Honey Producers Wish for More Rain

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

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By Jill Kasparie

LINN COUNTY, Iowa – Eastern Iowa honey producers are keeping their eyes to the sky, hoping for some rain.

Some portions of Eastern Iowa saw a sprinkling of rain Thursday while others enjoyed some substantial amounts.

In most areas, however, it wasn't enough to hold off drought conditions that are slowly creeping back. The latest drought monitor shows the majority of the state is lacking rainfall. Some portions are even moderately dry.

Beekeepers are keeping their fingers crossed that Mother Nature will grant their wish of a nice rain. Many haven't seen rain for weeks and that has some starting to worry.

Matt Stewart knows all there is to know about honey production. He spent the day in Iowa City on Thursday selling different varieties of honey produced by his 40 hives, but there's not as much of some as he'd like.

"One we should have really got a lot of this year should have been the clover but because of the dry weather we got quite shorted on the amounts of clover that came through,” Stewart said.

He said the recent dry spell means many of the bees are on a siesta of sorts.

"They are just kind of hanging around,” Stewart said.

The flowers aren't producing enough nectar for bees to produce honey with.

"They are not stupid, and they are not going to go if there's no nectar,” Stewart said.

Jean Wiedenheft with the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids said Mother Nature has all the control. She supervises the honey production of the hives at the Nature Center. There are about fifteen of them. Each hive has thousands of honey bees.

"They can only do what they can do with what nature provides for them,” Wiedenheft said. “So, if you are having a dry year or you don’t have a lot of flowers, they will work with what they have.”

Because of a cold, wet spring and this late dry spell, she said her hives are expected to produce about half as much as they could.

"I think it's going to shape up to be a mediocre year,” Wiedenheft said.

Stewart said as this dry summer starts winding down, he's more concerned with the cold months. The bees need nectar now to produce enough honey for them to feed on during the winter.

"What they'll do is they’ll consume all they have in there and we'll have to figure out some way to start feeding them real soon,” Stewart said. “It’s just -- we're going into an emergency situation right now because of the rain."

Despite the lack of rain, experts said they are anticipating this will shape up to be a decent year of honey production. Still, beekeepers will keep their fingers crossed for more rain.




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