Please see the LINK below to an account of the devastating collapse of over 2,000 bee colonies in California.
The eye-witness account was provided to me by the bee-farmer in question, who arrived in California with 3,150 healthy hives on November 1st 2012. All of the hives were examined and 'passed' as fit for the Almond Pollination - which takes place in February (right now). The inspection is critical, since each healthy hive receives a pollination fee of up to $200 and the almond-growers will not pay for anything that is less than healthy.
The bee-farmer in question had contracted to supply 3,000 hives at a fee of up to $200 per hive, so conceivaby he stood to earn $600,000 for one month's work pollinating almonds. He has already lost 2/3rds of that planned income.
More than 2,000 of his colonies died while waiting for the almond pollination to start. They did not die as a result of pesticides they encountered in the California winter (November/ December). Rather they died because of the systemic neonicotinoid insecticides, and other pesticides they had been exposed to back in the Midwest, from May to September, among the pesticide-treated crops of soybeans, corn and other crops.
The article can be downloaded from Google Docs here:
Having possibly lost $400,000 worth of bees, and an additional loss of pollination income - for the same amount $400,000 - it is questionable whether his business can ever recover. There may be hundreds of other American bee-farmers suffering a similar fate this season, since, according to USDA, more than 240 million acres of American crops were treated with systemic neonicotinids in 2012. Of that - around 92 million acres of GM corn were treated with clothianidin, as well as being blasted with roundup and fungicides.
Many of the 1.5 million hives brought to California from all over America for the almond plination will have been exposed to the same hyper-toxic, bee killing pesticides. So this year may prove to be a watershed both for bee-farmers and for the almond industry - as many people have already commented.