If you know much about bees, there is no denying that weather conditions can have a negative impact on hive strength, hive products and honey production.

One risk management option that beekeepers should be aware of to help manage increased costs and reduced hive revenue is the Apiculture-Rainfall Index (Apiculture-RI) crop insurance program offered by the USDA Risk Management Agency.

The Apiculture – RI policy is an area-based insurance plan offered in all 48 contiguous states. The program insures against a single peril: lack of precipitation. It should be noted however that the program is not “drought insurance” and does not insure against abnormally “high temperatures” or “windy conditions.” While a drought may cause a decline in the index value to the point that an indemnity payment is issued to eligible insured producers, a drought being declared in a state, county or area does not, by itself, trigger an indemnity payment under the program.

Q: Who is this program designed for? Medium sized to large or commercial beekeepers who depend on hive strength (pollination) or hive products as business income. The area-based nature of this plan means that losses are not adjusted on an individual producer basis. Instead, if the 17 x 17-mile grid in which your colonies are located doesn’t get enough rainfall during a specified two-month interval, you will be paid an indemnity, regardless of your actual loss or lack thereof. Producers do not need to submit a loss claim or notify their agents. RMA calculates any loss, and your insurance company processes any indemnity due.  Losses are calculated based on whether the current year’s precipitation in a grid has deviated from normal compared to the historical normal precipitation in the same grid, for the same period.

You may select coverage levels from 70-90% and productivity factors from 60 to 150% of the county base value. The lower coverage levels result in less frequent/lower indemnities and lower premiums. As a federal crop insurance program, subsidies ranging from 51%-59% also apply.

Q: Who decides whether I got enough rainfall? RMA uses National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center data to calculate normal precipitation and deviations from normal precipitation. It is important to understand that precipitation is INTERPOLATED TO THE GRID, not measured within the grid. When the interpolated precipitation falls below average for the index interval, it triggers a loss payment to all insureds who have signed up for the program in the grid that are covered under this interval.

Q: What do I have to do as a producer? We highly suggest contacting us so we can help you determine which intervals to choose to optimize your protection. Selecting index intervals is a critical component of these policies and the result of your selections will directly correspond to your satisfaction with the product. Our decision support technology will allow us to see which index intervals make the most sense for your grid, and what percentage of your colonies to insure in each based on historical data.

Q: When can I sign up for this program? The sales closing date for Apiculture-RI is December 1. The insurance period runs from January 1 – December 31 and premium will not be due until September of that year.

We can also help with other bee related insurance needs such as farm property and commercial liability insurance. Give us a call and we can help you decide which option(s) are right for your operation.