North Dakota honey harvest underway, expected to lead the nation in production

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CENTER, N.D. - North Dakota produces more honey than any other state and it's not even close. In order to keep the top spot, beekeepers need to keep disease and parasites away while praying for good weather.

We met Backer Bees back in July when they showed us how they were avoiding colony loss. At that time, a new report came out showing record loss numbers across the country. Dusty and Pat Backer say North Dakota's climate is really good for the bees and a variety of plants is good for honey and healthy hives. But that was in July and they were in the midst of a honey run. Now Backer Bees takes us under their wing again to show us how they get the honey from hive to jar.

Frame by frame, the 2019 honey harvest is starting and Backer Bees like what they see.

"We were super blessed and had a decent amount of rain in the last two weeks and the bees have really done well the last two or three weeks here,” said Dusty.

To get the honey off the hives, they load them onto a conveyer belt which takes the wax caps off the honey, then put around 90 frames in a spinner, which is where the magic starts to happen.

"We put them in the extractors. They spin it out and all the honey and wax go down into a sump tank. From the tank we have a two-inch pump which pumps it through a heat exchanger which heats up the honey to about 90-95 degrees. Then it puts it into the wax spinner, which separates the wax and honey, dumps the wax out on the floor which looks like sawdust,” said Dusty.

When it's ready, he packs it up and ships it from Texas to Minnesota. If the market isn't great, Dusty says that's okay because he can wait until it improves.

"Honey in North Dakota never spoils because it's dry enough,” said Dusty.

Before it gets into the little jars, Dusty has to put into these 55 gallon drums. He fills anywhere from 200-350 of the 55-gallon drums every year. That’s anywhere from 130,800-228,900 pounds, or 65-114 tons of honey per year.