Statistics on Bees and Honey

Chief, Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Branch, Estimates Division, Economics, Statistics, and Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250

Revised October 1980
Pages 180 – 181

The Department’s Economics, Statistics, and Cooperative Service provides annual statistics on bees and honey. Of the 44 State statistical offices, excluding Alaska, 43 perform list maintenance, data collection, and analysis. State lists are stratified by size groups, with special emphasis placed on apiaries with 300 or more colonies.

The present statistical program consists of two reports. The first report, released in September, provides data on the number of colonies yield per colony, and honey production from commercial beekeepers with 300 or more colonies in the 20 major honey-producing States. The second report, released in January, contains annual production statistics for all States and the United States, wholesale and retail prices received by producers, value of honey production, stocks of honey in producers’ hands as of December 15, and beeswax production, value, and price.

For the September report, commercial beekeepers with 300 or more colonies are surveyed. They are considered the commercial segment of primarily wholesale producers. They accounted for about 55 percent of the Nation’s 1976 honey crop. Questionnaires are mailed to all names on the commercial beekeeper list, and those not responding by mail are contacted either by telephone or in person for the information. The questionnaire asks for the number of colonies at the beginning of the honey flow and the quantity of honey taken and expected to be taken during the current production year. A third question asks for information on colonies reported in one State that might be located in another State. The purpose of this question is to identify possible duplication of reported colonies between States.

Approximately 7 work days elapse between data collection and publication of the September report.

For the January report, all beekeepers (regardless of size) are surveyed. The list of honey producers surveyed is developed and maintained, using various sources such as State apiarists, county agents, ASCS county offices, and State honey associations. Survey procedures for the January report are basically the same as for the September report. Questionnaires are mailed to the beekeepers about December 1 and the estimates are published about mid-January.

The major types of estimators or indications used for the two SRS honey statistics reports are the identical and control-data expansions. These indications are computed for each stratum and weighted to a State total.

The identical expansion is a ratio (current number of colonies reported divided by the number reported the previous year by the same respondents) times the previous year estimate.

The control data expansion is a ratio (universe control data divided by control data in the sample … those reporting) times reported sample data. Control data represent the most recent known or estimated number of colonies for each beekeeper. Beekeepers are stratified on the basis of their control data.

The total pounds of honey, as reported by producers, are divided by the sample number of colonies to obtain an average yield per colony for each stratum. A weighted State average is computed.

Stocks of honey for sale as of December 15 are obtained by dividing the reported stocks by the reported honey produced in each strata. A weighted State percentage is computed and multiplied by the estimated honey produced.

The estimate of pounds of beeswax produced is obtained by dividing the reported pounds of beeswax by the reported honey produced. A weighted State percentage is computed and multiplied by the total pounds of honey to obtain the pounds of beeswax produced.

State statistical offices consider data on number of colonies inspected by State inspectors as check data when preparing estimates for their State.

The estimates are submitted to USDA’s Crop Reporting Board in Washington, D.C., for review before publication. Revisions are made only if additional data become available from later surveys. Honey statistics are subject to revision the following year and again every 5 years when reviewed in connection with the U.S. Census of Agriculture.

The estimated price of all honey sold is a weighted price obtained by combining prices for each size of container sold, both wholesale and retail. The weights are derived from reported pounds of honey sold in each category-extracted, comb, chunk, bulk, and all honey.

The statistical program on bees and honey began over 35 years ago. This program has been adjusted to meet bee industry needs for dependable statistical data. Most program changes result from expressed needs by a broad spectrum of the bee and honey industry. Programs can be modified without additional resources, if the cost of providing the new data items is offset by discontinuing a data series that is no longer needed or has limited use. The willingness and ability of the respondent to report the new or added data also must be considered.