Mitchell County residents should mark their calendars to thank a beekeeper next month, since the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors has joined a statewide effort to preserve the native honey bee population.

According to the Iowa Honey Bee Day Proclamation, issued by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, honey bees are “important as pollinators for a third of the food we eat, and [they] are vital in production of over 90 crops grown across the nation, many of which are in Iowa.”

Iowa reportedly is home to about 45,000 honey bee hives, which collectively produce around four million pounds of honey annually. The state’s honey production generates an estimated $8 million in revenue for Iowan beekeepers.

Iowa’s beekeepers are composed of a mix of commercial full-time beekeepers, hobbyists and people who started beekeeping as a part-time venture. A bee farm could have as few as one hive, or up to thousands, and could supply honey for one family or sustain a small business.

Two prominent beekeepers in the local area are Karl and Molly Jensen, who operate Dam Pure Honey in Mitchell, according to a 2014 news article in the Mitchell County Press. At that time, the couple maintained a 25-hive colony of bees situated just a quarter-mile from a dam located on the Cedar River.

The Iowa Honey Bee Proclamation states that honey bees are at serious risk posed by invasive pests, variable climates, increasing pesticide usage, herbicides and decreasing bee friendly forage.

The Iowan network of state and county roads comprises a total of over 110,000 miles; the governor has affirmed that the state will provide more native plantings and reducing mowing and spraying of herbicides along these roadsides in an effort to increase honey bee survival.

The BOS and Governor Kim Reynolds “encourage all citizens, residents and visitors to join in observing this day and focusing on the importance of honey bees to our state economy, to enjoy the honey and other products of honey bees, to recognize the honey bees’ role in maintaining our Iowa environment and to assist in reducing the threats to honey bee survival in our state.”

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