Friday, February 27, 2015

By the time I get back on the road again, it's dark.  I've traveled this route so many times though that it's second nature to me.  I pass flatbed, after flatbed carrying stacks of beehives, no doubt brought in to pollinate the large number of almond orchards we have here.

California has 800,000 acres of almonds and it's our #1 valued nut crop with cash receipts nearing $4 billion.  Typically in February, over 1.5 million hives are trucked in to pollinate the almond blossoms.  The majority of these hives travel long distances as only 1/3 are from California. 

Image result for bee hives almond orchard picPerhaps you have heard that bee colonies have been under tremendous stress as of late with some estimates citing 10 million hives having been wiped out.  I've seen it publicized that it now takes 60% of the country's supply of bees to pollinate just California's almond crop.  I'm uncertain as to the validity of those numbers, but coming from a bee hobbyist family, it is an absolute certainty that the bees require more intervention than they ever did before.

Image result for almond flower with bee pic
A number of issues are at play. The drought has plagued many areas of the country decreasing wildflower populations.  Pollen supplies are thus reduced leading to bee malnutrition and starvation.   The second reason for bee shortages is the varroa mite.   The mite is a reddish brown parasite which feeds on immature as well as adult bees.  It bores in, sucking the circulatory system fluid from the bee's body causing death.  There are many other reasons but bee keepers site these as the top two.

Buellton, CA

Atascadero, CA

Boy am I getting tired.  It's tempting to make camp right here at the supercharger but I'm not that far from home, so I unplug and keep plugging along...

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