Beekeepers gather in Aberdeen: Colony collapse disorder, other topics discussed

Farm Forum

The state of South Dakota currently ranks third in the nation in honey production, with more than 14 million pounds produced in 2013. But complications, such as colony collapse disorder and issues with insecticides, are causing challenges for the industry.

These issues and more were discussed as the South Dakota Beekeepers Association kicked off its annual meeting on July 11 at the Ramkota Inn and Convention Center as a series of guest lecturers and presenters spoke about solutions and innovations within the industry.

Association president John Stolle said the annual meeting is a good communication mechanism and allows ideas from different parts of the state and country to be exchanged.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are nearly 200,000 hobby beekeepers in the U.S. Stolle said hobby beekeeping is becoming more and more prevalent within the state and other parts of the country.

“It’s always good to see new people getting interested in the bees,” he said.

Stolle said problems within the industry can also indirectly affect consumers, as nearly 30 percent of produce in grocery stores would disappear without honeybees.

Guest lecturer and University of Minnesota professor Marla Spivak spoke about a new bee research facility that’s to be built at the University of Minnesota, as well as current research being performed that could potentially affect many beekeepers within the state.

Kevin Lubke, a biologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, also presented at the annual meeting and noted that the beekeeping industry expands far beyond honey production. Plants, such as cucumbers, squash and strawberries, are affected by honeybee pollination.

Other presenters and lecturers included representatives from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition. About 40 members attended on July 11. The meeting will wrapped up on July 12.

2013’s top producers

• North Dakota: 33,120,000 pounds

• Montana: 14,946,000 pounds

• South Dakota: 14,840,000 pounds

• Florida: 13,420,000 pounds

• California: 10,890,000 pounds