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

2003 Season
The enclosed check is tne second and final payment for the 2004 almond pool. This is the earliest we have ever completed payment; it is a reflection of prompter payment by growers who are aware that the bee supply was tight this year. There are still 6 growers that haven't paid us, growers that are late-pay every year (they are "unclear on the concept").

Most beekeepers found themselves treated with more respect from growers this year. Some large growers that treated beekeepers as 2nd class citizens in past years are now being very solicitous of beekeeper feelings.

We have always treated our beekeepers with respect because we feel that our beekeepers are a cut above the average. We know they are the backbone of our organization - without them, without you, we would not have a business.

Although the bee supply was tight this year, I know of no grower that went without bees. I recently talked with a grower that we were unable to supply with 50 bee colonies and he told me the beekeeper he got them from at the last minute, Adee*, had plenty of bees available. So the bees were out there, it was just a matter of a grower making the proper connection.

The 2004 almond crop looks better than anyone expected. There was a lot of pessimism among growers during the marginal bloom weather, but the warm, sunny post-bloom weather was the best in anyone's memory. Many (including me) feel that post-bloom weather is just as important as pollination weather, and this year proved it. This year showed that almond growers are likely using too many bees - look for some to cut back next year.

*rnany beekeepers live in fear of The Adee, a mythical beast that has been rumored to swallow up almond accounts should some unsuspecting beekeeper raise his pollination fees. These fears have proven unfounded and The Adee is actually pretty nice when you get to know him.

2005 Season and June 1st Deadline
We plan a price increase of $3 to $5 a colony for the 2005 season. We will let you know in May or June what the price will be. Some of you have told us you would rather deliver field-run bees instead of getting a price increase. To accept field-run bees would be to lower our standards to the level of much of our competition and would only hurt our (and your) business in the long run. Beekeepers have told us that the extra time they put into providing us top-line bees for almonds pays off during citrus bloom. These top-line colonies make far more honey than field-run bees.

Remember that your pollination agreement with us is continuous from one year to the next unless you cancel the agreement by June 1st.

Bees and Mandarins
6 beekeepers attended the March 31st citrus meeting in Bakersfield which featured a presentation by Dr. Thomas Chao (U.C., Riverside) on mandarin pollination, bees and seeds. After the meeting was over, beekeepers and interested mandarin growers had an informal discussion on "The Problem". Nothing was resolved but each side came away with a better understanding of the other side. Mandarin growers also came away with a definite desire to fund research on the problem. Dr. Chao will give a similar presentation Thursday, April 8 at a citrus meeting from 8-11 AM at the Ag Building, 4437 S. Laspina St., Tulare; Dr. Chao is scheduled for 10:15 AM; call (559) 685-3303 for details. Dr. Tracy Kahn (UCR) will discuss citrus varieties (including mandarins) at 8:30 AM.

Toll-free numbers
We encourage you to use our toll-free numbers (above) to contact us anytime for any purpose; they are particularly handy when calling from a pay phone. We are happy to provide this service; its not a major cost for us. Some cell phone companies charge long-distance rates for toll-free numbers. Check your bill and if you're being charged for toll-free calls to us you might as well use the (661) 327-2631 number - no sense in both of us paying for the call.

April 15 Gala
The Tulare-Kings County Beekeepers Assn., a lively group, is having a blow-out the evening for April 15 to celebrate the end of Tax Day. The meeting site is the Lindsay Community Center. Dinner (including drink and tip) is $8.95. Contact Max or Jane Eggman (559) 535-5267 for more information.

SEE Jack Brumley demonstrate the oil-fogger in the parking lot prior to dinner (be there at 5PM for the demonstration, dinner starts at 6PM).

HEAR a star-studded cast of after-dinner speakers including Gene Brandi, Blue Diamond rep Steve Rothenberg and many, many others (all speakers will limit their remarks to a few minutes).

Fire from Foggers
Several beekeepers have found that the combination of a propane flame + mineral oil can be an incendiary one with the potential to set an entire hive on fire. Have a fire extinguisher handy if using the fogger and never use the fogger around dry grass.

Source for Frames & Supers
The Havre Day Activity Center in Havre, Montana is a non-profit corporation that has assembled frames and supers for some
Montana beekeepers. If interested, contact Dewi Jones at (406) 265-5506.

from the Montana State Beekeeper Assn Newsletter, Wade Anderson, President

Scare from Imports
Last November over 600 hepatitis cases were linked with green onions from Mexico. Another reason to buy U.S.

We had no bees stolen from our orchards this year (vs. 60 stolen last year + 200 from a stockpile site). We think that our signs (BEE HIVES ON THIS PROPERTY ARE PERMANENTLY IDENTIFIED WITH AVID MICROCHIPS) were a deterrent to hive theft.

The theft-microchip "story" generated a lot of interest from the media - print, TV and radio.

Refresher Course
"In general it is recommended to replace 3 combs in the brood chamber every year with new foundation. This practice will help to reduce the levels of spores and miticide residues in bee colonies."

Have a Great Year
Although our season is just ending, yours never ends. Best wishes for a bountiful honey crop and a prosperous year.

Call us anytime to let us know how you're doing and for an update on things up here.

- Joe Traynor