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Bee & Honey
Bee & Honey

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Sweet Rewards

Mac Higginbotham
(800) 392-5705, ext. 5610

Alabama Bee and Honey Producers, a division of Alabama Farmers Federation, is composed of beekeepers across the state involved in the production of honey and honey products as commercial producers, sideliners, and hobbyists.

Interested in purchasing local honey? Click HERE to access Alabama's Bee & Honey Producers' Database.

Bees are a mutually beneficial commodity. Not only do they produce sweet-tasting honey, but through pollination, bees provide an invaluable service to farmers and to the wildlife community.

The Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service contacts several hundred Alabama beekeepers for the Bee & Honey Survey. Results show honey production in 2007 totaled 616,000 pounds, which is down 22 percent from 2006. There were 11,000 colonies producing honey, unchanged from 2006. Yield per colony averaged 56 pounds, compared with 72 pounds in 2006. During the same time, average honey prices increased from $1.33 per pound to $1.41 per pound in 2007.

The state has hundreds of hobby producers who keep all they produce, and medium-size operations which have retail stores right on their farms and/or sell to independent local retailers. Commercial beekeepers contract with large honey packers who sell at the retail level as honey and to food bcompanies for products containing honey.

For more details about bee and honey statistics in Alabama, visit the Alabama Agricultural Statistics Service Web site. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries' Apiary Division provides a valuable service to beekeepers in maintaining healthy colonies. All beekeepers are encouraged to register their colonies with this agency so that a viable bee and honey industry can be maintained in Alabama. The cost is minimal and is based on the number of colonies maintained by the beekeeper.

The Honeybee Industry In Alabama

There are several factors of the honeybee industry that, together, make a significant impact on the agricultural economy as well as the general economy. These include sales of honey, package bees, queen bees, beeswax products, and the influence of plant pollination by the honeybee. Figures are average annual from 2004-2008. Source: USDA/NASS.

  • Production - 780,800 pounds
  • Value of production - $1,109,400
  • Produced by - 11,200 colonies (hives)
  • Health benefits: Research has shown that, unlike most other sweeteners, honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants
  • Provides quick source of energy
  • Effective anti-microbial agent, useful in treating minor burns and scrapes, and for aiding the treatment of sore throats and other bacterial infections
  • Primary honey plants in Alabama - sourwood, gallberry, clovers, tulip poplar, soybeans, cotton. Clovers and other legumes yield an amber-colored mild-flavored honey.
  • Soybeans and cotton yield a light honey with good flavor.

  • Income estimates from bee sales in 2007:
    20,000 queens x $20/queen=$400,000
    2,500 packages x $75/pkg=$187,500
    20,000 colonies x $200/colony=$4,000,000

  • More than 2,500 in all 67 counties

  • Valued from $45-$90 million
  • One-third of human diet pollinated by insects, 80% of which are honeybees. Without honeybees' pollination, the quantity and quality of many crops would be reduced and some would not yield at all. According to a 2000 Cornell University study, the increased yield and quality of agricultural crops in the U.S. as a result of honeybee pollination is valued at more than $14.6 billion per year.
  • Examples of Alabama-produced crops totally or mostly dependent on honeybees for pollination: watermelons, apples, blueberries, cantaloupes, peaches, pumpkins, blackberries, grapes, persimmons, strawberries, cucumbers, honeydew, pears, plums, sunflowers, and vegetable seed.
  • Honeybees are a critical component of agricultural production. "The value of honeybees cannot be measure by their ability to produce honey alone, rather, it must include the work bees do for agricultural crops, home gardens, and wildlife habitat." - Nicholas Calderone, Ph. D., Cornell University
  • As agricultural land, wildlife, and natural areas are reduced, so is the foraging area for bees.

  • The Small Hive Beetle and Varroa Mites have become serious pests for Alabama beekeepers
  • Because mites have killed most wild bee colonies, dependence on managed honeybees for pollination of crops and wildlife has grown.
  • A healthy beekeeping industry is vitally important to a healthy agricultural economy, to wildlife habitat, and to a healthy environment.
  • Healthy bee colonies are important to beekeepers, fruit and vegetable growers, and the general public.

  • 10 pounds of honey yields 1 pound of wax
  • Beeswax candles - oldest candles known to man

Members of the 2013 Alabama Farmers Federation State Bee & Honey Committee are, from left, front row: Bob Cole, Marshall County; Second Vice Chairman Lionel Evans, Limestone County; Ray Latham, Jackson County; Chairman Bill Mullins, Madison County; Andrew Webb, Washington County and Hobsite Hite, Cullman County; back row: First Vice Chairman Joe Lambrecht, Elmore County; Terry Martin, Tallapoosa County; Barry Banks, Walker County; Gerald Whitaker, Coffee County; James Sitz, Etowah County; Jimmy Carmack, Jefferson County and Federation Bee & Honey Division Director Mac Higginbotham.

Goals and Issues

Goals of Alabama Bee and Honey Producers are determined by a state committee, which is elected by other producers throughout the state.
Issues and challenges facing producers are evaluated each year, and priority is placed on each to determine the focus for the division's efforts. Goals include:
  • Secure research money for honey production, marketing and pollination.
  • Keep no-comb law in effect.
  • Increase current funding for the existing Alabama A&M University research program into the percent yield increase in lint and seed effect of honeybee cross pollination of BT cotton, and expand the program to include other crops such as soybeans, fruits, vegetables, etc., by other Land Grant universities.
  • Work closely with Alabama fruit and vegetables growers to determine the issues that need to be resolved.
  • Continue support of anti-dumping suit.
  • Support naming queen bee as state insect.

Helping farmers address everyday problems is a key part of our mission. As new challenges appear, Alabama Bee and Honey Producers is poised to address those for the good of its producer members.

Activities and programs planned for the year include:
  • Promote planting of wildflowers along federal, state and county right of ways.
  • Support funding two fulltime pollination and bee specialists at the Department of Agriculture and Industries.
  • Work through alliances and other marketing groups to secure better markets for Alabama beehive products (such as honey, beeswax, package bees and queen bees).
  • Continue public education support throughout the state on the importance of honeybee pollination.
  • Encourage adherence to the existing state registration Apiary Law.
  • Promote September Honey Month.

The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Bee and Honey Producers are constantly and aggressively pursuing these production methods and marketing avenues for Alabama farmers. We are working closely with Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, and Tuskegee University as well as the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to make bee and honey production a viable asset to the state's economy.

Alabama Farmers Federation at Work for Alabama Producers

As a part of Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Bee and Honey Producers is represented at the state and national levels through departments of Governmental Affairs and National Affairs. The Department of Public Relations provides communications about important issues and notices through its monthly magazine, Neighbors, and biweekly newsletter, Cultivator.

Want to get your morning off to a sweet start? Try this recipe for Honey French Toast, courtesy of the Federation's new cookbook. To order a copy, visit FarmingFeedsAlabama.com.
The Local Connection

County Farmers Federations, with the assistance of Area Organization Directors, provide support and a mechanism to address issues on the local level. Herein lies the strength of Alabama Farmers Federation. Each county may establish its own Bee and Honey Committee. Needs and requests from producers in the county are the beginning of policy development and the direction of Alabama Bee and Honey Producers. You may contact your county Bee and Honey chairman, or if none currently exists, the Area Organization Director in your region or your County President for more information. County Extension System offices can also be a valuable source of beekeeping information.

Why Should I be a Member of Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Bee & Honey Producers?

The Alabama Farmers Federation brings farmers of all commodities together for a common cause. Together, we can accomplish more for everyone's benefit. The more producers actively participating in Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Bee and Honey Producers, the more effective the organization can be on issues affecting them. With membership in the Alabama Farmers Federation come many benefits.

Did You Know?

  • The colors of honey range from water white to dark amber, depending on its mineral content and floral source. Light colored honey typically has a mild flavor, while dark colored honey is usually stronger.
  • There are more than 300 floral sources in the U.S., including clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, cotton, and kudzu.
  • Honey contains 64 calories per tablespoon.
  • Bees travel 55,000 miles and visit more than 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.

Related Links

American Honey Producers Association
National Honey Board
Alabama Beekeepers Association

For more information, contact Mac Higginbotham, Director of Alabama Bee and Honey Producers, P.O. Box 11000, Montgomery, AL 36191-0001. Phone: (800) 392-5705, ext. 5610.

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