Did you know it takes more than a box, bees, and a love of honey to keep bees? Whether you are a hobbyist or a commercial beekeeper it involves a lot of work and depending on where you live you might have the odds stacked against you. Our friends over at Lawn Love recently put together a ranking of the best and worst states to keep bees. Keep reading to see where your state ranks! (Florida is number 4.)
Gardens across the U.S. are buzzing with hobbyist and professional beekeepers.
But the location of your colony can sweeten or sour your beekeeping journey.
Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best States for Beekeeping.
We looked at several metrics, such as total honey production, number of active bee colonies, beekeepers’ salaries, and honey suppliers. We also considered colony losses and whether the state protects honeybees from harmful neonics.
Use our rankings and in-depth analysis to get a taste of some of the sweetest states for beekeeping in the nation.
Results in depth
Golden Cali nectar
Home to 1,600 species of native bees, California brings home the gold for also being the leading player in the (non-native) honeybee industry. The Golden State scored sweet points in every metric, earning first place in the Establishments and Support ranks.
Bees are swarming across Cali, thanks to the state’s suitable climate, thriving agricultural industry, and high level of biodiversity. Around 2 million beehives make their way to Cali each year through migratory beekeeping to help with food production.
Agriculture isn’t always friendly to our winged friends, but this state has introduced policies to protect them from harmful neonics.
California is so dedicated to saving bees that they have legally classified bees as fish in order to extend endangered species protections to our bee-loved flying invertebrates.
(Honey)combing through the Midwest
Worker bees must work extra hard in North Dakota (No. 3), which yielded more than 28,000 pounds of honey in 2021 — the most of any state.
This comes as no surprise, considering the state is buzzing with active apiaries. Honeybees thrive on the grasslands’ wildflower nectar every spring and summer, before migrating to warmer climates in the fall and winter.
No other region comes close to the Flickertail State’s production levels, but several other Midwest states fared well, including Ohio (No. 6) and Michigan (No. 7), both of which stood out for their abundant honey suppliers and farmers markets selling honey.
Unfortunately, the Midwest isn’t always the best — these states fail to meet the call to save the bees. Each state above was stung for lack of protective legislation, while Nebraska (No. 40) fell all the way to the bottom, failing to impress in any category.
Buzzing balances along the Atlantic
Sticky East Coast states take up nearly half of the top 10 Best States for Beekeeping spots, with various perks for commercial and sideliner beekeepers.
New York (No. 2) brings home the bronze overall, with a boost from bee-friendly legislation and the highest average beekeeper salary. Florida (No. 4) impressed in the rankings with abundant honey production and minimal yearly colony loss.
Virginia (No. 9) and North Carolina (No. 10) trail just a few steps behind, thanks to high marks in Support, Establishments, and Earning Potential. North Carolina has the most beekeeping associations in the nation, while Old Dominion boasts the highest price per pound of honey.
Dry and quiet in the desert
You’d expect Utah (No. 39) — nicknamed “The Beehive State” — to be a bit more bee-friendly. Unfortunately, Utah has some of the highest average rates of colony loss, losing an average of more than 70% of its honeybee population between 2020 and 2021.
Utah and Arizona (No. 38) disappoint with unimpressive scores across the board. While native desert bees might thrive there, the desert isn’t an ideal spot for starting a hive of honeybees, which require long bloom times in order for pollination to be effective.
We ranked 40 U.S. states from best to worst (1-40) for beekeeping based on their overall scores (out of 100 points), averaged across the weighted metrics listed below.
Ten states plus the District of Columbia were excluded from our sample due to lack of available data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Bee Culture, Bee Informed Partnership, Environment America, Indeed, LocalHarvest, National Honey Board, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and U.S. Department of Agriculture
Portions of the this article and graphics reprinted from https://lawnlove.com/blog/best-states-for-beekeeping/