2009 Season
We are increasing our 2009 almond pollination prices to growers by $15/colony and passing on the entire $15 to beekeepers. We gave a lot of thought to 2009 prices in order to come up with prices that are fair to both almond growers and beekeepers.

Some beekeepers think that by the time things settle out in January, almond bees will be going for $200/colony - that the combination of high honey prices (causing eastern beekeepers to stay home), increased almond acreage and continuing CCD problems will create a severe shortage of bees next year. They may well be right, but growers have to plan their budgets well ahead of time and don't want to be subject to last-minute market vagaries. Also, with water shortages on the west side, it is possible that significant almond acreage will be taken out of production; if so, there could well be a surplus of bees.

We could probably raise our price by more than $15 to growers and they would go along because we have established a reputation for fairness over the years. It would be unfair, though, to take advantage of the current perception of a bee shortage in 2009.

Note: Unless you cancel your current agreement with us by June 1st, your agreement remains in effect for 2009 at the price given on the enclosed slip. I hope you stay on the bus, but if you want to get off, I will respect that. If you stay with us, please fill in the enclosed slip with the number of colonies you can bring and return it to us by July 1st , if possible. I realize that no beekeeper knows what his winter losses will be, so be conservative on the number of colonies you put down. We will notify you by October 30 (sooner, if necessary) of the number of colonies we will need in 2009.

Frost Event
On April 20, temperatures hit 27 degrees (F) in the Sacramento Valley, damaging the crop in some orchards. Statewide, we're still looking at a record crop. This same cold air gave temperature readings as low as 18 degrees in some apple growing areas in Washington, causing significant damage to the early bloom.

Worth Repeating
Date of Mite TreatmentFrames of bees in December*
August 1517+
September 159
October 152.5
*from August 2005, ABJ, p.631. Assume 2,000 bees per frame
The August 15 treatment will be more effective if mite levels are kept down in the summer. And unless you're using a residual material, or your colonies are broodless, you will have to re-treat at 10-day intervals to get the mites sealed in the brood cells (for every mite in the open, there may be 10 inside cells).

$ for Research
So far this year, we have given over $45,000 to bee research: $40,000 to Project ApisM, $3,400 in labor costs to Frank Eischen and $2,000 to Randy Oliver to support his work. $1.00/colony for research comes from growers on the approximately 35,000 colonies we rent; we match that dollar after we have collected all the $ from almond growers (which should be later this year). If you feel so inclined, send your research $ to Project ApisM, 1750 Dayton Rd., Chico, CA 95928.

For those beekeepers renting bees to Paramount Farming (and we know who you are) if (when) you send your $ to Project ApisM, let Paramount know and they will match your contribution.

Word Games
The word beneficials is often used by entomologists and means good insects - those that eat or parasitize harmful insects. Honey bees are not included in this definition although all entomologists agree that the honey bee is a beneficial insect (but not a beneficial). Ask a grower or a lay person to name a beneficial insect and it is likely that the first one named is the honey bee.

Pesticide companies take advantage of this dichotomy by placing ads stating that their product is easy on beneficials. A number of pesticides, including imidan, are easy on beneficials but hard on honey bees. Growers are often surprised to find out that the product they purchased is hazardous to honey bees - after all, they were told that it was easy on beneficials.

Date of Mite TreatmentFrames of bees in December*
August 1517+
September 159
October 152.5
Your "fall" treatment for varroa begins in August.

Cutting Down on Carbon Footprints
When the current administration is out of office next year, you may not see much foreign travel by those members that have been linked to prisoner abuse at Guantanamo and Abu Grabh. Some of the interrogation methods used at these two facilities are considered "torture" by other countries and may be in violation of international law. Unless protected by an entourage, Secretary Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and even President Bush could be subject to arrest on foreign soil when the Cheney administration is over.

Pigeons vs. Bees - And the Winner is ..........
From the January 28, 1889 Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin (reprinted in the April 2008 Australasian Beekeeper:

A pigeon fancier of Hamme, Prussia, made a bet that a dozen bees liberated 3 miles from their hive would reach it in better time than a dozen pigeons would reach their cote from the same distance. The competitors were given wing at Rynhern, a village nearly a league from Hamme, and the first bee finished a quarter of a minute in advance of the first pigeon; 3 other bees reached their goal before the 2nd pigeon; the main body of both detachments finished almost simultaneously an instant or two later. The bees, too, had been handicapped in the race, having been rolled in flour before starting, for the purpose of identification.

Putting Lipstick on a Pig
If you've listened to National Public Radio recently, your reaction was probably the same as mine when you heard the following announcement (not a commercial; NPR doesn't air commercials) for Fiji Water: "Working to give back to the environment."

"Huh??!!" You mean putting water in plastic bottles and hauling it from Fiji to the U.S. is giving back to the environment? They must think that prospective buyers of Fiji Water have an IQ equivalent to that of a gerbil.

You are then directed to their website, www.fijigreen.com where you are assured that the Fiji Water people are doing everything possible to eliminate their carbon footprint and that they are committed to saving the rain forests of Fiji. If you are truly committed to the environment, wouldn't you do a lot more good by crusading to eliminate all bottled water? (except in the very, very few instances where it is superior to tap water).

When people reach the top of their game - in this case manipulation through promotion - They often feel invincible - that anything they touch will turn to gold - including promoting Fiji Water as environmentally friendly.

I have the utmost respect for the owners of Fiji Water, Stewart and Lynda Resnick. They have turned almond, pistachio, citrus and now pomegranate cultivation in California into an art form and their holdings are models of how farms should be managed. Building pomegranate cultivation from nothing into a major ag enterprise, as they have done, is truly remarkable. Why sully this well-deserved reputation as premiere agriculturists with a boondoggle such as bottled water? Why not use your enormous talents on a truly worthwhile project: promoting honey.

The Vision Thing

As a service to our beekeepers we are providing the following eye test. If you have difficulty reading the item below, you will have difficulty seeing varroa mites.
Date of Mite TreatmentFrames of bees in December*
August 1517+
September 159
October 152.5
It is well known that one's vision declines after the age of 40. The average age of U.S. beekeepers is well over 50. Young beekeepers appear to have less mite problems (and less CCD) than average.

Walking Through Walls
A number of beekeepers have told me that they're up against a stone wall when it comes to solving today's bee problems. As a public service, we refer you to
www.walkingthroughwalls.notlong.com where you will find a description of a patented device that will indeed enable you to walk through walls. Mann Lake is working to get an exclusive distributorship for this device.

Thanks, Again
It is beekeepers that make our organization work. Keep working for us, and we'll keep working for you.

Joe Traynor, Mgr.