The bee business isn't easy, and this year's drought hasn't made it any better. "We just haven't had the rains," said bee keeper Mitch Irion.
No rainfall means fewer plants for the bees to buzz around. "Really we're based on how the alfalfa and the sweet clover grows," said Irion.
For him this could be the worst year of honey production in his career. "Last year was a record year for production and this year it's just the opposite," said Irion. "It's probably a record of bad production."
One group of hives made 6 barrels of honey last year, and Irion says he'll be lucky to get one barrel from them this year. Overall Irion says it's a bad year for honey in the Black Hills. "It's looking like right now I'm probably going to produce about five to six barrels from the Spearfish area," said Irion.
That's about seven percent of what he produced from this area last year, but Irion says he is one of the lucky ones. "I lease bees down in the Pierre area and fortunately they got some timely rains down there so we will have some honey production," said Irion.
There's not much a bee keeper can do to protect their hives against a drought. "You can't control the weather and it is what it is," said Irion. "It's just like the ranchers you know they don't have any hay and we don't have any honey so it kind of goes hand in hand."
Irion says he'll just have to push through the bad times and hope that next year is sweeter.