North Dakota bee colonies hit all-time high

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says more than a half-million bee colonies, another significant record, have been registered in North Dakota this year.

“Not only are the number of colonies and beekeepers up, so is compliance,” Goehring said. “In the meantime, we are getting fewer landowner complaints about bee colonies.

Goehring said 221 beekeepers have registered 510,000 colonies in 2014, compared to 205 beekeepers and 482,500 colonies in 2013. More than 12,200 hive locations have been registered, compared to 11,000 last year.

Goehring credited the North Dakota Department of Agriculture apiary staff with taking action to improve compliance.

“The staff has made numerous phone calls to beekeepers reminding them to register locations and to appropriately identify their hives,” Goehring said. “They also conducted education and outreach efforts to help beekeepers better understand the regulations. This has led to a spike in compliance.”

Goehring said disease and other threats to bee populations continue to be a concern across the nation. In 2013, he convened two state-wide meetings of beekeepers and landowners to resolve differences and to develop collaborative efforts to benefit all parties. The result was the North Dakota Pollinator Plan, the only such plan in the U.S.

“The pollinator plan was developed in response to a growing need for a balanced public policy that mitigates risk to honey bees, while minimizing the impact of that mitigation on production agriculture to prevent unintended consequences,” Goehring said. “I believe that through enhanced communications and by working together we can achieve these goals.”

North Dakota has led the nation in honey production for the past decade. In 2013, the state produced more than 33 million pounds of honey, 22 percent of the national total.