USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) approved the Apiculture Pilot Insurance (API) plan in 2009 to create greater protection for producers of honey, pollen collection, wax, and breeding stock. Most, if not all, entities with an interest in the agricultural production of honey bee colonies are eligible to obtain apiculture rainfall index insurance for their hives.
API is designed to cover the unique precipitation requirements of different regions across the nation. Essentially, this program allows beekeepers to “bet” against the rain using advanced software applications that integrate 60 years of historical weather data. Less rain in the insured region means more money for the beekeeper.
How the program works
Rainfall is recorded by the US government and assigned to geographical grids (17 miles x 17 miles). NOAA collects rainfall measurements at specific weather data collection points across the country.
Beekeepers can participate by locating the geographical grid their apiaries are in using lat/long or GPS coordinates. Then the participant indicates the number of colonies they want insured at that point or apiary, and then choose the type of coverage level.
Pay-in and pay-out structure
Just like all other crop insurance programs, USDA subsidizes the producer premium, so a program participant pays only about half the total premium needed to provide sufficient actuarial reserves to pay claims. Participants do not carry all the premium liability.
The program is designed to payout participants two times their potential liabilities in indemnities. For every dollar put into the program, beekeepers get two dollars back. To participate in the program, you must follow the record retention requirements (i.e. record number of managed hives annually) and have permission from the landowner to place hives in the insured grid.
Crop insurance for beekeeping operations was expanded to 19 more states in 2018, now covering the entire lower 48 states. Take a look at the historical payouts below: