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May 18, 2014 12:05 PM

Early Rains Have Honey Producers Optimistic

Sioux Falls, SD

South Dakota honey producers are banking on a rebound in production this year after last summer's cool temperatures led to a 9 percent drop.

The state fell from second to third in honey production last year, with 14.84 million pounds. The USDA says North Dakota held on to the top spot and Montana took second.

Bees prefer to collect nectar when temperatures range from the 70s to 90s, and they bring back less to the hive in cooler weather. High temperatures last June and July were below normal.

Sturgis Honey owner John Stolle says he's hoping for warmer temperatures this summer, and beekeepers are encouraged by early spring rains. The moisture should help alfalfa grow and prompt clover to pop up, which will give bees a source for nectar.

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