BOISE — Idaho honey production declined 10 percent in 2013, even as production increased nationally and in Oregon and Washington.
The number of colonies producing honey in Idaho also dropped 10 percent, from 92,000 to 83,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
According to NASS, Idaho honey production totaled 2.66 million pounds last year, down from 2.9 million pounds in 2012.
Beekeepers said hot, dry conditions in many parts of the state last year took a toll on honey production.
“We had a hot, dry year and the bees didn’t make as much honey as they normally would in many areas of the state. That was the biggest factor,” said Nampa beekeeper Tom Hamilton.
Idaho honey production totaled 3.13 million pounds in 2011 but two straight years of hot, dry weather has taken a toll.
Jonathan Millet, a beekeeper in Marsing, agreed that honey production was down in general last year but said it varied from place to place.
“I found a few places where my bees produced a little more honey but other places were down at least 10 percent,” he said.
Blackfoot beekeeper Jay Miller said the overall health of bees in Idaho didn’t appear to be very good last year.
“It wasn’t a very good 2013 for us,” he said.
Nationally, honey production increased 5 percent to 149 million pounds, and the number of colonies was up 4 percent to 2.64 million, according to NASS estimates.
Oregon honey production totaled 2.17 million pounds, a 13 percent increase from 2012, and the number of colonies rose 3 percent to 62,000.
Honey production in Washington was 2.69 million pounds, a 6 percent increase, and the number of colonies, at 69,000, was up 11 percent.
Average yield per colony nationally was 56.6 pounds, up less than one pound from 2012. Average yield in Idaho was unchanged at 32 pounds, while it was up 3 pounds to 35 in Oregon and down two pounds to 39 in Washington.
The NASS estimates show that Idaho producers held 1.04 million pounds of honey on stock as of Dec. 15, a 95 percent increase over the same date in 2012.
Steady prices, and a lack of buying, caused a lot of beekeepers to hold some of their honey over into 2014, Millet said.
“I knew prices would be strong come spring so I held over a little stock (which) I just loaded onto a semi today,” he said April 3. “I think a lot of guys held onto some honey because the price was holding and there weren’t a lot of guys buying honey.”
The average price of honey in Idaho was 201 cents per pound last year, up from 163 cents in 2012, according to NASS.
The average price in Oregon rose from 216 to 229 cents per pound and in Washington it dropped from 238 to 221. Nationally, the average price increased from 199 to 212.