The Unexpected State That Produces The Most Honey In The US

Honey has long been a part of people's diets. Per World Atlas, humanity has been using honey for eight millennia, if not longer. Cave art from 8,000 years ago shows ancient individuals harvesting wild honey, according to Statista. In modern times, over a million metric tons of natural honey are harvested across the globe each year, usually from domesticated beehives.

Per World Atlas, the thick, gold liquid results from bees gathering up nectar and pollen, then combining that nectar with an enzyme produced by the insects. Afterward, the modified nectar is stored in honeycombs where it loses moisture and takes shape. When the buzzing insects cover these cells in their wax, then beekeepers harvest the long-lasting, sugary material. At the store, you'll see packaged honey, raw or processed, whether that be in the comb, cut comb, or liquid form.

The U.S. is among the top handful of honey producers in the world, alongside Argentina, China, Turkey, and Ukraine. While much of its honey stays within the nation, a fair bit is exported to countries like Canada, South Korea, and the Philippines. Some top honey-producing states include Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington. Texas is in fifth, Florida in fourth, California in third, and South Dakota in second (via Statista). However, the top state is somewhat surprising since many bees need to stay warm throughout the entire year, winter included (via World Atlas). Yet, the number one state is one of the colder northern states, sitting along the Canadian border.

North Dakota's Honey Production

The Peace Garden State, more commonly known as North Dakota, is responsible for producing the most honey in the U.S. (via Statista). In 2020, it produced 38.6 million pounds of the stuff, worth more than $60 million, according to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. Over 200 beekeepers, each keeping a thousand or more colonies, are registered in the state, per World Atlas. Still, why produce so much honey in North Dakota if its winters can be lethal to honeybees? As explained by Marketplace, summer in North Dakota creates an environment that's perfect for honey bees. The cool nights and warm days in the summertime help flowers secrete large amounts of nectar. More nectar means more honey.

You may have noticed that some of the other top honey-producing states are near North Dakota, like Minnesota, Montana, and South Dakota. This doesn't appear to be pure happenstance. For instance, as reported by U.S. News, a beekeeping supply business opened up in southwestern North Dakota in 2022. Commercial Bee Supply aims to provide close by honey-industry insiders with the things they need to succeed with the help of local and state incentive programs. This sort of cooperation is a big boon for the honey bee business since Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota together make almost 50% of the nation's honey. Midwest states such as North Dakota can often be overlooked, but their honey production proves just how sweet they truly are.