Apr 23, 2024 - News

Utah honey production could be rebounding after colony collapse

Bees at the entrance of their hive on a farm in Ashton, Maryland on August 2022. Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Bees at the entrance of their hive on a farm in Ashton, Maryland in August 2022. Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

There could be a record number of bee farms in Utah right now, according to a new analysis from the The Washington Post.

Why it matters: Unusually high hive losses in the early 2000s ignited fears that the domesticated western honey bee, an integral part of the world's food system, was headed for population collapse from pesticide, climate change and invasive mites.

  • But recent data from the Department of Agriculture suggests that domesticated honey bee colonies are making a comeback.

The big picture: Bees are kind of Utah's thing!

By the numbers: A 2022 census by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service suggests the number of Utah bee farms has more than quintupled since 2002, from 143 to 787.

Yes, but: Inflation might be making bee populations look artificially high.

  • The census measures operations that produce at least $1,000 of products per year. That means high honey prices could nudge some hobbyists into the count.
  • Recent research also suggests that despite increases in bee population, honey yields in the U.S. have been decreasing since the 1990s because of changing climates and decreased soil productivity.
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