national statistics on the price of honey (per pound) by color and marketing channel, and the following commodity statistics for each state:

  • The number of honey-producing colonies.

  • The average honey yield per colony.

  • Total honey production.

  • The average price per pound paid to beekeepers.

  • Total value of honey production.

  • Stocks of honey held by producers (not including stocks held by producers under the commodity loan program).

Data from states with few beekeeping operations—Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina—are pooled to maintain confidentiality. Colony counts reported by NASS in its Annual Honey Report are based on beekeepers with more than five colonies and on honey-producing colonies only. Colony counts include all honey-producing colonies in a state and may count colonies more than once if they produce honey in more than one state (migratory beekeeping).

The 5-yearly Census of Agriculture uses different counting procedures than the Annual Honey Report. The most recent 2002 census (USDA-NASS, 2004a) counted all bee colonies, and counted them only “in the county where the owner of the colonies largest value of agricultural products was raised or produced” (USDA-NASS, 2004a, Appendix A, p. A-8). The census reports inventories and sales of colonies of bees, and honey produced, both nationally and by state.

The data reported suffer from a number of ambiguities. Restricting reported counts to honey-producing colonies results in an underestimate of the number of colonies; although NASS collects data in its annual survey form “Bee and Honey Inquiry” on the total number of colonies, they report on only the honey-producing colonies. According to the most recent agricultural census, for example, 30 percent of the nation’s 17,357 beekeeping operations did not produce honey in 2002 (USDA-NASS, 2004a, Table 2.19, p. 378). Yet counting colonies in each state in which they produce honey results in an overestimate of the number of colonies. The magnitude of these two countervailing errors is undetermined. Restricting colony counts to beekeepers with more than five colonies also results in an underestimate of the number of colonies nationwide. This undercount may involve as many as 100,000– 400,000 colonies, assuming 100,000 hobbyist beekeepers with 1–4 colonies each (Chapter 1). Although, the colonies of most hobbyists are unlikely to find their way into the commercial pollination marketplace, they may contribute substantially to pollination for small grower operations, backyard gardens and urban landscapes, and wild (native and weedy) plants.

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