According to USDA NASS survey data, United States honey production for 2015 was down 12 percent from 2014 for operations with five or more colonies at 157 million pounds. There were 2.66 million colonies from which honey was harvested in 2015, down three percent from 2014. Yield of honey harvested per colony averaged 58.9 pounds, down 10 percent from the 65.1 pounds in 2014. Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced.
Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted. Colonies were not included if honey was not harvested. Producer honey stocks were 42.2 million pounds on December 15, 2015, up two percent from a year earlier. Stocks held by producers exclude those held under the commodity loan program, which were at 4.8 million pounds on December 1, 2015.
New this year is survey data of honey production in 2015 from producers with fewer than five colonies which totaled 720 thousand pounds. There were 23 thousand colonies from which honey was harvested in 2015, for an average yield of 31.3 pounds harvested per colony. This yield is 27.6 pounds less than what was pulled per colony on operations with five or more colonies. Comparisons to 2014 are unavailable because no data prior to 2015 was collected for operations with fewer than five colonies.
Were feeling just a tad smug this month because of the predictions we made back in November, 2014, four months before NASS released their numbers. Back then, using data we gathered from our Monthly Honey Report reporters, we predicted the number of colonies in each region and about how much honey would be produced in each region, resulting in a yield/colony in each for the year 2015. Colony counts provided by our reporters by region indicated to us that total colonies of beekeepers with more than five colonies would come to 2.65 million colonies. NASS, in March this year from their survey numbers indicated there were 2.66 million colonies. We were off their count by less than a third of one percent. We missed it last year by just over three percent.
We also calculated per colony yields by region coming up with an average figure of 60.3 pounds per colony, and, using our colony count figures, arrived at a total U. S. honey crop for 2015 of 159.9 million pounds. NASS figures of 58.9 pounds per colony, with total U.S. crop of 156.5 pounds were remarkably similar to ours. Last year we were under by about 20% but for all intents and purposes, our colony count and per colony production this year were dead on, and we missed total crop by only 2.1%. So for those of you who just cant wait until that March date when NASS releases their previous years figures, tune in to Bee Cultures predictions in November for an early statistics fix that seems to be getting more reliable.
But fortunately, NASS has received some additional funding and is expanding their reach in both the frequency and type of reports they will be doing in the future. Theyve begun making quarterly reports on colony losses during each quarter, colony movements for migratory beekeepers, and colony counts all on a three month basis. Bee Culture has already received the first quarterly survey, covering the months of January, February and March, and the results of that will be released in May, shortly after you get this magazine, so watch the NASS web page for those data.
Image courtesy of beeculture.com