bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Annual almond conundrum

The shortage of bees for almond pollination in California seems to be becoming an annual story. Estimates indivcate that about one million colonies are needed and half of the bees needed for pollination have to be sourced out of state. The state's $1.189 billion almond crop is entirely dependent on honeybee pollination.
“A lot of guys are out hustling and looking for hives right now that should have been doing it sooner. I heard back in October that a bee shortage would happen next season,” Marsh said. “... The bee guys have some leverage to bring their prices up on the bees. The price of hives has basically doubled.”

... The average price to rent a hive for pollination for almost five weeks in 2003 was about $45 per hive, and during the 2004 pollination season, the average cost was about $48 per hive. To rent a hive for the 2005 season, the price is expected to reach $75 to $85 per hive.
The shortages seem mainly due to a failure to control varroa.
“We went through Apistan and now we are basically getting to the tail end of CheckMite+ where most people say, ‘I put the strips in the hive and nothing happened,’” Mussen said. “Now we have a serious problem because there is no third magic bullet. Mite numbers are just growing and growing.”



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