WASHINGTON — Honey prices rose to a record high last year while production from fewer bee colonies actually increased from 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its most recent annual Honey report.
Production of all types of honey totaled 160,861,000 lbs in 2008, up 8% from 148,341,000 lbs in 2007 and up 4% from 154,907,000 lbs in 2006, the U.S.D.A. said. It was the first increase in production since 2004 but still was 13% below the 10-year average of 184,503,000 lbs and was the third smallest in more than 20 years.
Stocks of honey held by producers on Dec. 15, 2008, totaled 50,445,000 lbs, down 4% from 52,635,000 lbs a year earlier.
The number of producing colonies declined 6% from 2,443,000 in 2007 to 2,301,000 in 2008, the U.S.D.A. said. It was the smallest number of colonies in more than 20 years. But honey yield per colony averaged 69.9 lbs in 2008, up 15% from 60.7 lbs in 2007.
Despite the increase in production, the price for all color classes of honey sold through all channels averaged a record high $1.41 a lb in 2008, up 31% from $1.08 a year earlier, the U.S.D.A. said. The average price at retail was $2.20 a lb, up 7% from $2.05 in 2007, and at the cooperative and private level was $1.34, up 34% from $1 in 2007. The total value of honey produced in 2008 was $226,814,000, up 42% from $159,763,000 a year earlier.
The six states of North Dakota, South Dakota, California, Florida, Minnesota and Montana accounted for 66% of the nation’s honey production in 2008.