Coty Cooper, a hobbyist beekeeper in Alvarado, Texas, checks on honey production in one of his 40-something hives on Oct. 12.
Cooper is one of many locals who say the drought has devastated beekeeping.
“[The drought] didn’t impact it, it shut us down,” he says. “There’s just no honey. If there ain’t no rain, there ain’t no plants, there ain’t no honey.”
Like Cooper, Joshua, Texas residents Don and Erma Russell, who have been beekeeping for about 13 years, say the weather has affected their bee colonies. In 2010, the Russells kept up to 100 hives at a time and sold about 60 gallons of honey. This year, they’re at 53 hives and have only sold six gallons.
“I’ve lost money,” Don says, “because the weather has been so dry and there hasn’t been much honey.”
John Talbert of the Texas Beekeepers Association says honey production in Texas has dropped about 50 percent due to the drought.