California has been termed the Golden State for a variety of reasons, namely, that epic 19th Century Gold Rush and the glorious fields of golden poppies that hold court come springtime. Here’s another — our bone-dry hills and fields, sapped of water and suffering through one of the worst droughts in recent history.

I don’t have to tell you how serious this drought problem is, and how big of a deal it is for our agricultural interests, our farming community, and our state as a whole. You already know that (and if you don’t, read up. And enough with the 10-minute showers, dammit!). But a recent report from KQED reminded me just how much the drought is affecting all of our food sources, from produce to livestock to dairy production to the focus of their findings: honey.

Yes, our Golden State is seeing a dearth of the most glorious liquid gold of all. Thanks to the drought, there are far fewer wildflowers than usual. This means that bees are going hungry, and beekeepers are forced to feed their hives artificial nectar as well as additional protein supplements. Even these efforts aren’t enough — KQED notes that Central Valley beekeeper David Bradshaw is producing about a tenth of his usual honey output, and has had to ship some of his hives to Kansas, where the bees can be adequately fed.

In addition to being a dire reminder of how far reaching this long, hot summer will be (this has been California's hottest year on record), I’m specifically bummed about the sharp decline in local honey. In addition to being tasty, local honey is good for you — it can help lessen allergies, is a great source of antioxidants, and is hands-down one of the better sweeteners out there. Supply is now down, prices are up, and the bees are still struggling.

It’s something to keep in mind during these long summer days. In the heat of the June sun, we’re seeing yet another gold rush run dry. 

[Via KQED Science, image from Thinkstock]

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