Beekeeping can be a fascinating hobby, a profitable sideline, or a full-time occupation. The industry in Mississippi is composed of beekeepers that manage their colonies for honey production, as well as producing queens and package bees.
Several large commercial, migratory beekeepers in the Midwest also winter several thousand colonies in Mississippi. There are between 20 and 30 thousand colonies in the state during the summer and 80-120 thousand during the winter. Mississippi has 12 full-time commercial beekeepers, 30-40 part-time honey producers and 800 hobbyists. Mississippi ranks 28th in the nation in honey production and produces about 2.25 million pounds of honey each year.
The 1996 value of honey production in Mississippi was $1,156,000. Net annual income of Mississippi beekeepers from honey and beeswax production, sale of packaged bees and queens, and pollination fees is estimated to be between $2.1 and $3.1 million. Honey bees contribute a value to pollination of fruits, berries, vegetables, sunflowers, cotton, soybeans, peanuts, and wild plants in Mississippi exceeding $200 million annually (Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce).
News reports of a new, invasive hornet spotted in the Northwest has heightened people’s awareness of flying insects recently.
Believe it or not, urban landscapes can provide enough plant diversity to sustain honeybee colonies, making beekeeping a suitable hobby for both city and country dwellers. Jeff Harris, beekeeping specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said both locales have their pros and cons when it comes to growing healthy honeybee hives. “Many urban landscapes contain ornamentals and other flowering plants that provide a better and more diverse diet than monoculture crops,” Harris said. “Just like humans, bees are healthier when their food comes from many different sources, not just cheeseburgers -- or in the bees’ case, 3,000 acres of corn.”
The number of people in Mississippi taking up beekeeping as a hobby is growing, and commercial-scale production is holding steady -- for now.
SAUCIER, Miss. -- Producers and gardeners looking for tips on growing herbs and improving their soil can attend a July 20 field day.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Healthy hives, consumer demand and crops for pollination are issues demanding beekeepers' attention in 2018.
Jeff Harris, a bee specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said bees are doing better than some reports might suggest.