bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Not enough bees for California's blooming almonds

There is a bee shortage in California where they are needed to pollinate more than three-quarters of the world's production of almonds. One grower reports the price of a pollinating hive to have risen to $54 from $44 last year.
More than 1 million honey bee hives are needed to pollinate the 530,000 acres of almond groves that line the Central Valley, making up California's $1.189 billion almond industry and producing 80 percent of the world's supply.
Varroa, resistant varroa, droughts and increased almond production have all combined to push up demand for pollinating bees. California has 444,000 resident bee hives, but needs nearly one million to satisfy demand for one of the state's most profitable agricultural exports. Beefarmers from North Dakota, Washington and Colorado make the trip to the Golden State for the blooming almonds in late February and early March each year. About two hives are needed per acre. Said one almond grower: “The beekeepers are in charge now.”


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