Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
Jim:

At what %age overwinter colony loss rate would you estimate that your own operation wouldn't be profitable?

I'm trying to see how far away the hypothetical collapse of U.S. beekeeping might be.
A simple question with a complicated answer. Winter loss is never a very high number in our operation, probably in the neighborhood of 10%. Summer and fall losses due to failed queens or whatever run another 10%. The key to answering your question is what are the condition of the survivors. If I lost half of my hives from spring to spring but the other 1/2 averaged enough bees and brood to split in half I would do just fine, if the survivors were a bunch of dinks then it might be difficult to regain our numbers. Of course if our hives suffered 50% losses then there would be fewer almond bees to ship.
My guess is we will continue to see cyclical problems with supplying the numbers needed for a growing almond industry depending on the season but to suggest that some sort of apocalyptic bee event is on the horizon is just not something I expect. I think the law of supply and demand will take care of the need for pollinators much like we have seen with the worldwide demand for energy. Remember the 1970's and the claims that the world would run out of petroleum by the late 80's. Turns out it wasnt that simple. The price goes up and innovative people figure a way to supply the demand albeit at a higher price and consumers figure a way to reduce their consumption to save money. If needed, the price will go up and the bees will appear. Unfortunately I would expect self pollinating almonds to also become part of the solution and who could blame the growers.