Leading Honey Producing States In The US

North Dakota and South Dakota are the two leaders in US honey production, ranking number one and two in honey production in the country.

What Is Honey?

Honey is a thick, golden-colored, natural, sweet substance that is created by bees when they collect plant pollen and nectar. The nectar is combined with an enzyme produced by honey bees and stored in a honeycomb cell. The moisture within the cell is reduced, concentrating the product. It has the sweetness of granulated sugar, from monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and a distinct flavor. Honey prevents the growth of many microorganisms and therefore, does not spoil. In fact, some researchers have even found thousand-year-old, still edible honey. The use of honey by humans dates back to at least 8,000 years ago.

The Production Of Honey

Beekeepers harvest honey from the honeycomb once the bees have covered the cells in wax. This honey may then be packaged and sold in its raw form or heated and filtered. The honey available for purchase comes in several presentations including: liquid, comb (the comb can also be eaten), and cut comb (liquid honey with pieces of comb inside). The top 3 producers of honey in the world are: China, Turkey, and the US. This article takes a closer look at the top 3 honey producers in the US.

The Leading Honey Producing States In The US

In 2014, the US was the 3rd leading honey producer in the world with 80,862 tons produced. Within this country, some states produce significantly more than others.

North Dakota

North Dakota is the top honey producing state in the country. In 2014, this state reported a total of 42.14 million pounds of honey. This equates to a value of more than $84 million. The state, in 2010, had approximately 246 registered beekeepers, although that number has been growing each year. Each beekeeper manages between 1,000 and 1,500 bee colonies on average. The average yield of each colony is roughly 78 pounds. As of 2016, the price of honey was at $1.73 per pound, which is a slight decrease from 2015 at $1.80 per pound. Some beekeepers move their bees to warmer locations during the winter because they would not be able to survive the cold temperatures of North Dakota. This move also allows them to produce and harvest honey year-round.

South Dakota

The second leading producer of honey is South Dakota, which produced 24.36 million pounds of honey in 2014. This quantity of honey is worth over $28,643,000. This state is home to approximately 185 registered beekeepers, who manage around 280,000 bee colonies (excluding those found in the wild). The majority of the honey produced in South Dakota is an alfalfa-sweet clover blend (the flavor of honey changes depending on which plant the bees have access to). The beekeepers and agricultural workers of this state often collaborate to ensure crop pollination. Generally, there is no charge for this as the activity is mutually beneficial to both parties. A study conducted by Cornell University determined that honeybee pollination in South Dakota brings $10.7 billion of value to the crops.


Florida is the third leading honey producing state in the US. In 2014, beekeepers here produced around 14.7 million pounds of honey. This amount has a value of $27 million. As in South Dakota, beekeepers and agricultural workers collaborate on pollination services, which add approximately $65 million in value to Florida crops. The honey produced here often comes from a variety of fruit trees, a common agricultural crop in Florida.

The chart published below offers a closer look at the leading honey producing states in the US.

Leading Honey Producing States In The US

RankUS StateHoney production in 2014 (in 1,000 pounds)
1North Dakota42,140
2South Dakota24,360

About the Author

Amber is a freelance writer, English as a foreign language teacher, and Spanish-English translator. She lives with her husband and 3 cats.


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