Drought Hits Beekeepers, Honey Production

6 years 8 months 3 weeks ago Monday, July 30 2012 Jul 30, 2012 Monday, July 30, 2012 3:27:00 PM CDT July 30, 2012 in News
By: Matt Evans
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BOONE COUNTY - Missouri beekeepers said Monday the drought is having negative effects on their crop, too. Art Gelder has been a beekeeper for 20 years and said by this time of year, he usually has already pulled 100 boxes, or supers, out of his hives that hold 40-50 pounds of honey each.  This year, he said he has pulled only five supers.

Because of the drought, flowers aren't producing enough nectar for the bees to produce honey with.

"Like corn and soybean farmers need rain to grow corn and soybeans, beekeepers need rain to produce honey," said Gelder.

But unlike corn and soybean farmers, all of Missouri's honey producers are left out of the federal and state financial aid programs offered during the current drought.

"We're still a major part of agriculture, but we don't get any of the benefits that the corn or soybean producers," said Gelder.

This can be a big hardship for people who rely on the sweet nectar to support them. And while Gelder said about 1/3 of his income comes directly from honey production, he also sells beekeeper equipment and other products that will hopefully bring him and his family through this tough year.

"We are a small, diversified, and sustainable farm," said Gelder. "We don't want to put all our eggs in one basket. That's the way we feel we can keep going. If it was just honey, we'd have nothing."

Like other crops, Gelder said the price of honey is also likely to increase if the drought continues into the fall harvest.

"Like a farmer planting corn this year, corn prices are going to skyrocket. The price of honey is going to skyrocket too," said Gelder.

Gelder runs the farm with his wife, Vera. The two run their farm -- Walk-About Acres -- about 10 miles northwest of Columbia.  Besides bees, the Gelders also have hogs, goats, chickens, emus, and other animals on their farm.

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