Nevada Honey

Buckwheat Honey
Buckwheat honey is one of the most popular types of honeys Nevada produces

Early in 2019, Nevada’s capital, Carson City, was named its first official “Bee City.” This was an acknowledgment of the fact that southern Nevada is the area of the state most active in beekeeping and honey production. 

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    When Did Nevada’s Honey Production Begin?

    Paleontologist-entomologist Michael Engle recently identified a 14-million-year-old fossil record in Nevada. The fossil record suggests that honey bees indeed existed in North America 14 million years ago. Engle and his colleagues named this ancient bee Apis nearctica.

    This species of bee no longer exists; however, researchers say that it is most similar to the Apis armbrusteri Zeuner from the Miocene epoch of southwestern Germany. During the Pliocene and Pleistocene honey bees were absent from North America and only got reintroduced by European settlers in the early 17th century.

    How Much Honey Does Nevada State Produce?

    In the USDA production reports Nevada is in the group of unlisted states which includes Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island. This is due to the fact that Nevada is not considered a prominent honey producer in the US. In 2019 this group collectively produced 1,418,000 pounds of honey from a total of 30,000 honey-producing colonies.

    What Are the Main Kinds of Honey Produced in Nevada?

    Some of the most popular kinds of honeys produced in Nevada include Alfalfa honey, Buckwheat honey, Chestnut honey, Goldenrod, Lehua honey, Sourwood honey and Wildflower honey.

    Sourwood Tree in Bloom In The Great Smoky Mountains
    Nevada's Sourwood honey is produced from the sourwood tree during blooming season

    Is Nevada Honey Produced Seasonally or Is It All Year Round?

    Honey bees in Nevada are the most active during the summer months and this is the time when honey harvesting happens. Beekeepers typically extract honey more than once between June and August.

    Which Species of Bees Create Nevada Honey?

    Nevada honey farms typically use subspecies of the Western honey bee. Russian hybrids and Carniolan honey bees are also popular choice amongst beekeepers.

    Which Pollinator-Friendly Plants and Trees Are Native to Nevada?

    The region in which Nevada’s flora is found is typically referred to as the Nevada-Utah Mountains/Semi-Desert/Coniferous Forest/Alpine Meadow Province. The vegetation on which the honey bees have to feed is quite varied and typical of the region:

    Trees and Shrubs Serviceberry, Green Leaf Manzanita, Black Hawthorn, Rock Spirea, Honeysuckle, Chokecherry, Antelope Bitterbrush, Golden Currant, Nootka Rosa, Snowberry
    Perennials Yarrow, Colorado Columbine, Asters, Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Blue Camas, Green Gentian, Sticky Geranium, Prairie Smoke, Mountain Hollyhock, Scarlet Gilia, Gordon's Ivesia, Flax, Silver Lupine, Mountain Bluebells, Mountain Pennyroyal, Wasatch Penstemon, Rydburg's Penstemon, Showy Penstemon, Whipple's Penstemon, Jacob's Ladder, Coneflower, Malo's Ears, Narrowleaf Yucca.

    Are There Any Major Honey Farms or Apiaries in Nevada?

    Despite a relatively lower statewide honey production as compared to the rest of the United States, Nevada boasts many successful aviaries.

    • Pahrump Honey Company – Pahrump
    • Missbeehaven Farm – Dayton
    • Tom’s Bee Hives – Las Vegas
    Italian Honey Bee Feeding on Bee Balm
    Nevada beekeepers like to use Italian honey bees due to their passive nature
    Carniolan Bee Collecting Nectar
    Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica) pollinating

    Beekeeping in Nevada Today

    While it would seem that the Africanised Honey Bee is the greatest threat to beekeeping in Nevada (the Africanised Honey Bee has been quarantined to this point from moving north of Clark County), it should be noted that on the whole, Nevada is a relatively insignificant producer of honey nationwide.

    Most of the contributing factors have to do with colony loss, a condition that plagues not only Nevada and America but also the world. Suffice it to say that Nevada is such an insignificant producer of honey that its statistics are typically not published in the USDA’s production numbers. This is done to avoid disclosing data for individual operations. In that regard, Nevada is typically in the group of unlisted states, which includes Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.

    One of the most obvious contributing reasons for Nevada’s not being a natural honey producer is, quite simply, that with much of the state’s topography is either desert or mountainous regions, finding adequate and quality forage for bees is a challenge. This is one of the reasons that Nevada beekeepers want to continue to work for their colonies in residential neighborhoods – it is in the residential areas where a number of fruit trees can be found along with black locust trees and linden trees.

    The primary factor is, however, the aforementioned struggle with colony loss. Between April 1st, 2019, and April 1st, 2020, Nevada suffered a 43.7% loss of bee colonies, which was its second-highest rate of loss since the 2010-’11 season. The reasons that have a hand in Nevada’s honey bee dilemma are both familiar and many.

    The honeybees in the state are continuing to experience a loss of natural habitat and forage as a result of land development. If the bees have quality environments in which to thrive and access to high-level nutrition sources, they are less susceptible to diseases and other stressors. Further, if their environments lack access to appropriate amounts of clean water and/or they are exposed to pollutants, there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll be carrying not only pollen but also contaminants back to the hive with them.

    Controlling the Africanized Honey Bee Population

    By eliminating beekeepers and beehives nearly altogether, they would, according to one official, essentially be “abandoning the territory to the enemy,” because there would be many fewer professionals in the area who properly knew how to manage beehives and contain bees. Without that line of defense, the AHB would be free to control the area and possibly begin the migration north. The goal here was containment, and officials argued that the beekeepers were the ones most qualified to do just that.

    Nevada is a relatively minor state producer of honey. Still, a bill intended to ban beekeeping to any significant degree in the southern part of the state would be dangerous to what the state’s industry offers.

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