Now that nervous # 2 is basically here and everyone involved is either ready or not I am going to "officially" post My #3.
I have hinted at this for a good while already but a call I received yesterday threw me over the cliff.
#3 has to do with queen and package production out of California for 2014.
The drought in California is seriously bad in relationship to bee health. Bad enough currently and with little hope of recovery I am to the point where I doubt we can bypass our usual attempts to defeat feed deficiencies especially in relationship to the process of raising queens and secondarily in the production of packages.
Not sure how we are going to get around the direness of what faces us. If we can even raise the queens a lot of bees will be looking for a home a long ways away from this dry H$ll hole once spring is in the rear view mirror for 2014.
Yesterday afternoon I took a call from a "neighbor" who runs 10k plus ( not giving the real number as it would let everyone know who it was) In my thirty years of bees he has only called about 5 times. Of that at least 4 were when things were what I would say "looking bleak." Back in 06 or 07 on the big die off he called with near tears in his voice from the way the bees were looking. He runs a tight ship and one of a few who has made a ton of money at this gig. The big money also comes with a bigger heartache when the reality of a BAD situation is unavoidable. Not a whole lot of options out there. Here are some he was considering and doing so on a hope and a prayer without much expectation of doing well with queen production this spring.
1. He has never had an out of state outfit although years back I know he did do some "share crop" He asked what I thought about him buying one of the huge out of state outfits that are currently for sale. It was priced high ( in the millions) and would add another 25% to his hive totals. I told him I thought that 20% of the purchase price would be saved in feed costs this year alone. Personally I think anyone with the money in hand is dumb if they don't bail.
2, He told me he had already Pre-written a payment for syrup past the 200k dollar amount in anticipation of spring syrup needs. This is an insane amount of syrup folks. Anyone who pays that much up front know that the bees are going to be sitting with their welfare paperwork already pre filled out once the almonds are finished.
He agreed with my assessment that packages that are "late" on the calendar treadmill are highly susceptible to being cancelled.
Queen production is going to have a high probability of failure and the ones that do make it out might not be of "superior" quality.
If there ever was and issue that I wish you all knew I was insanely wrong on I hope this is one of them.
We opened up for orders today on packages and as everyone else seems to have done we have jumped the price a VERY high %. Biggest in my 30+ YEARS.....
It is my guess that the real affect of the queen and package production out of California is the fact that the price is bound to rise as time progresses into the season. Look for $30 queens and $140 packages( retail) by the time April rolls around. Phil