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Discussion Starter #1
I have been reading comments made by Australian beeks and U.S. importers/sellers of bees there is a shortage of bees in the United States. American beekeepers/queen breeders can't supply enough of both to meet the demand in our own country and they are providing a very important service to our industry.

Is this true???

If it is, I'm a new beek and I'm going to change up my long term plan to put more emphasis on package/nuc production to help supply this alleged shortage(aka big market in my own backyard). I would encourage others to do the same so our fellow beeks won't have to rely on imported bees shipped from the other side of the world and run the risk of exposing the industry as a whole to new parasites/diseases, not to mention genetics that could possibly set back the progress made with our bees in regards to hygenic behavior/resistance.

Whether you are a commercial operator or have a few hives, I'd like to hear your opinion about this alleged shortage. If there is a shortage, why do you think it exists.
 

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I have never had a problem getting queens and as far as I know there is no shortage of packages either. I think the Australians and their importers would like you to think there is so they can continue to flood the market with their bees. I would check to see if there is a good enough market for this before you change over your operation...it is called doing a market survey...much better then going off hype.

Good luck.
 

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The main beneficiary of the Australian packages is the almond industry. Those packages serve to depress the price of almond pollination. The queens and bees are junk, or worse. US beekeepers are under the bus. Right now there is an abundance of bees in California, lowballing and undercutting each other. Bees are being offered at $120 but growers are shopping for the $100.
 

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I agree with both Alpha and Tom (and you too Keith, lol). There is no shortage of bees as far as I can tell. Australian packages wouldn't be an issue if not for almond pollination needs. The importers want to create the impression of a shortage to justify the imports. The growers want to create the impression of a shortage to lure more bees into the state to hopefully create more of a supply glut, thus lowering prices further. We all saw what happened a few years back when almond prices skyrocketed due to an unexpected shortage; bees came crawling out of the woodwork from every state in the union. Growers would love that huge influx again, but without the price raise.:rolleyes:
Sheri
 

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All that being said backyard beekeeping is quite the emerging trend. Local nucs might have quite a market. I know around here it's all about packages. I'd rather purchase nucs, myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So if the bee shortage is "trumped up", who is buying the bees and why?
 

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There's not a shortage, just can't get mainland packages in Jan. or Feb. Its summer there when its winter here.
Almonds bloom before we can produce the packages. Thats the misunderstanding.
I don't know if Hawaii could fill the void, for almonds, & the last minute beekeepers. Some pollinating beekeepers dump there bees after pollination, & buy new ones every spring. That practice might be Australia's big market.
 

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The main beneficiary of the Australian packages is the almond industry. Those packages serve to depress the price of almond pollination. The queens and bees are junk, or worse. US beekeepers are under the bus.
Has anyone heard about package producers in the Southeast buying colonies from CA, after almond pollination and then shaking packages out of them? And that these bees are from packages that were bought from Australia to fill empty or weak hives before going into almonds?

If this is being done, is it contributing to what we are calling CCD?

How viable are Australian queens and bees in our environment, in our hives, exposed to varroa for the first time?

What is the buzz about almond growers demanding that the border w/ Mexico should be opened if US beeks couldn't supply them w/ enuf hives? Afterall, AHBs are already here. So that excuse is less credible. Isn't it?

Sorry if some of these questions are off topic.
 

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Those colonies started from the Aussies would not be in condition to shake out of. You know we have joked around here for a few years that the collapsing started or got worse just when they were first allowed in. Some folks claim success with them but all I have spoken with did not have that experience, more like after 12 months they are not alive. One beekeeper going through his colonies yesterday found that the ones marked A for Aus qs were the deadouts while the NWCs were just dandy. Of course if there was a reciprocal demand in Australia for shook bees at the end of our summer, their protocol would not allow importation.

I wish people would quit bringing up this Mexican bee thing! There are plenty of bees in the US, but it's much more expensive to operate. Forcing down pollination fees is the name of the game, not assuring adequate supply. Variation on the theme: "I'll just get them somewhere else". On an international scale. Chinese honey and Mexican & Australian bees who needs you?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
My point exactly. I'm new at this, but everything I read points to our U.S. beekeeping industry has enough bees and resources to provide all the bees we need at the needed times without importing from other countries and risking disease/parasite importation as well. Seems to me the importation of bees is more an effort to "back door" U.S. beeks and drive down pollination prices.

In view of this and as a new beek, is it recommended I incorporate managing my bees in a way to sell packages and nucs? Another question. I'm in the panhandle of Texas. Are my packages/nucs going to be labeled as possibly being "africanized" by a terrorized buying public?

To be honest, I haven't seen an africanized colony yet(going on three years) but I'm always aware they exist in some places in various degrees. I picked up a free colony two years ago from a local guy who hadn't worked the hive in five years. The bees had turned feral and were healthy bees, but weren't any more aggressive than working my other colonies. There was never an outpouring of the colony and mass attack characterized by africanization nor the constant swarming behavior.
 

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There is always a shortage feb-april. Queens and packages cannot be had until late april/early may but are needed in late feb/march in the south. There is an abundance of bees from june-aug.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Is there really a shortage of bees in Feb-April? Or is it more of a problem with people not wanting to buy bees from Gulf Coast states for fear of getting "africanized" bees? The central Texas bees I'm buying this year will be ready anytime after March 1st. I suspect you could get all the bees you wanted out of the Rio Grande Valley in February. Then there is FL and southern CA.

As an earlier post mentioned, there is also an opportunity to get bees from Hawaii.
 

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I am not sure why, I just know that when I need queens in late march everyone I call says they are sold out until may. I also know that most people here looking for packages cannot get them until late april at the earliest. If someone knows sources out west who can get bees to the east in early spring then we'd love to hear about it over here. I know one bee club in GA who is buying bees and queens from Australia.
 

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Is there really a shortage of bees in Feb-April? Or is it more of a problem with people not wanting to buy bees from Gulf Coast states for fear of getting "africanized" bees?

As an earlier post mentioned, there is also an opportunity to get bees from Hawaii.
If I wanted to make splits in SC in February, as friends of mine did last year, where would you suggest that I get queens from. Hawaiian sources get booked up well in advance, from what i have heard.

And what is the quality of the earliest queens from southern sources? How long have they had drones?

At the ABF Conference Larry Conners said that I should start grafting queen when I see the first purple eyed drones in my colonies. I didn't get to ask him how many such drones should I see first. You have to have lots of good drones to have well mated queens.
 

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In the larger picture, we’ve all probably seen the USDA’s statistics on how many fewer hives exist today than did sixty or so years ago. If their numbers are anywhere near right and if the demand for pollinating hives is truly climbing, then if a shortage doesn’t exist today…..it soon will. Having said that, I’d guess that there are enough hives of bees available in the states…if the price is right. But how long will it remain practical or sustainable to truck bees from the east coast to CA for almonds?
 
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