Virginia’s honey harvest begins in the summer and the final harvests of the season occurs in September. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages honey lovers to celebrate the honey harvest by purchasing local honey at farmers’ markets, farm stands and local retailers. In 2019, Virginia beekeepers harvested an average of 39 pounds of honey per hive. The value of those products was almost $1.5 million.
“Pollination is an integral part of the agricultural industry. An increase in honeybee colonies often means there are more bees to pollinate crops and the result of that pollination is more vegetables and fruit for the consumer,” said VDACS Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh. “In addition to the pollination of crops, honeybees produce honey that consumers can enjoy. Virginia’s honey harvest can be enjoyed in a variety of ways including, raw honey, infused honey, creamed honey, comb honey, candy, meads and even honey ice cream. Search VirginiaGrown.com to find many of these products near you.”
Virginia crops such as apples, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash and blueberries are dependent on pollinators to fully develop their fruits. Production of other crops such as soybeans, sunflowers and even peanuts benefit from pollination by honeybees and other insect pollinators. In fact, pollination by honeybees contributes more than $16 billion to the value of U.S. crop production each year.
“I encourage all Virginians to celebrate this year’s honey harvest by enjoying the variety of delicious honey flavors, its medicinal properties and versatility. This is also a good time for residents to learn of actions they can take to help sustain Virginia’s honeybee population,” said State Apiarist Keith Tignor.
The following activities help sustain and support Virginia’s honeybee populations:
- Plant a pollinator gardenwith a diversity of native nectar and pollen sources.
- Become a beekeeper. Beginner classes are sponsored by a number of local beekeeper groups around the state. The Virginia State Beekeepers Associationcan help by suggesting a local group to answer questions or mentor a new beekeeper.
- Build a nesting sitefor native bees.