Steve Stoddard, Delta, transports his bee colonies from California to South Dakota to pollinate crops. He says almost everywhere they went was drier than normal, but his home turf of west-central Utah was the exception.
"We did okay in Delta, Utah, but some of the other places in Utah didn't do very well. Probably there was less water this year to water their crops. Along the Wasatch Front - Nephi to Logan - they did hurt for water this year."
The summer wildfires have also been a concern. Lee Knight, a beekeeper in Lehi, says bees depend on rabbitbrush for pollen in the fall, and many acres of it have burned. He says bees also forage in places such as ditch banks and on roadsides, and there have been fewer wildflowers because of the dry weather.
"We just harvest the surplus of honey that they don't need to survive through the winter. So, if they don't make a surplus of honey and there's not a lot of moisture out there to keep nectar in a flower that's a good honey-producing flower, it's hard to make much honey."
Not all the challenges are weather-related. Knight says beekeeping is a growing hobby in Utah, but some cities are passing ordinances to restrict where hives can be kept. If more people understood the importance of bees in the food chain, Knight says, they might reconsider.
"A lot of our backyard beekeepers are getting into it to help the population of bees in their area, because they're not getting their raspberries pollinated or their peaches or their apricots in the springtime, and throughout the summer in their gardens. That's a concern to me."
Stoddard says the best way to support local beekeepers is to buy local honey, although he notes a sweet dilemma: Americans eat so much honey - 1.3 pounds per person, per year - that U.S. beekeepers cannot meet the demand.