By Pramod Acharya, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Honey production is on the decline in the U.S. 

A honeybee colony in the U.S. produced an average of 56 pounds of honey in 2019, down from an average of 80 pounds since 1995, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data

Experts and beekeepers have worried the widespread use of pesticides and the changing climate have contributed to decreased productivity, according to the USDA.

For example, dicamba that drifted off its intended target has led to hive losses, according to beekeepers.

USDA’s research also said that pesticide exposure could affect aspects of honeybee behavior, such as foraging for pollen and feeding. 

Honey yields depend on local climate conditions and vary across different geographic regions, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service. The USDA’s 2019 national honey report shows states with heavy rainfall, drought and a lack of nectar from wildflowers had lower yields.  

[Read more: Critics: State’s plan to save bees provides little protection from pesticides]

But, since 1995, the amount of honey produced per colony has dropped in 33 states. This includes North Dakota, South Dakota and California, the top three honey-producing states last year. 

North Dakota’s colonies produced an average of 108 pounds of honey in 1995. The figure was 65 pounds on average last year.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit, online newsroom offering investigative and enterprise coverage of agribusiness,big ag and related issues through data analysis, visualizations, in-depth reports and interactive web tools. Learn More »