2006 almond pollination scenario - Page 3
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  1. #41
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    Apr 2004
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    Central CA.
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    Mike, things are starting to look up around here... back to normal. I got most of my bees put out in the orchards and didn't get stuck. The growers to expect the bloom to happen next weekend around here (Oakdale, Modesto area). I still have 30 or 40 hives to place but I think I will be filling in behind another beekeeper. I see lots of bees in holding yards around Oakdale and Hughson and higher up in the foothills. I've heard of alot of deadouts. Some beekeepers are coming down on their price and a few have hada cancellations. One of my friends had a 500 hive contract cancelled down by Fresno. I've heard that growers with crop insurance must have receipts for bees or their crop insurance in no good. Jim

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  3. #42
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    Jul 2000
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    NE Calif.
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    Glad to hear that ,Jim.We did sling a bit of mud out on the roads trying to get some in during the rain.The broker we work with thinks supply and demand will be about equal in the end.I hope so,all this talk of an oversupply makes me nervous.
    --Mike

  4. #43
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    Jan 2005
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    Southern Oregon
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    Very interesting comments across the board, Beesource is an incredible asset for our community. A little cooperation goes a long way. Got a call today for a large number of hives from another “beekeeper” who admitted he had snapped up lots of contracts early and planned to fill them with whoever he could book last minute at a lowball price and pocket a fat margin for himself. With every burgeoning blossom the pressure will mount for securing the harvest. There is no doubt that sustaining US beekeeping is pivotal to the security of our food supply and profits for growers. I am confident we can find a way to help each other out.
    JBJ
    PS, It is beginning to appear the over supply rumor is over inflated.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  5. #44
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    Odessa, Missouri
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    629

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    JBJ,

    "PS, It is beginning to appear the over supply rumor is over inflated"

    My job as an author of beekeeping magazine articles is to find the truth. When I agree to write an article I will not "whitewash" a story.

    I agree completely with JBJ. I am on a first name basis with the major players. I know the current numbers of hives they are running and brokering. The almond board has provided very acurate information on numbers of groves needing bees.
    I can easily punch the calculator and see a shortage but:

    There is a gray area. I have not been able to determine from internet information or from the almond board the number of "old growth" trees. Why is this important? Because the old growth tree acre typically take 3 hives instead of 2.

    The next gray area is how many almond growers have decided to simply drop production this year.

    Happens! I dropped production on my apple/ peach orchard in Missouri last season. We went into a drought and the market was depressed for the fruit. Mainly because our "one term" Gov. Blunt did away with the "Wics" program for poor people with a stroke of his pen. All us small growers depended on the program. Skipping a year was a sound business decision. When the apple/peach survey person called last fall he said many others had dropped a year.

    I do not see Australian package bees as ever being a big factor in the issue but instead a way for beekeepers to restock their hives at get the almond grower to pay for most of the cost. Both almond growers & beekeepers which have sit down with me and discussed the issue end up everytime seeing the Aussie import as a good thing.

    You want the Mexican border opened?

    While on the subject let me say three other countries are trying to access the U.S. market but hopefully APHIS will hold the line.

    Also the holdup with bringing varroa tolerant queens from say Texas into say Beartooth (Australia) is held up with the simple Australian requirement that all queens entering Australia has to be DNA tested saying the queen has zero percent AHB.

    The Australian apiary inspection has the highest standards in the world.

    Only an idiot would believe the California rumors packages infested with SHB, varroa and tracheal mites are coming in from Australia. Those rumors are being spread by people with an agenda.
    Bob Harrison

  6. #45
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    Jul 2000
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    NE Calif.
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    Bob,Didnt you write that Terry Brown had access to varroa resistant Italian stock direct from Italy?Not sure you did,just relying on my poor memory.If so that could be helpful.Of course Terry Brown couldnt test it for mite resistance,but we sure could!Could you give a quick update on if he is working with this stock?

    [size="1"][ February 05, 2006, 10:07 AM: Message edited by: loggermike ][/size]

  7. #46
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    Mar 2005
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    Odessa, Missouri
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    Mike,
    Terry is an importer of queens rather than a research/breeder. Terry saw the original Australian line had serious chalkbrood problems.
    Other Australian queen breeders tried to select within the line for chalkbrood resistance. Beekeeping history has shown a very tough row to hoe. Not impossible but when no new blood has been introduced in a 100 years problematic.
    Terry has imported many queen lines to solve his chalkbrood problems. Also an italian line which is supposed to be varroa tolerant ( I told Terry I did not think much of the line ). he also has a Buckfast line. Terry called me when he found out from my partner I had applied varroa pressure to all the line queens he gave me. I killed the italian varroa tolerant line, all but one of the Buckfast and have got four Australian queens left. 10 queens could not handle the varroa pressure ( two frames of drone comb left in all season). I had hoped to kill off 50% but ended up killing off about 70%. Hopefully one or two of those left will be somewhat varroa tolerant. If so I will add some of my genetics and hopefully an Aussie varroa tolerant bee will emerge in a few years.
    We have got the three lines ( italian, Buckfast & Australian) maintained at my partners breeding yards alive & treated before the list gets as upset as Terry Brown did.
    My favorite example of why varroa pressure:
    A race car can sit and idle all day but will it hold up at 200 MPH for 500 miles? I used to build race car engines.
    We also sent 10 queens of the Australian line to Dann Purvis to maintain and evaluate.
    Terry is wanting some varroa tolerant stock to import but we need lab testing to get the queens pass the strict Australian inspection service.
    I do not believe a single pallet buyer this season asked Terry Brown if varroa tolerant queens were available. When beekeepers start wanting varroa tolerant queens then the process will go forward faster.
    Bob Harrison

  8. #47
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    Jul 2000
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    Thanks for the update.I was hoping for a better report on the Italian strain(being mostly partial to Italian type bees).
    Maybe like me,the buyers just assumed since Australia doesnt have varroa there wouldnt be any tolerance .But then again,with deadouts to fill and orchards to pollinate,its a business decision.One that could keep a guy with a lot of deadouts from going under.

  9. #48
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    Jan 2005
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    Greetings from Modesto. Very warm and blossoms beginning to pop. Still hunting for contracts. We are placing 160 at $135 in the morning, so only 500 more to go. It is crunch time in the trenches. Things will happen fast with the current weather pattern so I hope to get these contracts locked up soon.
    Straight Italians have not been able to tolerate my winter and regiment either. It appears that the queens that tightly peg their brood rearing to the flows cope with the mites much better especially if they are HYG/SMR to boot. A break in brood rearing for the bees is also a break in brood rearing for the mites.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  10. #49
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    Hey JBJ hope things are working out.Heres another almond/varroa/shb article:
    http://www.capitalpress.info/main.as...54&TM=45716.14

  11. #50
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    Jan 2005
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    Southern Oregon
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    Thanks Mike. I will check it out. Things seem to be picking up. We have been placing some bees everyday in the 120 to 135 range. We are down to about 250 left to place, and we have not had to take any low-ball offers. I am fairly confident the trend will continue. I am looking forward to gettin home to the family ASAP. Pretty amazing conditions weather wise. Couldn’t ask for better.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  12. #51
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    Jan 2005
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    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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    Hang in there. The end is near. I kinda wish I was down there earning some much needed cash. So have you brought all the hives you wanted to rent out to a holding yard or do you go back and forth?

    Jean-Marc

  13. #52
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    Apr 2004
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    Central CA.
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    The last load was placed this morning. Total of 157 hives in 3 different orchards. I was trying for 200 but had some weak ones, next year 350 to 400 I think that is all my old back can take. How did the rest of you do?
    Jim

  14. #53
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    Apr 2005
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    Salem, Oregon
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    We took two loads down and had blue skys and record temps for FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT.
    Everything went perfect.
    I was feeling bad for many of my fellow beekeepers that lost their contracts but thankfully, they all were able to plug in somewhere.
    Hopefully, we will take a close look at the many situations that we have been made aware of this year and learn something that we can all apply next year.
    And thats' as specific as I care to be about that.

    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  15. #54
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    We blew out one front tire,got stuck twice,but pretty much uneventful.I too have a lot of thoughts about what happened this year,but am mostly thinking about spring management and considering palletizing for next year.

  16. #55
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    Oceano, California, USA
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    If this weather keeps up, we should all have some very nice build up by mid-March. I put on a bunch of old supers with trashy comb hoping to take advantage of the weather and my new queens.

  17. #56
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    If the good weather holds,you may see hives jammed with almond honey at the end of bloom,with the bees hanging out.I've seen that before when there was lots of warm weather during bloom.But they will eat it up fast afterwards because of the heavy brood raising.Then comes swarm prevention!!!!

  18. #57
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    Jun 2002
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    Oceano, California, USA
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    Seems a cold front is moving in the middle of this week, at least down here. Today's temp 78.

  19. #58
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    Jul 2000
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    NE Calif.
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    Figures.Pollination weather is like a box of chocolates.......

  20. #59
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    Jan 2005
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    Southern Oregon
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    Well the dust is beginning to settle and a clearer picture is beginning to form. We have been back for five days now and it is great to be home. This looks to be an unusual year for almond pollination. After getting underbid on our first contract for all of our bees it was a real scramble to get everything rented and we had to take a few miserable contracts along with a few great ones. For some contracts it was the highest fee I have ever received and for others it was the worst in the last 4 or 5 years. The good news is we have the contacts for next year and they are willing to sign early. There are a lot of unhappy growers out there. Almond prices down and hive rental prices are up and growers who have used the same beeks for years are now shopping around. Many beeks tried to jump from the 80 range to the 150 range in one season; this may have been too steep of a hike for one season for a grower to swallow. I took a lot of calls from growers who were willing to dump their beeks with whom they have worked with for years. There were also some shady things going with some growers. I had one contact me who claimed he had a problem with his bees and asked if I would come and look at them, after a brief inspection it was clear that the only problem was price; the bees looked excellent. I contacted the owner of the bees and let him know what was going on. This grower paid me 75 an hour for two hours to look at his bees and he seemed more than a bit disappointed that I did not find problems. There were also some growers who had a poor opinion of the Australian packages and some who had packages who did not know it and seemed quite happy and some who knew it and seemed happy. Results seem to be all over the map on this one. How these Australian bee imports will ultimately affect the almond pollination price remains to be seen and is a subject open for debate. Hopefully the price of these packages remains high so there will not be too much downward pressure on the hive rental price. A flood of cheap imported bees driving the rental price down is not what we want if you make your living pollinating. I could see a trend towards growers buying cheap bees for pollination and then turning them on the market for a profit. I suspect the future price for almond pollination will stabilize in the $125 range, plus or minus $10; it could go much lower if many of the cut throat tactics that were employed by both growers and beeks continue to be employed next year. With some degree of cooperation we beekeepers could do well for ourselves. We need to offer a great product at a fair price with no undercutting. A slightly lower price may be a good thing to keep more distant beeks out due to high transportation cost/risks. It also appears that when growers pay more they expect more, which wont necessarily be the case.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  21. #60
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    My opinion-we hit right up against the price resistance wall this year.Growers fought back the only way they could-getting real picky on the grading.I'm fine with that. We have always been treated fairly on the grading.Either the bees are there or they aren't.When fees were low I think some marginal hives were overlooked by the growers.Can't expect that at these high prices. I think there was too big a jump for one year,but the price is greatly influenced by what it takes to entice the out of staters to come here.If a lot of them feel cheated they may not come back,and the shortage will keep the prices up.Lots of opportunity here if one is able to take advantage of it.

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