Ohio Honey

Buckwheat and Wildflower Honey
Buckwheat and wildflower honey are popular types of honeys produced in Ohio

Ohio State Beekeepers Association was founded in 1888. Since then beekeeping has continued to grow in popularity. According to USDA reports, in 2018 Ohio produced over one million pounds of honey from 15,000 colonies. The main types of honey produced in Ohio are buckwheat, clover, basswood, and goldenrod honey.

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    What Is the History of Honey Production in Ohio?

    No honey-producing bees are native to Ohio, so the earliest that the state could grow honey would be at the arrival of the first European settlers, which occurred in the early eighteenth century.

    Despite honey bees’ relatively young presence in the state, Ohio still has a deep history with honey production. By the mid-to-late nineteenth century, beekeeping had become popular throughout Ohio, such that an official association was developed to organise the growing group of beekeepers.

    The official Ohio State Beekeepers Association began in 1888 and has existed under various names since then. The state’s honey output has continuously grown since then, peaking at well over 100,000 colonies in the state before the numbers dipped in the 1990s and early 2000s with the national decline in bee colonies due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

    How Much Honey Is Produced in Ohio?

    Ohio is one of the country’s major producers of honey. The USDA reported that in 2018, Ohio honey bees had produced over one million pounds of honey from 15,000 active colonies, with a total value of more than three million dollars for the production.

    What Are the Main Types of Honey Produced in Ohio?

    Most honey farms and apiaries in Ohio produce honey based on local multi-floral mixes to create wildflower honey. Other popular offerings across the state include buckwheat honey, clover honey, basswood honey, and goldenrod honey, all sourced from local Ohio floral life.

    A few even use fruits, such as blueberries and raspberries. Some beekeepers use floral sources from other states as well, such as orange blossom from Florida and buckwheat from neighbouring Michigan.

    Beehives on Clover Field
    Clover honey in Ohio is produced by subspecies of the European honey bee

    Is Ohio Honey Produced Seasonally, or Is It All Year Round?

    Bees are busiest when flowers bloom in the spring and fall, during which time flowers yield plentiful nectar for bees to consume. This means that honey production is highest during these times. As mentioned above, bees are unproductive and sometimes at risk of dangerous conditions during seasons of cold weather, so they produce the most honey during the more temperate times.

    Which Species of Bees Create Ohio Honey?

    Ohio is home to an extremely large and diverse population of bees. About 500 species of bees inhabit the state, many of which are native to Ohio, such as the ground-nesting mining bees (Andrena) and squash bees (Peponapis pruinosa). However, almost all honey in the state is produced by Western honey bees (Apis mellifera), also known as European honey bees.

    The most popular subspecies of the Western honey bee is the Italian bee (A. mellifera ligustica), while some beekeepers in Ohio do sell other variants such as Carniolan (A. mellifera carnica) and German bees (A. mellifera mellifera).

    What Native Plants and Trees Are Friendly to Pollinators in Ohio?

    The honey bee is probably the most familiar bee that lives in Ohio. However, not only is it only one out of hundreds of unique bees species in the state, but it is not even native to the state. A. mellifera and its subspecies are native to Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa. The honey bee only reached the Americas with the arrival of European settlers from Spain, England, and other countries starting in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

    Even if honey bees are not native to the state, there are a number of native plants and trees that are highly beneficial to pollinators. These include some of the following:

    Solidago canadensis - known as Canada Goldenrod Symphyotrichum ericoides - known as White Asters
    Symphyotrichum purpureae - known as Purple Asters Melilotus officinalis - known as Yellow Sweet Clover
    Lotus corniculatus - known as Birdsfoot Trefoil Trifolium repens - known as White Dutch Clover
    Melilotus alba - known as White Sweet Clover Nepeta spp - known as Catmints
    Asclepias tuberosa - known as Butterfly Weed Tradescantia ohiensis - known as Ohio Spiderwort
    Achillea millefolium - known as Western Yarrow Rudbeckia hirta - known as Black-eyed Susan

    In addition to these plants, some non-native species can also benefit pollinators like honey bees. These include Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), bush honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), purple starthistle (Centaurea calcitrapa), spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), and autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata).

    Are There Any Major Honey Farms or Apiaries in Ohio?

    Ohio’s significant honey production comes from a number of major honey farms and apiaries throughout the state. Most honey farms in Ohio are clustered towards the northern sections of the state, near the Great Lakes and just southwest of Cleveland. Many of these apiaries have been in business for decades and range from larger commercial ventures to smaller family-owned businesses. A few notable establishments include:

    • Queen Right Colonies in Spencer – in business for over 25 years
    • Don Popps Honey Farm in Hamilton – in business for over 20 years
    • Conrad Hive and Honey – in business 15 years
    • Kline Honey Bee Farm in Rootstown
    • Orchard Lane Apiary in Columbus
    Apis Mellifera Collecting Nectar from Goldenrod
    European honey bee pollinating goldenrod
    Honeybee With Large Pollen Basket On Aster Flower
    Aster is a pollinator-friendly plant native to Ohio

    What Sort of Environment Is Required to Produce Ohio Honey?

    Beekeepers in Ohio do need to be aware of the state’s weather. Ohio typically experiences cool temperatures throughout the year, with temperatures typically averaging about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keepers should ensure that their bees are kept relatively warm and secure during cold weather.

    Low temperatures discouraged bee activity, which in turn slows their production of honey. Excessively low temperatures can lead to bee starvation because it prevents bees from accessing their honey.

    Weather can also lead to a hazardous condition called a chilled brood. This typically occurs in the Spring months of April and May, when unusually warm days are followed by a sudden cold snap. During this time, much of the outer edges of the hive’s brood may die, because the hive had not been prepared during the warm times to protect the brood from the abrupt cold.

    This can lead to the deaths of many larvae and pupae, who may be quickly removed from the hive by the surviving bees. Chilled broods can change the brood’s colour to yellow-white, with traces of black. It can sometimes have a faint, sour smell.

    Like many other states, Ohio requires that all beekeepers officially register their apiaries with the state. There are several laws that they must comply with under Chapter 909 of the Ohio Revised Code, which deals with apiary law. Some stipulations concern topics regarding bee location, disease management, transportation, importation, and negligence.

    The law also regulates that bees should be kept in locations and manners that do not pose a nuisance to the public.

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