No surprise that honey production was up this year after that very wet summer in 2012. But the yield of only 24.7lbs per hive in 2013, compared to 8.lbs last year, is as you’d expect after such a late spring well down on the long-term average of more like 40lbs a hive.
What’s of more interest from the survey of British Beekeeping Association members, is the regional variations. In Scotland beekeepers are getting close on 35lbs from one hive (the highest across the UK), while in London, where 10% of respondents kept their hives on rooftops, they could muster just 18.7lbs of honey per hive (the lowest yield in the UK).
A south-east honey survey for 2013, by the regional bee inspector, Alan Byham, seem to corroborate the figures in the BBKA survey. Each year, Alan asks beekeepers on his mailing list for information on honey yields and prices in the region. This year he had 414 replies. The average was 21 lbs (slightly up from 19lbs last year). But again it’s London where beekeepers are getting lower than average yields of just 19lb in 2013, compared to east sussex where the average crop per hive was 27lbs – the highest in the region.
However, it appears that in the south east, Kent beekeepers fare even worse than the capital’s. Kent’s hives yielded just 16lbs of honey this year. Moreover, while London apiarists can charge a premium for any of the scarce honey that they sell, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Kent.
(In the BBKA survey, Kent is included in the south east area of the UK along with surrey, west sussex and east sussex, which taken together had the third highest yield in the UK with 27.lbs per hive).
So what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from the figures ?
There are a lot more beekeepers and bees per hectre in London than the rest of the country, or there’s not enough forage for the bees in the capital? Or could it be a combination of the two? Or could it be that London beekeepers in the main are leaving their bees with more honey than other areas of the country? Alan says a number of beekeepers indicated that the colony made honey but they left it for them. He’s only included honey that was taken for sale or personal consumption.
As for Kent, could it that the bees weren’t out in time for the apple blossom this year in the Garden of England’s orchards because of the exceptionally cold spring?