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Bee Culture

U.S. Honey Industry Report – 2021

Released March 18, 2022, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Supplementary by Kim Flottum

United States Honey Production Down 14 Percent in 2021
United States honey production in 2021 totaled 126 million pounds, down 14 percent from 2020. There were 2.7 million colonies producing honey in 2021, down slightly from 2020. Yield per colony averaged 46.9 pounds, down 14 percent from the 54.5 pounds in 2020. Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced. Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted. Colonies were not included if honey was not harvested. Producer honey stocks were 23.5 million pounds on December 15, 2021, down 41 percent from a year earlier. Stocks held by producers exclude those held under the commodity loan program.

Honey Prices Up 21 Percent in 2021
United States honey prices increased 21 percent during 2021 to $2.54 per pound, compared to $2.10 per pound in 2020. United States and State level prices reflect the portions of honey sold through cooperatives, private, and retail channels. Prices for each color class are derived by weighing the quantities sold for each marketing channel. Prices for the 2020 crop reflect honey sold in 2020 and 2021. Some 2020 crop honey was sold in 2021, which caused some revisions to the 2020 crop prices.

Price Paid per Queen was 20 Dollars in 2021
The average prices paid in 2021 for honey bee queens, packages, and nucs were $20, $91, and $125 respectively. Pollination income for 2021 was $269 million, up six percent from 2020. Other income from honey bees in 2021 was $102 million, up 82 percent from 2020.

Released August 2, 2021, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

January 1, 2020 – Some History
Honey Bee colonies Up Two Percent for Operations with Five or More colonies
Honey bee colonies for operations with five or more colonies in the United States on January 1, 2021 totaled 2.92 million colonies, up two percent from January 1, 2020. The number of colonies in the United States on April 1, 2021 was 2.86 million colonies. During 2020, honey bee colonies on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1 were 2.88 million, 2.97 million, 3.18 million, and 3.14 million colonies, respectively.
Honey bee colonies lost for operations with five or more colonies from January through March 2021, was 372,630 colonies, or 13 percent. The number of colonies lost during the quarter of April through June 2021 was 255,860 colonies, or nine percent. During the quarter of October through December 2020, colonies lost totaled 484,920 colonies, or 15 percent, the highest number lost of any quarter surveyed in 2020. The quarter surveyed in 2020 with the lowest number of colonies lost was April through June, with 300,990 colonies lost, or 10 percent.


Honey bee colonies added for operations with five or more colonies from January through March 2021 was 308,530 colonies. The number of colonies added during the quarter of April through June 2021 was 677,690. During the quarter of April through June 2020, the number of colonies added were 536,170 colonies, the highest number of honey bee colonies added for any quarter surveyed in 2020.
The quarter of October through December 2020 added 271,500 colonies, the least number of honey bee colonies added for any quarter surveyed in 2020. Honey bee colonies renovated for operations with five or more colonies from January through March 2021 was 156,270 colonies, or five percent. During the quarter of April through June 2021, the number of colonies renovated were 480,380 colonies, or 17 percent. The quarter surveyed in 2020 with the highest number of colonies renovated was April through June with 626,870 colonies renovated, or 21 percent. The quarter surveyed in 2020 with the lowest number of colonies renovated was October through December 2020, with 128,990, or four percent. Renovated colonies are those that were requeened or received new honey bees through a nuc or package.

Varroa Mites Top Colony Stressor for Operations with Five or More colonies
Varroa mites were the number one stressor for operations with five or more colonies during all quarters surveyed in 2020. The period with the highest percentage of colonies reported to be affected by varroa mites was July through September 2020 at 55.7 percent. The percent of colonies reported to be affected by varroa mites during January through March 2021 and April through June 2021 are 31.3 percent and 48.7 percent, respectively.

Colonies Lost with Colony Collapse Disorder Symptoms Down 27 Percent for Operations with Five or More colonies
Honey bee colonies lost with Colony Collapse Disorder symptoms on operations with five or more colonies was 76,930 colonies from January through March 2021. This represents a 27 percent decrease from the same quarter in 2020.

Per Capita Consumption, 2021
We calculate this figure each year using data from USDA ERS, NASS, ERS, FARM SERVICE and the U.S. Census Bureau. From these sources we determine how much honey entered the system, how much honey left the system, how much was used, how much wasn’t used and the population on July 1, 2021. These figures include U.S. production, U.S. exports, honey put under and taken out of the loan program and honey remaining in storage, plus how much was imported from off shore. Essentially it’s a measure of honey in minus honey out. The resultant figure, divided by how many people were here on that particular date results in how much honey was consumed by each and every individual in the US last year. And yes, you are correct, not every person eats honey, but by producing this figure on an annual basis, we are able to compare apples to apples each year in honey consumption.
The chart below compares these figures for the previous 12 years. We’ve included the USDA’s price of all honey for comparison too.

Honey Into The U.S., 2020
U.S. beekeepers with more than five colonies in 2020 produced, according to USDA, 147.6 million pounds of honey. The Honey Board calculates that an additional eight million pounds or so were produced by those with fewer than five colonies for a total production of 155 million pounds. Additional honey in figures include 40.9 million pounds taken out of warehouses from last year, 4.8 million pounds taken out from last year’s loan program, and a whopping 134.5 million pounds imported for a rough total of 513 million pounds of honey in, during 2021. This honey sold, on average, wholesale, retail and speciality honey for $2.41/pound, according to USDA figures. Commercial beekeepers in the U.S. will tell you to make a living, this price should be about the same price as diesel fuel. Take a look next time you are at the gas station.

Honey Out Of The U.S., 2020
For the honey out figure, we exported nearly 10.7 million pounds to other countries, have nearly 40 million pounds still sitting in warehouses and put just under five million under loan, for a total of about 58 million pounds of honey produced in 2021 that were moved out of the U.S. figures for 2021.
The July 1, 2021 population was right at 332 million people in the U.S. So, to calculate per capita consumption, subtract honey out (put under loan, exported or still in warehouses) from honey in (honey produced this year, left over from last, or imported) and divide by 332 million, for a total of 477 million pounds consumed in the U.S. last year. Divide this by 332 million people which gives you about 1.4 pounds of honey consumed by each and every person in the U.S. during 2021, the lowest since 2012.

These figures represent the various categories of honey imported, how much of each and the value. The price of comb honey to sell directly retail is the closest to the U.S. price, while extra light amber, a very common honey, is very low. Basically, U.S. honey producers are at $2.54/lb, while imports are at $2.41. Elsewhere, you’ll see income issues for U.S. beekeepers, and here is one good reason.

Top 10 Producing States
The places that yield the most honey every year are pretty much determined by the climate, the soil, agriculture and politics. The crops grown, or not grown in a region certainly play a role in what can be found relative to nectar, pesticides and regulations relative to how many colonies can you put on any given acre that won’t starve after a couple of months. Of course, government conservation programs lend a hand here too.
We’ve been curious about this for the last eight years or so, just because it’s interesting to see what changes, and what doesn’t. The Dakotas, California, Montana, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan and Texas are almost always in the top eight, with the last two changing occasionally: New York, Louisiana, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan and perhaps a few others round out these performers.
This year provided few surprises in who is on the list, and the totals for the top 10 this year were essentially where they always are relative to the number of colonies counted in these states and the amount of honey produced. Again, these states produced 71% of all of the honey produced in the U.S., and had 72% of all the colonies in the U.S. sitting somewhere within their borders. It’s pretty clear that what happens in these few states is going to determine the U.S. crop.
But, just because we can, this year we looked at the contributions of the top three states, for almost every year, the Dakotas and California. Combined, they held on to 40% of the colonies used last year and produced just short of 40% of all the honey U.S. beekeepers made last year. This means, of course, that 60% of the colonies, and 60% of the U.S. honey crop is spread out over the remaining 47 states. You can see this comes to just under 1%/state. That sort of puts us in our place, doesn’t it? This extreme unbalanced situation commands notice, then, as to what will happen when climate change erodes, or doesn’t, weather patterns in these three states including rainfall, Summer and Winter temperatures, farming practices and conservation practices.
Already, drought in the western third of the U.S. is having an effect, not only on the bees, but their forage and the crops they pollinate as well. Like it or not, we are at the mercy of big weather – call it climate change or whatever – it’s dry out there!

UOVBA News Bot

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