The bee's needs: Hot, dry, smoky conditions could damage Idaho honey crop
More than 200,000 honeybees busied themselves buzzing and waddling and flying around Michael Morrison’s Meridian backyard, Monday. The only thing they weren’t getting busy doing was making honey. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
More than 200,000 honeybees busied themselves buzzing and waddling and flying around Michael Morrison’s Meridian backyard, Monday. The only thing they weren’t getting busy doing - a day after temperatures surpassed 100 degrees - was making honey.
“The boxes literally from here up should be full of honey,” Morrison said, gesturing to a hive, “and they’re not.”
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported a 20 percent uptick in Idaho’s honey production in 2011. It seemed unlikely, Monday, 2012 would see anything resembling that.
“Oh,” Morrison said, “far and away the worst output I’ve seen.”
But Morrison only began beekeeping four years ago. Still, he isn’t the only one feeling the sting of some unproductive bees this summer.
“The honey-flow has never really started from the people that I have talked to,” Morrison said.
Tom Hamilton at Hamilton Honey LLC in Nampa has harvested honey commercially for 30 years. He said because of irrigation the valley had retained much of the same flora hot weather forced to go through too many stages too quickly in other parts of the state.
Hamilton thought Idaho could see a significant decline in honey this summer, but said he wouldn’t have any idea of valley production until early fall.
Rick Waitley, the executive director at the Idaho Honey Association, stressed a third of our food supply comes through pollination. Anytime anything makes pollination difficult, foodstocks decline.
Morrison subscribes to bee journals and sells, eats and gifts his honey. But for this retiree and hobbyist, just spending time with his bees yields something far sweeter than their honey.
“Nobody bothers you when you’re out here,” Morrison said, chuckling.