Scientific Ag Co. Bakersfield, CA
Joe Traynor, Mgr.

2008 Almond Pollination

After careful study of the current almond and bee situation, we are increasing our prices by $14/colony to beekeepers ($15/col. to growers) for 2008. We are making this increase in the face of declining almond prices (now below $2/lb due to a record crop) and requests from growers not to “bleed them” any more.

To date, none of our beekeepers have cancelled their agreements with us by the June 1st deadline so we are extending the deadline to July 1. Please give careful thought to the number of colonies you can commit for 2008 almonds and fill out and return the enclosed form at your earliest convenience.

If you bring us bees in 2008, use the extra $14/colony for supplemental feeding rather than on a new vehicle or toy.

Feed and Pollen Sources

Norm Cary (559)652-0300
Global Patties (866)948-6084
Feed-Bee (800)387-5292
Pat Heitkam (530)865-9562
Mann Lake (800)880-7694

Walt Dahmer (780)963-4281
Ernie Fuhr (250)785-4808
Stakich Co. (248)642-7023
Cathy Zou (909)820-6669

We can pay Norm Cary from your first almond check and you may be able to work out a similar arrangement with others listed above.

Good Nutrition Suppresses Viruses
All of us carry harmful viruses and bacteria in our bodies at all times. When we get run down, these viruses can take over causing colds, flu and other assorted ailments. Bees are no different. All bees carry harmful viruses; when bees are stressed, these dormant viruses can get a toehold and even cause colonies to collapse.

One of our bee suppliers that has consistently good almond bees applies 1# pollen-patties (20% pollen) about twice a month from October through January (over 2 lbs of pollen, total).

Hypopharyngeal Glands
Get used to the word – you’ll be hearing it a lot in coming years. Hypopharyngeal glands in worker bees secrete food that nourishes the young larvae that are vital in maintaining colony populations (i.e., that keep colonies from collapsing).

Haydak showed that fresh pollen was 100% effective in stimulating the development of h. glands in worker bees but that pollen stored more than a year lost 76% of its effectiveness. ABJ, 1961, 101:354-355. Some of this loss of effectiveness is likely due to degradation of essential amino acids and some commercial feeds are fortified with amino acids. So just because you have “plenty of stored pollen” doesn’t mean that its nutritious pollen. When purchasing pollen for feed, try to get this year’s crop (and make sure its irradiated). The pollen in some pollen patties is not as nutritious as fresh pollen but it does have an important corollary effect: it makes the patty more palatable to bees sot that they consume the vital protein in the patty (usually from brewers yeast.

Searching for Graham Kleinschmidt
I first heard the name “Kleinschmidt” from Frank Eischen a few years ago. Frank holds Kleinschmidt’s work in high regard and often cites his extensive nutritional work on bees. Most of Kleinschmidt’s work is found in Australian publications, rarely, if ever, in U.S. publications (it is noteworthy that Kleinschmidt is not cited even once in the U.S. beekeeping bible The Hive and the Honey Bee).

If you attend Apimondia this September, try to track down some of Kleinschmidt’s studies; better yet, try to track down the elusive Kleinschmidt himself!

Requeening once a year has been the gold standard but by pushing queens to lay fall-winter eggs, we may need a new standard. On of our top suppliers now requeens twice a year.

Syrup Feeding Can Make Bees Disappear
“Feeding sugar syrup stimulates flight activity. Feeding during adverse weather conditions will promote flight activity that results in the loss of field bees.” G. Kleinschmidt, 1986 Research Paper 3.5.7, Queensland Agricultural College.

Nosema Note
“When bees hives are opened regularly during cool weather the level of nosema spores increases rapidly”.
G. Kleinschmidt (same publication cited above).

Vocabulary Update
People in many professions use certain words or phrases to elevate themselves above the masses. Writ of habeas corpus is often used in the legal profession (even though some lawyers aren’t sure what it means). I recently ran across 3 new terms (new to me, anyway) that beekeepers can use to distance themselves from others and that could be put to profitable use at your next bee meeting: Vitellogenin, Malpighian tubules (or tubes) and Marie Celeste Syndrome. Some brief definitions, in case someone calls you on it:

Vitellogenin: a substance that contributes to bee longevity (queens have more than workers).

Malpighian tubes: conduits to rid bees of waste products; located between the mid and hindgut of bees (analogous to our kidneys).

Marie Celeste Syndrome: likens disappearing bees to the 1872 disappearance of the entire crew of the UK ship Mary Celeste (the ship was found floating, in perfect condition, but with no one on board).

I had the opportunity to put these words to good use recently. Bob Harrison approached me and said “as a failed beekeeper, you have a lot of nerve, Traynor, giving advice to beekeepers.” Bob is, of course, right, but I couldn’t resist replying “Chances are, Bob, your bees are suffering from a lack of vitellogenin in their malpighian tubes which is causing Marie Celeste Syndrome in you colonies.” Bob’s jaw dropped; he was speechless as he turned and shuffled away, shoulders slumped, a beaten man.

The beekeeping vocabulary of almond growers has expanded in recent years; some now speak confidently of “frames”, “supers” and one vs. two-story colonies. The term “supplemental feeding” has crept into the vocabulary of a few almond growers, to the delight of some beekeepers (and the consternation of others).

History Notes
A number of people have pointed out that the current Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is similar, if not identical, to Disappearing Disease (DD) that has affected bees at sporadic intervals over the past 100 years. Here are a few old quotes on disappearing disease:

“Strong colonies, heavy with honey and pollen, apparently at their prime for overwintering, suddenly start to decline for no apparent reason during autumn, and collapse within six weeks”. Bee Culture, March 1966, pp.152,153.

“Why are pesticides so often listed as the primary cause of dwindling/disappearing bee problems? In the past, people have been inclined to “think” pesticides often without thoroughly investigating all aspects of the bee losses”. ABJ, March 1979, p. 185.

“How far will a bee fly in search of pollen and nectar if it fails to find any? It would seem that under conditions described for DD that bees could literally fly themselves to death.” ABJ, May 1979, p.395.

“But on the National scene and as far as the bee world is concerned ‘disappearing disease’ at the present is a paper tiger created by the news media.” Bee Culture, November 1986, p.660.

Neonicotinoid Insecticides
A number of respected beekeepers firmly believe that the new Neonicotinoid insecticides are either causing CCD or contributing to it. There is some circumstantial evidence to back them up: CCD symptoms (disoriented bees) are similar to N poisoning. To date, field tests have not confirmed Ns are a problem for bees (refers to soil and seed treatments only; topical applications can cause problems).

Virtually all canola seed is treated with imidacloprid yet beekeepers say their bees thrive on canola. ND State Extension entomologist, Janet Knodel, feels N in canola degrades to harmless levels after 20 days and that since canola doesn’t bloom until 20+ days after planting, there should be no bee problems. In 2000, Marla Spivak cooperated with Canadian workers in a field test and found no bee problems with canola. Patty Elzen (USDA, Weslaco, TX) showed no harmful effects from soil-applied imidacloprid on cantaloupes in 2004 (cantaloupes have one of the shortest intervals from seed to flowering).

Certainly more studies should be run on Ns with other crops, but to date no smoking gun has been found showing that Ns cause or contribute to CCD. For a different view, check out

Bee-Pesticide Publication
Oregon and Washington State Extension recently put out an updated How to Reduce Bee Poisoning From Pesticides. (PNW 591; $5.00). To order a copy call (800)561-6719 or (541)737-2513.

Have a Good Year
We hope you enjoy a productive year with healthy bees. Planning for almonds starts by August (maybe sooner). Call us anytime for an update on 2008 almond pollination.

Joe Traynor, (881)327-2631