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Beekeeper Newsletter – May 22, 2004

2005 Almond Pollination
You are scheduled to receive $5.00 per colony more for 2005 almond pollination over 2004. We don’t anticipate a shortage of bees next year for several reasons: many beekeepers are increasing colony numbers, winter (and fire) losses should be less, fogger treatment should better control mites, almond acreage won’t increase significantly and almond growers may cut back on bees.

This year proved that almond growers are using too many bee colonies. The 2004 almond crop is estimated at 1.1 billion pounds, up 1% from last year’s bumper crop. The marginal pollination weather this year proved to some growers that they are using more bee colonies than necessary. If every almond grower cut back on bees by 1/2 col. per acre (and we are recommending this to some of our growers) there would be a surplus of bees for almonds. In spite of the large almond crop, almond prices remain high ($1.50 – $1.70/lb) due to a short crop in Spain and to intensive promotion by the Almond Board. The almond industry has managed to increase per capita consumption of almonds every year in recent years in good part by promoting the health aspects of almonds.

You may have heard of some fancy prices paid for last-minute almond bees this year. This occurs to a certain extent every year and some beekeepers like to play ”the waiting game” to take adavantage of this last-minute market. This is a precarious game to play as last-minute growers do not represent stable, year-in, year-out clients. Once we set our prices (to both growers and beekeepers) by July, each year, we never change them, no matter what the market is in February.

We are your representative to almond growers and are here to assure them that you are fuilfilling your obligation. To date, no beekeeper has cancelled their agreement with us and we are extending the cancellation date to July 1st. If you don’t cancel by July 1, we will notify you by Oct. 30 of the number of colonies needed for 2005.

Legal Assistance
The bee industry is currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on anti-dumping and some beekeepers are questioning whether these costs could be shaved. There is no question that Mike Coursey & Co. have done a superior job on anti-dumping but wouldn’t beekeepers get more bang for their buck if the bee industry hired their own full-time lawyer – one that could be used on all facets of the bee industry? Much legal work (including anti-dumping work) involves filling out forms and could be (and is being) done by paralegals or secretaries. A full-time bee industry lawyer, based in D.C. and staying in modest quarters* could also serve as an industry lobbyist and be a tremendous asset to honey producers.

When the time comes (and it surely will) when all segments of the bee industry are in the same boat, hiring a full-time lawyer-lobbyist should be the #1 priority. Although its doubtful he’d be interested, Danny Weaver would be ideal for such a position; maybe a ”Danny Weaver type”?

*I visited a palatial D.C. law office and my impression is the same as when I visit a palatial Nevada casino (to do probability research): I think I know who’s paying for this.

Fake Formulas Kill Infants
Dozens of infants have died in China in the last year from fake milk formulas. The formula has also been found in Germany and Israel. ”Some babies died within 3 days of being fed the formula while others were hospitalized after parents discovered their children were sick.”
AP report, 4/21/04.

Low-Carb Blues
The current “low-carb” craze has had a devastating effect on U.S. potato growers. Acreage is being slashed and potatoes are being dumped or are rotting in storage. Although honey is a carbohydrate, fortunately it is not generally thought of as such.

Mite Resistance Theory
Mite control chemicals have been found in the wax of 3 (or more) year old combs. In the April ABJ, Dr. Pedro Rodriguez proposes that “these residues would mimic the conditions created by improper utilization of pesticide strips left in the hives beyond the manufacturers recommended period of time and could possibly explain the reason for failure of future treatments with these synthetic pesticides.”

Notable Quotes
“Beekeepers who rent weak or dead colonies of bees tarnish not only their own reputation but also that of other beekeepers.”
Beekeeping Basics, Penn State Ag Extension, 2004

“Its war – old men talk and young men die.”
Brad Pitt as Achilles, in the new movie, “Troy”.

By the Numbers
Amount the NIH is spending to test Glucosamine for arthritis relief . . . . . $14 million
What a honey-health study would cost . . . . . $14 million
U.S. expenses in Iraq for half a day . . . . . $140 million
Number of U.S. congressmen . . . . . 535
Full-time drug industry lobbyists . . . . . 620 – 750
Full-time bee industry lobbyists . . . . . 0
Drug companies windfall from recent Medicare bill . . $ billions
(Medicare recipients must now pay top prices for drugs; your tax dollars at work)

Almond Growers Get It
In a recent vote, 94% of participating almond growers voted to continue their federal marketing program administered by the Almond Board of California.

Research Donation
Last month we (and you) donated $10,000.00 to the research fund of the CA Beekeepers Assn. (CSBA funds research throughout the U.S.)
Make an impression on your fellow beekeepers by donating another 25¢/col. on your own.*

* “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” Mark Twain

Them Fish Been Eatin’ Them Frogs
For a number of years a cloud has hovered over California farmers (including all almond growers): drift of pesticides (esp. herbicides) from the Central Valley to the Sierras has been blamed for the disappearance of high-country frogs. The theory was backed by some evidence from a U.C. Berkeley researcher. A new study (by a different UCB scientist) presents compelling evidence that the introduction of non-native trout into mountain lakes is responsible for the demise of the frogs (the fish feast on newly hatched tadpoles).

Fountain of Youth
Several biological substances show great promise in halting the aging process. Word is that Richard Adee started using these substances 2 years ago (Sorry, Pat).

Killing Time
Have you noticed that as you get older, time goes a lot faster? Cowboy-poet Baxter Black offers these remedies:

* Have a child when you’re 50 years old.
* Injure yourself and be bedridden for 2 months.
* Drive from Rapid City to Bison in a car with 2 cutting horse people or 2 chain smokers.
* Arrive on time for a doctor’s appointment.
* Drink 6 cups of coffee, then attend the Baptist church service.
* Call a plumber as the water level is raising the linoleum floor in your kitchen.
* Take your child’s 3rd grade class to see the Pokemon movie.
* Buy a new pair of boots and go to the dance.

Parting Shot
With honey prices sliding, almond pollination income will make up a larger portion of your total income. Be thinking all year on how you can deliver the best product to almond growers.

Joe Traynor, Mgr.