MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — North Dakota is the top honey-producing state in the country, and like many other producers in the state, beekeepers had a reduced yield of honey in previous years due to our difficult drought.

Over the last few years, the drought reduced the crop yield across the state, and that included honey.

Beekeeper William Nissen says less moisture, means less honey made.

“Well if you don’t have moisture, you don’t have nectar which is what the bees haul. So a lot of counties were really affected by the drought. So, yeah, crop was off especially in them dry counties,” said Will Nissen, beekeeper, and owner of Five Star Honey Farms.

He says he has beehives in nine counties across the state and in the northwest, the bees had a decent amount of honey.

Nissen has already started extracting honey this year, and he says things are looking good so far.

“It could definitely be up. I mean, anybody from North Dakota can just drive around and see a lot more flowers. Last year we were looking at a lot of brown, but this year there’s a lot of flowers yet. The bees are still hauling pollen, which is a good sign, which last year the pollen that they were bringing in was not adequate at all.”

He says he moves his bees from North Dakota to California every year, to help pollinate crops there.

“Traditionally starting out in January, all the bees are in California. First part of May, we move them all up to North Dakota, get them all spread out. And then they run the summer and usually towards the first part of October, we start migrating them back to California,” said Nissen.

Nissen says running a honey farm is all about raising healthy hives and enjoying the fruits of the labor.

“Well, eat honey. This is what it’s all about is raising honey and keeping bees alive, which is probably the biggest challenge to any beekeeper is keeping good health hives. We’ve got a lot of nemeses out there that we fight all the time,” said Nissen.

Five Star Honey Farms is a part of the Sioux Honey Association Co-op, which manufactures Sue Bee and Aunt Sue’s honey.