In addition to crop pollination services, honey bees are responsible for producing all U.S. honey. While other bees are important as pollinators of crops and wild plants, all the honey we enjoy is produced by honey bees. The Upper Midwest is the highest honey-producing region in the nation. Yields of honey per colony are highest in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. Most of the honey in this region comes from nectar of clover and alfalfa flowers. Minnesota prides itself on delicious and unique honey produced from native Basswood (Tilia americana) trees.Sadly, honey yields even in the Upper Midwest are declining due to the replacement of flowering plants with large monocultures of corn and soybeans. Also, the ubiquitous use of herbicides kills off flowering nectar plants along crop borders, ditches, and roadsides.

Planting more nectar producing – bee friendly plants will help our bees stay healthy and help our beekeepers produce more honey! If you have a large tract of land or yard, consider sowing it in clover or alfalfa. These legumes will fix nitrogen, improving the health of your soil while providing nectar and pollen for bees. Or, plant native flowering plants, many of which are good nectar and pollen producers: www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/

For more about honey, visit www.honey.com/