Getting Started in the Honey Industry

Mike White, crops field specialist

Situation

Perspective - Iowa's honeybee operators have seen a great decline over the last several years because of low wholesale prices and the aging population of beekeepers getting out of the business. Iowa Ag Statistics reported 33,000 colonies producing 2.31 million pounds in 2002 compared to 45,000 colonies producing 3.33 million pounds in 1997. Honeybee colonies are critical to maintain and/or increase Iowa's vegetable and fruit crop industry. Technical support for our honey industry dropped significantly when the Iowa Department of Agriculture eliminated the State Apiarist position in 2002.

Response

I assisted three Warren County individuals to get them started in the retail honey business in 2003 by offering personal instruction, equipment use and hands-on experience.

Impact

All three individuals started with 1-4 hives each and all are now selling honey on a retail basis. Approximately 50 lbs of honey was harvested per hive and sold at $4 per pound. All have indicated that they are going to expand their operations in 2004.

Page last updated: July 8, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu