How are your bees?

Most of the commercial beekeepers in the Midwest move their colonies to southern locations for the winter, primarily to California for the pollination of almonds. I get to go where the bees go.  I spent the last couple of weeks sampling beekeeper sin the San Joaquin valley in California. Beekeepers from across the nation truck bees to California to place them in the almond orchards. Just driving around, you can see all sorts of bee trucks. Most often, the truck drivers will unload in holding yards or staging yards where the colonies will wait until placement in the almond orchards.

This hive is on the upper scale for strength. You can tell it is booming because the  bees cover the bottom of the frames.

This hive is on the upper scale for strength. You can tell it is booming because the bees cover the bottom of the frames.

I attended meetings held by the South Valley Bee Club and the Dale Bee Club and talked to beekeepers about how their bees were doing, listened to the talks, and heard them talk to each other.  One of the most common questions beekeepers ask other beekeepers is ‘how are your bees?’ This year, the answer for many beekeepers has been not so great. Many beekeepers have been talking about losses in their own operations or in the operations of beekeepers they know., or how there is a shortage for colonies for pollination of the almond trees. Some talk about a 90% loss or more. It is heartbreaking. It will be a couple weeks yet before we really hear the full scale of what colony loses will be this year, but it is definitely going to be higher than last year.

This a a holding yard where a beekeeper stores colonies before moving them into almonds.

This a a holding yard where a beekeeper stores colonies before moving them into almonds.

Written By: Katie Lee

Katie Lee has written 54 post in this blog.

I'm a part of the Midwest Bee Team based out of the University of Minnesota. I work with commercial migratory beekeepers in North Dakota and Minnesota to help them monitor pest and disease levels. Before I was on the Midwest Team, I was on the CA Bee Team working for the Northern California bee breeders. I was introduced to honey bees during my last semester as an undergrad when I took a class on social insects with Dr. Marla Spivak. Marla asked me to work in the U of MN Bee Lab over the summer, and have been enthralled with bees ever since. My main interests are bee breeding, Varroa, disease ecology, and extension work. I received both a BS in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior and a MS in Entomology from the University of Minnesota.

  • Alain Villa

    Hello Katie

    I was reading and liking very much your page, thank you for sharing. I am going to start finally with a friend and we really want to keep as free as we can be. I read a lot about going back to 4.9 cells even if is a little more work to do in the start but I guess it will give results after few generations of resistant bees.

    I will be very happy to follow for work.

    Best Regards

    Alain