RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s honey harvest ramps up in September and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is encouraging honey lovers to take advantage of this season’s favorable harvest by purchasing local honey at farmers’ markets, festivals and other celebrations. According to a recent survey by the Virginia Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Virginia honey bee colonies have increased by 23 percent since last year. In 2016, Virginia honey production was valued at $1.1 million.
“Honey bee pollination is an important part of Virginia’s agricultural industry,” said VDACS Commissioner Sandy Adams. “An increase in honey bee colonies often means there are more bees to pollinate crops and the result of that pollination means more honey for the consumer.”
Virginia crops such as apples, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash and blueberries are dependent on pollinators like honey bees to fully develop their fruits. Production of other crops such as soybeans, sunflowers and even peanuts receive benefit from pollination by honey bees and other insect pollinators. In fact, pollination by honey bees contributes more than $15 billion to the value of U.S. crop production each year.
To acknowledge the work of those harvesting honey and the value of honey to the Commonwealth, Gov. Terence R. McAuliffe has proclaimed September as Virginia Honey Month.
“Honey Month is a time to celebrate the products of the hive such as honey, beeswax and the bees,” said Keith Tignor, State Apiarist at VDACS. “Every Virginian can help honey bee populations by providing flowering plants around their homes and supporting local beekeepers.”
Tignor suggests the following actions to help sustain Virginia’s honey bee population:
- Plant a pollinator garden using a diversity of nectar and pollen sources to help feed bees and other pollinators
- Become a beekeeper. Beginner classes are sponsored by a number of local beekeeper groups around the state. The Virginia State Beekeepers Association can help by suggesting a local group to answer questions or mentor a new beekeeper.
- Support beekeepers in the state by purchasing locally produced honey. Honey from different locations and times of the year have unique and always enjoyable flavors.
- Build a nesting site for native bees. Information on building a Mason bee box or providing nesting material for bumble bees, leaf cutters and other pollinators is available from the Cooperative Extension Service.
— Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services