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Worst U.S. Honey Crop Ever!
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2009 was a terrible year to be in the honey business. Bee Culture’s unofficial poll last fall came up with a crop estimate of 119 million pounds, produced by 2,223,000 colonies. The USDA on Friday released their figures. Though higher than ours at 144,108,000 million pounds of honey, it is still the worst honey crop on record. Ever. USDA figures showed a colony count of 2,462,000…a couple hundred thousand higher than our guesstimate.
Honey stocks left over from 2008 plus imports during 2009 totaled 248,571,251 pounds, and when you subtract the honey that beekeepers exported – 28,924,255 pounds, the final figure gives a nice picture of how much honey was used in the U.S. overall during 2009. That total figure is 363,754,996 pounds. If you divide that total figure by the average U.S. population for 2009, you get per capita consumption, which is, for 2009 - .903 pounds, or right about 14.5 ounces. Did you eat your pound of honey last year?
. Last year it was .960 pounds, or 15.4 ounces per person. The figure most honey experts use is a pound a person every year, so though a tad off, these figures are still in the ball park.
The imported figure is daunting not unlike a lot of other foods we consume. The U.S. imported 211,418,300 pounds…or almost 60% of the honey we ate last year. That percentage has been creeping up slowly for several years and no end is in sight. Less U.S. production coupled with the fact that U.S. honey costs more than almost all imported honey makes that easy to understand.
The average price of honey increased 2 percent over last year’s prices, from $1.421 to $1.445 per pound. Retail prices, however, were even higher, rising from $2.247 to $2.784 per pound, or just over 50 cents a pound. That’s a hike by any standard.
The last caveat for this report is that the USDA does not contact, nor count, beekeeping operations that have 5 or fewer colonies. There are a lot of these in this country and their production does add up, but for the most part, the honey produced by these beekeepers does not enter the stream of commerce, but rather is consumed at home, shared with neighbors and family, or sold to friends or coworkers.
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This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company.