National Pollinator Week began June 20, and a new ranking puts Virginia near the top for beekeepers.
Lawn Love used a variety of metrics to rank the states based on data points ranging from honey production and number of active bee colonies to the number of beekeeper associations, and gave Virginia 10th place out of the 40 states for which there were enough data to do an evaluation.
(The full survey and methodology can be found at http://lawnlove.com/blog/best-states-for-beekeeping/.)
California, which is home to 1,600 native species of bees, was first on the list; among its pro-bee attributes is legally classifying bees as “fish” (yes, really) to be able to extend endangered-species protections.
California was followed on the ranking by New York and then by North Dakota, which in 2021 produced the highest amount of honey among all states.
Rounding out the top 10 were Florida, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Washington, Virginia and North Carolina.
(Virginia’s place in the ranking was buoyed by its No. 2 showing among the states in terms of earning potential for beekeepers.)
Utah may be known as the Beehive State, but in this ranking it ended up 39th out of 40.
Fears about the decline of bees due to a number of factors have been widespread, as they play an integral role in the overall ecological health of the planet.
“We’ve seen a huge loss in native-bee diversity in the last few decades,” said Dr. Margaret Couvillon, assistant professor of pollinator biology and ecology in Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology. “The disappearance, or extinction, of a species that used to live in a particular area is bellwether to additional, future consequences.”
As for the business (and hobby) of raising honeybees, Couvillon notes that there’s been a 60-percent decrease in the number of managed hives from its U.S. peak just after World War II to the present day.
“I don’t think they will go extinct, but it has become harder and much less profitable to keep bees,” she said. “This decrease occurs even as our reliance on their pollination services increases.”