Here at Runamok we are all about fun and good food but we also believe in keeping it real. If we have a great maple season, we will shout if from the rooftops but if it was meh, we’ll be up front about that too. This was one of those disappointing years. It wasn’t terrible and it certainly wasn’t that we didn’t do our best, it was simply because the weather did not go our way. When it needed to be warm, it was too cold and vice versa. Then we had a full three days in the 80s which brought everything to a halt early. Reports from our peers have been similar. Every year is different so it didn’t signify anything other than the wavy curve that is maple production. But then we read the USDA honey report.
We are now buyers of honey and have come to know producers from one side of the country to the other. This is the time of year that we learn how the Orange Blossom and Tupelo honey crops in Florida went since their season is January till mid April. Their production was also not great, weather being their foe as well. Two hurricanes last fall destroyed hives and habitat. We could give you the highlights but the USDA quarterly synopsis for Florida, (as of March 2023) said it best.
“Nutritionally deficient hives led to a larger percentage of Colony Collapse Disorder for many beekeepers. Normally most hives lost to CCD are offset by splitting and building more hives. The losses this year were in many cases impossible to replace, possibly reaching 50% or more for some beekeepers. The freezing temperatures around Christmas also contributed to a more stressful environment for the bees and less natural sources of food. There was practically no honey produced in Florida during the month or stored at the end of the month.”
Sobering indeed, especially since Florida is where many beekeepers take their hives for the winter to keep them healthy.
Just out of curiosity, and with an increasing sense of dis-ease, we looked up the data for cane sugar in the US for the past year. While production overall is just fine, there was a slight decrease in 2022-2023 because of a December freeze in Louisiana and Texas. Are you starting to look at the sugarbowl differently?
While there is no need for panic, we need to acknowledge that climate change is affecting our food supply right here, right now. There is nothing theoretical about stronger storms and wonky temperatures, we are experiencing them in real time and seeing the results. Earth Day has come and gone but the business of taking care of the planet should be a full time gig for all of us. You know the drill: check your carbon footprint, reduce, reuse, recycle, support renewable energy. And don’t take for granted the sweet gifts that the earth gives us, whether they are from trees, plants, or bees. Maybe taking away our sugar is the best way she has to really get our attention.