Beekeepers Struggling With Drought and Habitat Loss in South Dakota Honey

MANDAN, ND (KFYR) – South Dakota offers ideal conditions for honey bees to flourish; however drought and habitat loss make harvesting honey harder for beekeepers; last year alone saw 18% decrease in production within its borders.

Beekeepers and consumers both stand to lose from this development. Bees contribute $19 billion worth of value annually to agriculture industries nationwide through pollination services provided by domestic and wild bees; without sufficient domestic or wild bee populations, yields would decrease while prices would spike for fruit, vegetables, nuts etc.

Bret Adee of Adee Honey Farms in Bruce identifies several factors as potential culprits for high bee colony loss rates, including climate change, pesticides and habitat loss as contributing factors. But according to him, adulterated honey poses the greatest threat.

Beekeepers who produce some of the nation’s top honey are facing an uphill battle this year, as several major producers were forced to close and the federal government recently suspended an important honeybee monitoring program – something which is devastatingly disappointing to beekeepers such as Doug Deffenbaugh from Deep Creek Honey in Wall Lake.

Deffenbaugh and his wife operate approximately 200 beehives on their property or nearby in a field, selling some honey to local businesses like Coffea in Sioux Falls; most sales occur on an honor system through customers filling jars from his stand at the end of their driveway. He hopes a lawsuit filed by American Honey Producers Association and Sioux Honey Association against foreign companies who import adulterated honey will help his business continue.