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USDA Takes Interest in Health of Honeybees

December 31, 2015

Honey Industry

Department of Agriculture Looks at Honey Operations and Bees

According to an article posted on AgriNews-Pubs.com, the Unites States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has started to measure honey bee populations, the true cost of pollination, the production of honey, and information on colony loss across the country. Mark Schleusener, a state statistician for Illinois said that “Interest in honey production, along with concern about the health of the bee population, continues to grow all around the country.”

“The USDA’s Bee and Honey Surveys give producers the opportunity to report the latest information on conditions of their bees and the impact on honey production,” Schleusener continued. “Typically, we focus our efforts on larger honey producers, but this year we are adding hundreds of smaller producers to our sample. It’s important to know about production from that group of producers, as well as from larger, commercial producers.”

Operators in the state of Illinois have been asked to provide information about their honey bee colonies, what stock of honey they currently have on hand as well as the production levels they have experienced throughout the year and the changes in pricing of honey that took place within the last year. In the state of Illinois alone, the National Agricultural Statistics Service will have to contact almost 1,200 beekeepers and operators to request and source information they need for their survey.

“Honey production in Illinois is down significantly from 15 years ago. Data collected on these surveys will help the industry and USDA better understand colony health and honey production in the state. The information can also help create public appreciation for the many benefits of U.S. bees and their products,” Schleusener said. In order to make it easier for operators to respond to the survey questions, the National Agricultural Statistics Service has given multiple ways in which they can respond, including via the Internet, by mail, over the telephone, or during an interview with a representative.

Schleusener notes the responses given by operators will remain anonymous and all the information is confidential under federal law. “NASS [National Agricultural Statistics Service] safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state and national-level data, ensuring that no individual producer or operation can be identified,” he said. The results of National Agricultural Statistics Service’s survey should be available in mid to late March in their “Honey Report.”

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