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I watch this forum with interest and I was wondering now that the bees have left the almonds what you commercial folks thought of this years event. I'm curious about anything you care to share, for example: Did the trees get well pollinated this year? Were there enough bees? Too many bees? Did the bees come out strong? Was it an average year or an unusual year? Anybody learn any lessons they want to share. Thanks, Adrian. :)
 

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My take. Bees going in were in worse shape then years past. Reports coming out are a bit mixed, but generally the bees are looking good but not as good as years past. Prices agreed to by brokers were really about $20 less then last year and IMHO too little and since there was an overall shortage of about 100,000 colonies beeks could have made more on them especially since less got in for most beeks. Some reports of placements getting in a bit behind due to rain but I think for the most part it was a good pollination season for the almonds so they should show a good crop. Because of the shortage and some big commercial guys taking big hits on losses I suspect the price per for next year will be a bit higher and I think the growers are going to be looking to lock in contracts earlier this year.

Tom? Keith? Shari? Sound about right?
 

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from what i hear 200,000 short, probably 400,000 short of GOOD bees. Mine went in at last minute as I wasnt going for $100 less exp. so I a good price. My bees were not as strong as usual due to cold Fl winter, but were still 7+ frames ave 4+ min with 2-5 frames brood. So within a week or tendays of hitting the ground we had 8+ frame colonies. Bees were not heavy going in and were light coming out. BUT we had LOTS of brood where inlast two years we had TOO much honey and not enough brood as some became hone bound. I suspect price will be 150 nex year with contracts signed in Sept/Oct. Tom?
 

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I didn't take my bees to the almonds, but I keep up on the reports as well.

The scuttlebutt is that the bees went into the almonds in poor to fair shape, due to the cold and wet weather across the south (Carolinas, Florida, and Georgia in particular). What came out was considered to be fair at best. Prices were less than last year, with late comers hoping for higher contract prices. Those higher dollar amounts weren't realized, for the most part.
 

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BIgdaddy after my bees were on truck I had a offer of 190 less transportation....good bees could have been ploaced for 200 per hive less transportation and broker fees.
 

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Comments made are pretty much my impression also. Lots of poor to fair colonies sent out but good colonies too; it wasn't near the disaster for some as for others. Ours were good going in and great coming out, despite being on the verge of starvation a couple of times, somewhat due to the poor '09 crop but mostly the large amount of brood they needed to feed and not getting much out of the almonds. They were exploding with brood coming home and close to living on air.
All that rain during bloom is impacting the crop, which will raise almond prices and demand for bees next year. Hopefully the price will raise as well. Those that waited this year were well rewarded. Weaker colonies rejected from early contracts were snapped up later and sometimes paid more than the contracted ones. This type of disparity enhances the uncertainty of this market for everyone, but especially for those needing (or wanting) to commit one way or the other months ahead of the bloom.

I am hearing more and more about fungicides impacting queen rearing, with lots of reports of large percentage of larvae dying in the cells. Will queen rearers pull more colonies from the bloom? If queen prices rise this will be another input beeks will be expected to absorb.

I think beeks, both locals and migrators, are getting to the point where the contractual pollination fees aren't fairly reflecting the inputs required and the associated risks. Somethings gotta give.
Sheri
 

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Captan and Pristine have different active ingredients but the damage to bee colonies from Captan is documented. I don't know about Pristine.
 

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This is new research...will post link in next post.

P2.60 BRIAN Z. HEDGES1, DAVID M. KOLAKOWSKI1, JAY A. YODER1, DIANA SAMMATARO2 AND GLORIA DeGRANDI-HOFFMAN2. Wittenberg University1, USDA-ARS, Carl Hayden Honey Bee Research Center2. Alteration of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony nutritional source, "bee bread", in response to fungicide exposure.
Symbiotic bee colony fungi convert stored pollen into bee bread, satisfying an absolute dietary requirement for developing bee larvae. When sprayed, fungicides are brought into the colony by bees via contaminated pollen. This study explores effects of fungicide on bee bread fungi in vitro by radial growth rate determination of 12 bee bread fungal isolates with Pristine® (BASF), a broad spectrum fungicide frequently applied to various commercial crops. Natural comb cell conditions were simulated by conducting the experiment on bee-bread supplemented non-nutritive agar, 30oC, darkness, and 5% CO2. Radial growth rates for each fungus were characteristic and were reduced 12% - 80% by fungicide, depending on species and concentration, in a dose-response. Percentage reduction in growth rates, mortality, and least effective concentration differed among the 12 fungi and did not correlate with whether the fungus was a slow/moderate- or fast-grower; i.e., no two fungi responded the same. Effectiveness of Pristine is species (likely strain)-specific and is not a function of slow growth retaining fungi on treated surfaces longer or decreased exposure times by faster growers that spread rapidly. Most tolerant fungi to Pristine were Rhizopus sp., Mucor sp., and Absidia sp., and Penicillium sp. and Aspergillus niger were the most sensitive. Pristine had a controlling effect on bee fungal pathogens, Ascosphaera apis (chalkbrood) and Aspergillus flavus (stonebrood). Thus, bee bread fungi respond to fungicide differently and could have a negative effect on colony health by altering the composition of mycoflora that bees use to process and store their food.
 

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Here is Joe's take on it.

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2011 Bee Supply

There was a shortage of almond bees this year after beekeepers sorted their winter stockpiles and came up with greater than expected losses. 2009 was a record low year for honey production which meant that bees went into winter with sub-optimal nutrition, setting them up to succumb to the agents of CCD (viruses, et al.). There is usually a strong correlation between an individual beekeeper’s honey crop and the health of his colonies the following February.


The 2010 honey crop should be much better than last year and, as a result, the supply of almond bees should also be greater. Beekeepers that incurred significant losses this past winter will be making up their numbers and, barring unforeseen events, there should be an ample supply of almond bees in 2011. There were $100 and $120 almond bees this year, there will be next year and every year. There will always be cheap bees out there — deal with it.


Based on this year’s experience, growers will be looking to finalize their 2011 bee supply well before November. Beekeepers that played the waiting game this year were rewarded with high prices for substandard colonies. Such a scenario is unlikely for 2011.
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http://www.beesource.com/point-of-v...ter/almond-grower-newsletter-–-april-12-2010/
 

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Here is Joe's take on it.

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2011 Bee Supply




Beekeepers that incurred significant losses this past winter will be making up their numbers and, barring unforeseen events, there should be an ample supply of almond bees in 2011.
I can tell you right now that this is not happening. Right now, because of the weak hives coming out of almonds the numbers coming from splits are not making up for the loses so several large beeks this year are going to be running with less bees then last year. Also reports that the wet weather in Calf. if affecting queen production and so there are less queens coming in as splits are ready so that's taking an effect. As far as him predicting a better honey season, what is that based on? Everyone I know is "hoping" for a better season but no one around here has a crystal ball.
 

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We had a pretty good run in CA. We were able to fill up quite a bit of equipment for other beekeepers after the bloom. Now its time to work on filling our stuff up.
Lots of syrup and protien sub were fed to hopefully override the effects of poor pollen and fungicides. It seems to work but takes lots of resources (time and money) which comes from getting good prices for pollination.
Cheap is not an option when good bees are needed.
 

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i totally agree with Alpha on this one. our bees came out of the almonds fairly strong. But for others this is not the case. unless there are changes in beekeeping practices and chemical usage, there will be no bees left in 10 years.
 

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Our bees came out fairly strong though dangerously light. Yeah I'm not quite sure I get the prediction of ample bee supplies for almonds next year. If the national honey report is to be believed it claimed that hive numbers were up in 09 yet clearly quality hives were in short supply when everyone was forced to "lay down their hands" in February.
 

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From what I can see, the nations beekeepers are doing a great job of providing bees for almond pollination. The quality strength of the bees in the field is much much better than it was 20 years ago. Beekeepers are requeening, feeding, medicating, and searching for better locations like never before. We are fortunate to have this huge flow of cash in to the industry. That being said, it is harder and more expensive than ever to do this. The expenses involved and especially the cost of rebuilding after heavy losses take a toll on profits.

Ten years ago, all we heard was "8 frames, gotta have 8 frames of bees"..."I don't wanna pay for those weak ones"....But now that bkprs have geared up for it, they don't want to pay for it! Growers are going to fight tooth and nail to keep pollination prices down, believe me. Sure they want to have an agreement earlier in 2011, but I think if you quote them a price higher than 2010, they will go shopping.

Bottom line, if they were paying higher prices they would get more bees, but if they can't get enough at $100 or $120 they will claim a shortage and open the border to Mexicans.
 

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Just unloaded one of our last two trucks out of Calf. this morning. 80% looked good with the others being dead outs or really weak. The trucker commented that the truck was one of the lightest he has carried as were lots of loads he carried out of Calf. this year. Sure enough, checking, they all need feed NOW. If we can get enough feed on them they will stay strong. Lucky for us we are getting higher then normal temps so spring is coming in nice. In a week we should have trees and flowers blooming and I think the worst will be past. For now.
 
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