2002 Almonds and current situation
The number of Colonies we will need from you as of this date is given above. If it looks like you will be unable to bring this number, please notify us right away. There is an ample bee supply at this time but it will be harder for us to get replacement bees in December and January.
The enclosed article is a good summary of the current almond situation. Many growers feel the estimate of this year’s crop is too high and that price will increase once the final tally is in.
The economic life of an almond orchard is 20 to 25 years. There are at least 150,000 acres over 20 years old (one report puts the figure at 166,000 acres). Some of our growers have already pulled out their older orchards, others are waiting to see if the price of almonds rebounds. Some beekeepers (not with us) will be surprised when they find that almond pollination they had counted on is gone because the orchard is gone. Notify your beekeeper friends to make sure they have an almond home for their bees. Being left out in the cold at the last minute leads to price-cutting.
As you are probably aware, prices for almost all farm commodities are below the break-even point. Some of our almond clients also farm cotton and will be in the red with low cotton prices. With the current tough times, our pooling arrangement safeguards you from incurring a major loss. We hope to maintain our record of 100% payments in recent years but this may not be realistic in today’s climate.
In my opinion, winter losses to trachael mites are (still) the biggest reason for sub-standard bee colonies for almonds. Menthol crystal work better than menthol balls (due to a much greater surface area) but menthol only works at 65-75ºF. Formic acid gel paks are very effective and may be available this spring.
Trachael losses are greater in colder climates and Dr. Nasr (see next page) reduced trachael losses in Canada with resistant stock. Some queen breeders are actively pursuing resistance. Question your queen supplier closely on what he is doing for trachael resistance. Selection pressure for resistance is less in warm climates.
We will continue to protect our almond growers by docking for substandard colonies and will be testing random samples for trachael. Jan Dormaier (509) 639-2577 tests for trachael & nosema.
Coumaphos strips work great for varroa control. Some beekeepers feel that leaving the strips on during cool weather can cause bee losses when bees cluster around the strip – other beekeepers don’t feel this is a concern. Because of the effectiveness of the strips, leaving them in longer than the recommended 45 days gives no advantage; a big potential downside is that the extended time increases the chances of developing resistant mites.
It is possible that strips used ”only” 45 days can be re-used by putting them in Zip-loc bags and storing them in the freezer.
Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs)
AHBs are established in Imperial and San Diego counties. Most beekeepers make it a point to kill off any colony that shows abnormal aggression (a standard practice for many before AHBs) A number of chemicals can be used for a quick field kill; unfortunately, most of them are illegal: sodium cyanide, EDB, sulfur. One beekeeper uses pyrethroid flea “bombs” with good results. Whatever is used, make sure you don’t contaminate frames.
Almond growers don’t want mean colonies on their ranches – neither do we.
Giving back (and a past-due payment)
In May, we donated $10,000 to the CSBA research fund to help solve current problems. The CSBA funds projects throughout the U.S. and the world. This research donation is possible because our business has been successful in past years. It has been successful due to the efforts of beekeepers. I feel fortunate to be in a position to return something to the bee industry.
This donation comes out of our (my) pocket, not from the 50¢/colony set-aside to pay bad debts, etc. We had 100% collections this year (the first in recent years) and as a result are able to use the 50¢/col. set-aside to pay off the $1.00/colony owed on the $32 pool for 1993. For those in this pool, a check is enclosed (The $30 pool for 1993 – south of Sandrini Road – was paid in full).
Where are they now?
We are holding 1993 payment checks for 6 beekeepers whose addresses no longer work. If you have the addresses (or phone numbers) for the following beekeepers, please let us know, or have them contact us.
Sanad Abdullah CA
Lee Bouchez CA
Duane Fraase ND
Estate of Nard Miller CO
Estate of Jerry Strong CA
Kurt Ware CA
As in the past, Norm Cary can supply pollen patties and we can deduct the cost from your 1st almond check. Contact Norm at (559) 562-0300.
Pat Heitkam (530) 865-9562 sells both Brewers yeast and Bee Pol (dry mixes). One beekeeper buys Brewers yeast from Pat and mixes it with C & H Bakers Specialty (finely ground) sugar (25# each) + tylosin and 4# of mineral salts (from vet store); he puts it on paper on the top bars and moisture from the colony turns the mixture into a patty-like material.
Bee-Pro from Mann Lake is also a good feed. Dale Bower (218) 945-6898 sells an amino acid mix used by some when grafting queens (Brewers yeast also contains amino acids).
Canada opens border
Dr. Medhat Nasr, formerly with the Guelph University (Canada) is now extension apiculturist at Rutgers University (NJ). I’ve attended several bee meetings where Dr. Nasr spoke (mainly on mites) and have been impressed by both the depth and breadth of his knowledge. Although Dr. Nasr’s work was available to us from Canada, we are fortunate to have him here in the U.S.
GM crops and AFB
Most beekeepers are aware that Terramycin (aka oxytetracycline) no longer gives good control of American Foulbrood in many areas. This resistance started about the same time that genetically modified crops came out. Some think there is a connection. Tetracycline resistant genes were introduced into the first GM crops along with Roundup-Ready genes (according to Dr. Nasr, more recent GM crops don’t have this resistant gene). Resistant AFB seems to be more common where GM canola and soybeans were first introduced.
Canola: honey bad, pollen good?
Beekeepers who have had bees on Canola remark on how quickly the honey granulates (possibly due to a high glucose:fructose ratio). On the other hand, canola pollen is felt to provide excellent bee nutrition (possibly from a high lipid content). The current Bee World has an excellent article on canola pollination: 82(3):115-129.
The Power of Promotion
|Commodity||1983 sales||2000 sales|
|U.S. Honey||$200 million||$200 million|
|Gatorade||$ 85 million||$2.1 billion|
Gatorade is essentially sugar-water (check the label) with a bit of sodium and potassium thrown in for “electrolyte balance”.
Beekeeper – heal thyself
The International Bee Research Assn. (IBRA) recently published Honey and Healing, an authorative 50 page book on the medicinal benefits of honey. The book includes 2 of Peter Molan’s classic Bee World reviews on the subject. Cost is $10; quantity discounts available for IBRA members (order extras for a doctor friend?). Contact the IBRA at 18 North Rd. Cardiff CF10 3DT, UK. Phone: +44(0)29 30 372409 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or see their website at www.ibra.org.uk.
Almost all the studies on the medicinal benefits of honey have been done outside the U.S. Why not some U.S. studies? The National Institute of Health (NIH) is currently spending $14 million to review the effectiveness of glucosamine as a treatment for arthritis. Why not lobby for $140 million to review the effectiveness of honey on a myriad of medical problems?
CA Beekeepers (CSBA) – Nov. 13-15, Sacramento
U.S. Honey Producers – Jan. 8-12, Phoenix, AZ
Amer. Bee Federation – Jan. 16-19, Savannah, GA
The Honey Producers (and maybe the ABF) will have a fire-ant panel (that includes Regulators).
Experts at these meetings can answer specific questions and exchanges with other beekeepers can be illuminating. Much of the information in our newsletters comes from beekeepers.
Communication and phone #s
Communication is critical for almond pollination. We have dropped beekeepers (and growers) solely because we haven’t been able to reach them when needed. We have 2 toll-free #s (see 1st page). If one’s busy, call the other. From Feb. 1-20 I’ll be at the office 24/7. If not, my car phone is (661) 809-2348, home is (661) 871-8938.
Go back in time to mid-eastern countries 70 years ago. Hardscrabble desert land and poor economies prevailed. Then American know-how showed the locals how to extract black gold from the land, flooding these countries with untold wealth. Leaders of these countries were then faced with several choices on how to spend their new-found billions:
Squander it on palaces and trips to the pleasure centers of the world – Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, etc. – the choice of many.
Build up stockpiles of military and biological weapons at the expense of the welfare of your people – Saddam’s choice.
Kill Americans – Osama’s choice
Spend on the education and welfare of your people and have-nots in adjacent countries.
To their credit, some potentates chose the last – maybe they took the time to ask the critical question: WWMD?
As many have pointed out, the recent events have banded our country together to an extent not seen since WWII. Some hardy patriots have even gone so far as to take their hands out of Uncle Sam’s pocket by refusing to accept government assistance.
Enclosed is your 1099 form for 2001. You will notice that this form is 50% larger than previous forms. Our government, in its ”ongoing quest to reduce the burden of paperwork” has taken a significant step backwards. The extra paper devoted to these forms means thousand of trees cut down, more filing cabinets and more office space to store the extra paper. Also, the new forms cannot be easily stuffed in a standard window envelope, thereby increasing labor costs. What a waste!
On the plus side, its nice to live in a country where one can criticize the government with absolutely no fear of reprisal.
Gotta go! – someone’s knocking on my door.
SCIENTIFIC AG CO.
Use the latter # after Jan. 15.
OFFICE: 1734 D Street, Suite #2
MAILING: P.O. Box 2144
Bakersfield, CA 93303