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Some North Louisiana bee colonies get wiped out by flooding

Kate Archer Kent

More than 100 bee colonies have perished in the Red River flood. Local beekeepers say this will greatly reduce the amount of honey produced in North Louisiana in the coming months. William Hummer owns Hummer and Son Honey Farm in Bossier City. He’s lost about 20 percent of his operation. Flood waters inundated 100 colonies.

“Normally we should be pulling honey in and just be tired, sweaty and sticky. Now we’re pulling a little honey in and building up more colonies at the same time,” Hummer said.

Randy Fair of Clear Lake Apiary in Mansfield, La., lost 25 colonies. His bees are just south of Shreveport. Fair propped up his hives to 35 feet, but it wasn’t enough. He could only reach them by boat, and there was no chance of moving them.

“Bees are a little different than other farm animals. You can’t just herd them up. There’s 50,000 of them in each colony. You can’t just move them 20 or 30 feet because if you do they’ll just want to go back to their same location,” Fair said.

Hummer says his bees need the fertile pastures along the Red River. But this land is all under water now. He thinks it will take a couple years for the flowers to return. He learned lessons from his beekeeper father who rebuilt following the 1990 flood.

Credit Kate Archer Kent
William Hummer is a second generation owner of Hummer & Son Honey Farm, founded by his father in 1986.

“You can cry about it and wish that you had been told more and had better information. But the bottom line is you just have to get out there, clean it out and get them reestablished,” Hummer said.

These beekeepers can’t get to their ruined colonies yet. But they estimate their loss of bees, equipment and honey production are in the tens of thousands of dollars. Both say they’ll raise their colonies higher and try to keep their bee yards on the right side of the levee in the future.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.