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Published April 21, 2013, 10:05 PM

North Dakota bee keeper battling late cold for honey

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Our spring is not only affecting us it's taking a toll on the bees. North Dakota is the top honey producing state in the country, but this year that could change.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Our spring is not only affecting us it's taking a toll on the bees. North Dakota is the top honey producing state in the country, but this year that could change.

Reporter Danielle Miller shows us how a long time bee keeper in Kindred is managing.

Mark Sperry has been keeping bees and producing honey for nearly 20 years.

Mark Sperry, Bee Keeper/Kindred: “This is probably about as late as I can recall.”

Usually this time of year he would be busy placing his hives alongside flourishing farmstead, but this year he's at a standstill.

Sperry: “Like any other farmer is, in a holding pattern, waiting for weather to clear so they can get out and do their usual spring work.”

After the hives are placed, the bees typically would already be foraging on nectar and pollen.

Sperry: “There is no nectar or pollen available, and most years there would be a little available, just starting.”

Since there isn't any nectar bearing plants in sight, Sperry has to fake the process with supplemental feed.

Sperry: “A pollen substitute, and a honey substitute, corn syrup.”

Sperry says one of his biggest concerns is that all of his empty colonies won't be re-stocked.

Sperry: “Once nectar and pollen become available foraging bees bring it back to the hive, the queen starts laying more eggs and they increase their numbers, building that population of bees in the hive which is what we want, well they are just in a holding pattern. None of that activity is really going on.”

At summer peak population, Sperry has 1,200 colonies each containing 60,000 bees. His busy bees produce about 120,000 pounds of honey each year.

Sperry: “I suspect we'll have a hard time making that this year.”

Since Old Man Winter is keeping Sperry inside doing other jobs. He like most of us will keep wishing for spring.

Sperry says it needs to be around 50 degrees to place the hives. Also the cost of honey could rise if supply is low.

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