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Beekeeper Newsletter – June 5, 2002

2002 Almond Crop
The May crop estimate is for a record 940 million lb almond crop on a record 530,000 bearing acres (and a record per-acre yield). We won’t know the exact figures ’til much later. Almond prices have remained stable in spite of the record crop, in good part because ”the pipeline was empty” and because the almond industry has done an excellent job of marketing. Almond growers are generally happy with the current picture.

2003 Almond Season
We won’t know how our price increase will affect our volume until later this year. Also, we plan to drop 1 or more slow-pay (or no-pay) growers. We are optimistic about maintaining or increasing volume since some younger orchards under long-term contract will use more bees next year.

None of our beekeepers cancelled their agreement with us by the June 1 deadline. We appreciate your confidence in us and will continue to make every effort to ensure that confidence is deserved.

2003 Almond Pollination Starts Now
Almond pollination may be the last thing on your mind right now, but planning for almonds is a year-round endeavor. Colony strength in February is directly related to colony strength the previous fall. Start thinking about how you will get high populations of young, fat bees going into winter. Bears fatten up in the fall in order to survive the winter. Bees need your help to put on winter fat.

Early Bloomers & Global Warming
A recent study reports that 385 British species bloom 4-1/2 to 15 days earlier than 40 years ago. Add almonds to that list.

Fall Feeding
The enclosed newsletter from Eric Mussen discusses problems beekeepers incurred this year. Similar problems occur every year – the late almond bloom and an extremely cold January magnified the problem this year. Efforts must be expended in order to enter winter with young, fat bees. Many beekeepers stimulate-feed in January, but feeding old, skinny bees doesn’t always cut it. Consider a feed program in October.

In his June-July newsletter of 1982, Eric published the following excerpt from Dr. Christine Peng’s feeding studies:

FEED TREATMENT vs EXTRA BEES IN MAY
Treatment

Feeding Period

Lbs extra bees in May
Control

-

None
Pollen supplement*

Oct. to Jan.

6.5
Pollen supplement*

Jan. to Apr.

0.6

*1/3 lb every 2 weeks; 5% pollen, 37% Torutein (yeast) and 58% partially inverted (Type 50) sugar syrup by weight.

Extra bees in February weren’t reported but were undoubtedly higher with Oct.-Jan. feeding vs. Jan.-Apr. feeding.

So you say you don’t want strong colonies in January (because they consume too much honey); consider that 6 extra lbs of bees in May will make far more honey than that consumed in January-February. This was brought home (again) this year during orange bloom: strong almond bees made 1 to 3 supers of honey; weak almond bees made none.

Norm Cary (559)562-0300, can supply pollen patties for October (and January) feeding with payment not due until March (we will deduct the cost from your almond pollination check). Give Norm plenty of advance notice if you want October patties. (Ask Norm about sample bottles for tracheal-nosema tests).

Note: some beekeepers have had good luck using pollen from Stephen Stakich (248)642-7023; 1155 Vaughn Rd., Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304. $1.75/lb. in pellet form but makes good paste when mixed with syrup. Stephen doesn’t irradiate his pollen, but he says there have been no problems with chalk brood (or AFB).

No Excuses
With our higher 2003 pollination prices, our (your) bees will be coming under closer scrutiny. Growers will pay close attention to colony strength in 2003. So will we. Current long-range forecasts are for a wet Jan.-Feb., 2003 making colony strength more important than ever for the almond grower.

There is no excuse for excessive substandard colonies and you will (again) be docked accordingly. Beekeepers that have been with us and have done a good job get preferential treatment in terms of number of colonies placed. If you don’t think your colonies can withstand the increased scrutiny planned for 2003, we are extending the deadline for cancelling your current agreement until July 15. If you don’t cancel by then, we will notify you of the number of colonies needed for 2003 by October 30, 2002.

The Book
The enclosed book Honey – The Gourmet Medicine contains order forms inside the back cover that you can pass on to interested parties. In addition to the “Special offer”, beekeepers who order 10 or more copies (to one address) get them for $5.00 each + $10 (total) shipping. I have copies in Bakersfield; stop by and save shipping costs. If you order from BookMasters, let me know how the service and delivery was.

If you sell honey at farmer’s markets, etc., consider selling this book. If you want to be a Distributor in your area, contact me for an even lower price.

A California guru (a robed, bearded man living in the hills of Hollywood) recently intoned that ”Placing The Book of Honey in health food stores, in doctors’ offices and in chiropractors’ offices will result in a demand for honey that beekeepers can only imagine.”

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. Virtually every ag commodity now promotes the health and nutritional benefits of their product. Such promotion is not new; it was done over 80 years ago for another California ag product with mixed results. (see enclosed essay by William Saroyan).

Beekeeper Lament
Into each life,
A little rain must fall.
Why can’t it fall into mine?

Anonymous, 1904

Bee Biz
The magazine Bee Biz is aimed at “professional beekeepers” (as opposed to hobbyists). It is an excellent publication containing reports from around the world that don’t always make it into American publications. Subscriptions are $23 for the next 3 issues; $44 for the next 6. Send check to Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, 610 Bethany Church Rd., Moravian Falls, NC 28654.

Take a Break in August
Take a break from extracting all that honey. Or, if you don’t have honey to extract, extract yourself from negative thoughts and head for the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) meeting at Lake Tahoe, August 12-15; program enclosed. I’m staying at South Lake Tahoe (about 45 min. from the meeting site) where there are numerous scenic hiking trails. If you’re interested in hiking before or after the meeting, give me a call at (530)577-2330.

And The Winners Are . . . . . .
The chimpanzee, the chicken, the honey bee, the sea urchin, Tetrahymena (a yeast-like protozoan) and a family of fungi.

These 6 “model organisms” were recently selected by the National Institute of Health to have their entire genetic code (genome) studied and spelled out. This could lay the foundation for significant genetic improvements in the honey bee. Some scientists are eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the “language gene” in the honey bee (a “Waggle Dance Celebration” is planned).

Post-It Note
“Beeswax is a chemical sponge. Beekeepers in some areas of the country have found that when the brood combs, especially, reach a certain level of chemical load the queen simply will not lay eggs in that comb or cell.”

Jerry Hayes, June 2002, ABJ, p.403

Stay in Touch
Let us know how things are going, or call our toll-free number anytime for an update on things out here.

Joe Traynor

SCIENTIFIC AG CO.
P.O. Box 2144
Bakersfield, CA 93303

Toll-free number: (877) 356-5846
Office Located at:
1734 D Street, Suite #2
Bakersfield, California
24 Hr. Phone (661) 327-2631