More than 100 organic farmers have offered use of their land to commercial beekeepers, as part of a new program facilitated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. State organic program leader Meg Moynihan said that MDA is helping beekeepers find organic farms by creating an online resource to connect them to each other.
“Beekeepers are dependent on landowners allowing us to place colonies on their land,” said Minnesota Honey Producers Association President Dan Whitney. “Some commercial outfits have more than 100 locations spread out over a 100 mile radius from their hometown.”
A healthy hive needs millions of flowers to make honey, and organic farms typically have many of them growing within the fields. Organic farms also may offer different sources of pollen and nectar that appeal to honeybees, with less risk of pesticide exposure.
Whitney said beekeepers need to target basswood trees and legumes such as alfalfa, sweet clover, and ground clovers. On organic farms, the bee colonies tend to make a little more honey, he said, and are usually stronger and healthier in the fall, enabling them to survive winter at a higher rate, compared to other locations.
Interested beekeepers and others can review organic farm availability at: www.mda.state.mn.us/hivehosts.aspx