Almond Grower Newsletter – May 1, 2015

2016 Almond Pollination Enclosed is our 2016 Price Schedule showing a $15/colony increase over 2015 prices. Your current agreement with us remains in effect for 2016 unless cancelled by you by July 1st. Please fill out and return the enclosed form to us so that our bee suppliers can make plans for their 2016 almond bees.

The continued well-publicized problems plaguing bees makes it increasingly difficult for beekeepers to come up with strong colonies in the middle of winter, when almonds bloom. In his Jan/Feb 2010 Newsletter From the UC Apiaries, UC Extension Apiculturist, Eric Mussen calculated that it costs beekeepers $200/colony to provide 8-frame bees to almond growers and over $220 to provide 10-frame colonies. In order to meet our standards, our beekeepers must cull out up to 50% if their colonies. Many of them are able to rent out their weaker colonies on other contracts (and we encourage them to do so) so that we are able to supply you with the strong colonies that you have come to expect from us.

To survive today, many beekeepers feel they must rent 100% of their colonies to almond growers. For many, it is a no-brainer to accept a lower price for 100% of their colonies rather than a higher price for 50% of them. The increasing demand for almond bees makes it easier for any beekeeper to rent 100% of his/her bees.

There is no question that almond growers face the same pressures to cut costs in order to survive. Cutting back on colonies per acre makes more economic sense that renting weaker colonies at a cheaper price. One of our growers has cut back to ½ colony/acre for the past 3 years and is still cranking out good yields.

5 Ted Talks on Honey Bees Google this title to hear/see the talks – 3 of them by individuals that are highly respected by bee people: John Miller, Marla Spivak and Dennis vanEngelsdorp – the latter 2 are PhDs – Miller is a cum laude graduate from The School of Hard Knocks and is also the protagonist of the best-selling book The Beekeeper’s Lament.

New Almond-Bee Book Stephanie Hsia has just published a great little book The Almond and The Bee. We have ordered some and will mail you a copy once we receive the enclosed order form (even if you cancel our agreement). For others, google the author, title + Blurb. The cost is $9, with $2/book going to bee research.

“The Time it Never Rained” Elmer Kelton is the author of this great book about a multi-year drought in Texas. Let’s hope such a book won’t ever need to be written about California.

Stepping Stones (to the Big Bucks): “Congress is a stepping stone to lobbying. You are considered naïve if you are not currying favor with wealthy corporations.” The Week, 5/1/15.

New Candidate for President Speaks Out: “I will place education and enlightenment at the top of every agenda, and the elimination of ignorance as my worthy goal. Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to violence.” No, not from Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Hillary, or other worthies, but from Michael Moore. The Nation, 4/6/15.

That Sounds About Right: “Portion of Americans who think it is safe to eat genetically modified foods: 2/5. Of U.S. Scientists who do: 9/10. Harper’s Index, May 2015.

New Salutation: “How’s your Microbiome?!” Check out Microbiome Ted Talk.

Old Salutation: Best wishes for a bountiful almond crop, and ample water in the future.

Joe Traynor