Written by Dan Childs and Marda Donner Read more in Vermont's Local Banquet Spring 2014 issue. As I look out my window in early January at my beehives, I’m in awe of how bees do what they do. The temperature is well below zero, the wind is blowing, and snow is falling. Yet…
Honeybees are valuable to Vermont agriculture for two main reasons: They are important pollinators for crops (e.g., forage crops, apples), and they produce honey, a natural sweetener used in many food and nonfood products. With a market value estimated at $575,000 in 2010 by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the economic contribution of honey production in Vermont is a small component of the value of the state’s total food system. However, this figure misses small-scale honey production and value-added products (e.g., candles), and undercounts the essentially free ecosystem services provided by domesticated exotic honey bees and native bees for agricultural crops, gardens, and wildlife habitats.
Vermont has about 1,800 registered beekeepers, but state apiculturalist Stephen Parise at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) estimates the actual number to be between 2,000-2,500. Several commercial beekeepers and apiaries operate in Vermont (e.g., Champlain Valley Apiaries in Middlebury, in operation for 80 years), but most beekeepers do it for “love and honey,” according to the Vermont Beekeepers Association (VBA). There are approximately 400 VBA members, ranging from commercial producers to hobby beekeepers.
Vermont produced 260,000 pounds of honey in 2010 (about 0.15% of U.S. production), up from 245,000 pounds in 2009, but down from a historic record high of 623,000 pounds in 2002-2003. NASS indicates that the number of honey-producing colonies in Vermont decreased from 5,000 to 4,000 from 2009 to 2010 (4,000 colonies is one of the lowest per-state totals). VBA reports that Vermont has 9,000 colonies that produce about 700,000 pounds of honey per year.
1. Bee Ecology + Ecosystem Services
- James H. Cane, "Bee Pastures: Floral Havens Where Pollinators Can Prosper," Agricultural Research, 2010, 58(7): 20-21. Add to Collection
2. Colony Health
- Mickaël Henry et al., “A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees,” Science, 336 (6079), March 30, 2012: 348-350 Add to Collection
- Penelope R. Whitehorn et al., “Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production,” Science, 336 (6079), March 30, 2012: 351-352. Add to Collection
- Andrea Tapparo et al., "Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds," Environmental Science & Technology, 46 (5), 2012: 2592–2599 Add to Collection
- USDA, Colony Collapse Disorder Progress Report, 2010. Add to Collection
- Diana L. Cox-Foster, et al., "A Metagenomic Survey of Microbes in Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder," Science, 318, October 2007: 283-287. Add to Collection
- Y. Le Conte and M. Navajas, “Climate Change: Impact on Honey Bee Populations and Diseases,” Revue Scientifique et Technique, 27(2), 2008: 499-510. pdf 310K Add to Collection
- Jessica R.K. Forrest and James D. Thomson, “An Examination of Synchrony Between Insect Emergence and Flowering in Rocky Mountain Meadows,” Ecological Monographs, 81(3), 2011: 469-491. Add to Collection
3. Honey Laundering
- Ronald W. Ward and Bruce Boynton, "U.S. Honey Supply Chain: Structural Change, Promotion, and the China Connection,” International Journal of Food System Dynamics, 1 (2010): 13—25 Add to Collection