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Beekeeper Newsletter – April 11, 2003

2004 Season

Almonds are faring better than almost all other ag commodities. Almond prices remain firm in spite of a record crop last year and a very good crop this year. That almond growers have been able to maintain prices with ever increasing crops is due in large part to the efforts of the Almond Board. The Almond Board is currently putting major emphasis on the health benefits of almonds.

Raisin and wine grape growers in California are losing money – many left the 2002 crop on the vines because commodity prices could not cover harvest costs. A number of vineyards are being pulled out – some will be replanted to almonds, so look for almond acreage to continue to increase.

Formic Acid (from April ABJ, pp. 278, 279)

Formic acid gives excellent tracheal mite control and some varroa control. It is still not registered in the U.S., but is used extensively in Canada. Highly absorbant MiteGone pads are used in Canada and can be used to apply other liquids (e.g., liquid menthol and some essential oils). These pads can be obtained from MiteGone Enterprises, 2910 Glenmore Rd. North, Kelowna, BC, Canada VIV 2B6.
Note: Spring, not fall is the best time to treat for tracheal mites.

Mites (continued)

“lnfestation by tracheal mites dramatically compounds the impact of Varroa.” Mark Winston – Bee Culture, December 2002, p. 22.

Doing the Math

China exports 2.2 billion pounds of honey from 60 million colonies (Bee World, 2002, 83:190).

U.S. honey production is around 200 million lbs a year (171 million in 2002).

The U.S. honey market is about 400 million lbs. (0.4 billion lbs.). About half is imported.

A modest 600% (6-fold) increase in U.S. honey consumption would take care of most or all of China’s exported honey.

Tax breaks for the wealthy (more Math)

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mark 12:41-44)

from Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker, January 20, 2003

On the Health Front
from Hort Technology, April-June 2003, pp 252-258

In recent years, surveys suggest nearly two-thirds of grocery shoppers purchase food specifically to reduce the risk of, or manage a specific health condition. Evidence abounds that consumers, including Baby Boomers, choose foods for specific health benefits. The statement attributed to Hippocrates: “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” certainly applies to today’s emphasis on functional foods.

Drug companies spend $7 billion annually for drug representatives to tout their wares to doctors (see enclosed reprint). Drug advertising amounts to billions more.

Why not place some literature on the health benefits of honey in doctor’s hands and in their waiting rooms in your area? The Honey Board has a number of reprints and brochures that could be used (call 303-776-2337). We have access to a great little book (Honey – The Gourmet Medicine) that we can sell you at cost for this purpose.

The Herb industry has exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry in recent years (check out the prices of herbal supplements at your local drugstore). Honey could be considered a herbal supplement.

Moving Cheese (and avocados, and honey)

Professor Michael Reid, U.C., Davis, believes that if ag produce was graded to a minimum standard, that high-standard produce would command and get a premium price. The wine industry has done this, as has the coffee industry. Premium cheese sells for $l0-$20/lb. For avocados, Reid suggests having 3 bins at the store, for 99¢, $1.99, and $2.99 – the $2.99 fruit would be guaranteed to be perfect or your money back.

As has been suggested by others, the honey industry could do the same. It would be difficult for China to import Montana clover or California orange or sage honey. Too difficult to get a premium price for a premium product in a tough market? Well, you’re already doing it in almond pollination.

Money Talks

The main reason for the high prices you’re enjoying for your honey are due to the anti-dumping efforts of a dedicated group of beekeepers in the AHPA. The legal costs of these efforts are considerable (as outlined in the current issues of Bee Culture and ABJ). If you haven’t yet made a 2002 contribution to the Anti-Dumping Fund, do so now – suggested contributions are 1¢/lb of 2002 crop or $1/hive. Send checks to Karen Tubbs, AHPA Treasurer, Box 3, Webb, MS 38966.

If you support the Honey Board, include a note with your check that you’ll send another check (equal amount) if the AHPA drops its efforts to do away with the current Honey Board.

Citrus meetings

Wednesday, April 30, 2-2:30 PM. Mandarins in the San Joaguin Valley. Dr. Thomas Chao, U.C., Riverside. Farm Advisor office,
1031 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., Bakersfield, CA.

Thursday, May 1, 10-11 AM. How to tell citrus thrips from flower thrips. Dr. Beth Grafton, U.C. Kearney Station. Lindcove Field Station (east of Visalia).

Looking ahead

Planning for 2004 almond pollination starts now. Late summer and early fall are critical times for getting high populations of young bees to go into winter. Moving a few hundred miles to a good fall location can easily pay for itself with less winter cull-outs. If you don’t have fall locations options, put enough money aside for a supplemental feeding program in the fall.

Stay in touch
Call us at our toll-free numbers anytime to let us know how things are going this year.

Best wishes for a bountiful honey crop.

- Joe Traynor

SCIENTIFIC AG CO.
OFFICE: 1734 D STREET, SUITE #2
MAILING: P.0. BOX 2144
BAKERSFIELD, CA 93303
(661) 327-2631
Toll Free: (877) 356-5846 & 896-5846