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J Econ Entomol. 2009 Jun;102(3):868-86.

Structure of the U.S. beekeeping industry: 1982-2002.

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Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20036, USA.


There have been major structural changes in the beekeeping industry over the past 25 yr. The U.S. Census of Agriculture surveys indicate that colony inventory declined > 20% between 1982 and 2002, whereas the number of U.S. farms with apiculture enterprises fell > 70%. This decline in farm numbers was not uniform across different sized farms based on colony inventory--nearly 30,000 of the farms exiting the apiculture business had fewer than 25 colonies. With the number of farms declining faster than colony inventory, there has been a shift to larger farms. The Appalachia, Corn Belt, and Northeast states have the highest shares of apiculture farms, whereas the Pacific, Northern Plains, and Mountain states account for the largest shares of colonies. Farms with apiculture enterprises are concentrated in the smallest sales categories--87% of such farms had < $50,000 in sales in 2002. Only about one third of farms with apiculture activity reported that a majority of sales were from apiculture products--such as honey or colony sales. Compared with all U.S. farms, per farm payments for all types of government programs were smaller for farms with apiculture activities. Only about half of all beekeepers regard farming as their primary occupation, and nearly 60% of the operators work off the farm at least 1 d a year and approximately 40% work > 200 d off the farm in a given year. Beekeepers resembled all other farmers demographically--nearly 90% are white males, with an average age of 55.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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