What is in this article?:
- Research funding essential to keep honey bees abuzz
- New honey bee threat
- Accounting boring - bees fun
- Wanted: more foraging land
- More funding is needed to support expanded research for the U.S. honey bee industry.
- Honey bees pollinate about 140 crops - one out of every three bites of food we consume.
- From the hive destroying varroa mite to a new honey bee pest threat found in Asia, research is critical to keep honey bees - and our food supply - safe from pests, diseases, and other threats.
The reddish-brown varroa mite attached to the foraging honey bee (under right wing) is the most destructive pest of bees in the U.S. Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey.
Accounting boring - bees fun
A third speaker on the honey bee panel was Bret Adee of Adee Honey Farms in Bruce, S.D. He completed college with an accounting degree in 1984 and joined the family’s beekeeping business to crunch numbers. Two years later, he decided accounting was “boring” and moved to the “fun job” - beekeeping.
Today, the third-generation beekeeper is one of the nation’s largest keepers of bees with hives in California, Utah, Washington, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, Mississippi, and Colorado.
Adee is concerned about the total number of hives nationally for crop pollination. While USDA reports about 2.6 million colonies in the U.S., Adee says the figure is only accurate when bees are the healthiest during the summer - not during the almond pollination.
For beekeepers, 20 percent of colonies are lost during the summer, plus a 30 percent loss during overwintering - about 50 percent total. About two hives per acre are used to pollinate California’s 840,000 acres of bearing almonds. That pencils out to about 1.6 million needed colonies – about the same number of the available commercial colonies.
“The (colony) buffer is zero,” Adee said.
So while current colony supply just barely meets current almond pollination demand, another 100,000 acres of non-bearing almond trees will enter commercial production within a decade. This need for more bees is a great concern to the apiculture and almond industries.