Mississippi honey bees pollinate to produce honey for a few reasons. The simplest explanation is that, when managed by professional beekeepers, they make honey for commercial purposes of consumption, packaging, and selling. However, they have their own reasons as well. Pollen helps the hives’ brood grow and develop and are a valuable source of protein for the hive.
Nectar is also an important food source for mature bees. Nectar is converted into honey, which mature bees live on. Any leftover honey is stored in combs, which bees can live on during months when they cannot forage for food.
What Is the History of Honey Production in Mississippi?
Mississippi has a long and illustrious history of beekeeping. Honey bees were first brought to the Americas in the early 1600s when English settlers began colonising the east coast. Honey bees consequently began spreading westward as settlers continued to explore.
Commercial beekeeping really took off in Mississippi, to the point that the state had amassed the largest commercial honey production industry in the country by the 1920s. While other states have since surpassed Mississippi when it comes to volume and value of the honey they make, Mississippi continues to be one of the country’s major honey producers.
How Much Honey Is Made in Mississippi Each Year?
What Are the Main Types of Honey Produced in Mississippi?
Beekeepers produce Mississippi honey from a diverse assortment of native floral sources. Some of the most common kinds of honey produced in the state include white dutch clover honey, vetch honey, and soybean honey.
Other beekeepers produce their honey from a mixture of floral sources to create wildflower honey. And in addition to that, some get their floral sources from neighbouring states, such as Alabama tallow or goldenrod honey.
Is Mississippi Honey Produced Seasonally, or All Year Round?
Because Mississippi is located in the warm southern United States, bees are able to generally remain active for most of the year. In other states, bees need to cluster to stay warm and survive the winter, whereas due to the warmer weather in Mississippi, bees can continue to forage and produce honey for themselves throughout the year.
However, that does not mean that bees are constantly producing excess honey for beekeepers to harvest. Rather, it is usually only in the mid-to-late springtime that bees produce enough excess honey to be harvested. This honey flow continues throughout the summer, often stopping in July.
Which Bees Create Mississippi Honey?
Mississippi honey is primarily created by the European honey bee (Apis mellifera), also known as the Western honey bee. This bee has numerous subspecies, the most popular of which is the Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera ligustica). This species is popular with beginning beekeepers because it is more docile than other bee breeds and is easier to raise.
There are other European honey bee subspecies raised in the state, such as the German honey bee (A. mellifera mellifera) and the Carniolan bee (A. mellifera carnica).
What Native Plant and Tree Species Are Friendly to Pollinators?
Mississippi is home to many species of bees. However, out of all the bees in the state, the honey bee is easily the most iconic. This is despite the fact that honey bees are not actually native to Mississippi.
As their name would suggest, European honey bees are native to Europe and surrounding regions in the Middle East and Northern Africa. They were first brought to North America in the seventeenth century, after which time they began to spread wherever the settlers went.
Even if honey bees themselves are not native to Mississippi, there are many native plants and trees in the state that can prove beneficial to bees. These include a few of the following:
|Vernonia fasciculata - known as Ironweednovae-angliae - known as New England aster||Vernonia fasciculata - known as Ironweed|
|Mertensia virginica - known as Virginia Bluebells||Achillea millefolium - known as Yarrow|
|Conoclinium coelestinum - known as Blue Mistflower||Ilex opaca - known as American Holly|
|Agastache foeniculum - known as Anise Hyssop||Zizia aurea - known as Golden Alexander|
|Echinacea purpurea - known as Purple Coneflower||Ratibida pinnata - known as Yellow Coneflower|
|Rudbeckia fulgida - known as Orange Coneflower||Gaura lindheimeri - known as Gaura|
In addition to these native species, many beekeepers also make use of nonnative plants for their pollinators, such as the Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa japonica) and the Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).
Are There Any Major Honey Farms or Apiaries in Mississippi?
With its large output of honey each year, it is to be expected that Mississippi is home to several large honey-selling enterprises. However, a large amount of honey comes from hobbyists and small family businesses.
Some of these ventures have been in business for decades, some even more than half a century. A few of them include Smith Honey Bee Farm in Petal (in business over 20 years), Pennington Farms in Pearl (in business over 50 years), and Adee Honey Farms in Woodville (in business over 50 years).
What Sort of Environment Is Needed to Produce Mississippi Honey?
In the early parts of the year, beekeepers in Mississippi need to watch out for swarming. This is a natural phenomenon in which large numbers of bees leave the hive at once, along with their queen, in search of new homes.
Although this is not inherently dangerous, it is nonetheless annoying for neighbours to have large swarms of bees flying around, and it can be devastating for beekeepers since it can result in the loss of a queen and her valuable honey-producing bees.
To prevent swarming, beekeepers should consider rearranging the panels of their colonies to trick the bees into thinking that they have more space.
Varroa mites are another threat that faces beekeepers in Mississippi. These pests are not only highly destructive on their own, but they can also bring deadly viruses and diseases that can devastate bee populations. They initially emerge each year towards the end of winter and become a larger problem as the weather warms up.
If left unchecked, they can destroy an entire healthy colony in a matter of weeks. Beekeepers must always monitor their colonies for the presence of varroa mites, and if their population exceeds a given threshold, then responsive measures must be taken immediately. Either pesticides or natural treatments like essential oils can be effective against these pests.
Like many states, Mississippi has several laws to regulate its beekeeping industry. One of the more notable of these is the disease prevention law, which requires that beekeepers in the state get their hives officially inspected to avoid the spread of deadly disease among bee populations.
Travelling beekeepers must have an up-to-date certificate of inspection if they want to transport their bees in or out of state. This is critical for beekeepers whose business relies on transporting their bees to friendlier environments when need be.