Watched a troubling show on TV that told the stories of beekeepers loading up hives of bees for transport to California almond orchards. Many of the bees died in transit. With bee populations in decline, is it really wise to be subjecting bees to this kind of stress and potential death? I see more and more almond products appearing in the supermarket, and I can’t help but wonder how many bees died to bring that product here. I don’t plan to buy any of these products until I know that bees are being sacrificed in the attempt to mass-pollinate the almonds.
Every February more than one million beehives — that’s some 40 billion bees, most of them driven cross-country on the back of semi trucks — are unloaded in the cool hours of darkness between the endless rows of almond trees.
The growth of the almond industry has been a major source of income for beekeepers. On the other hand, it has changed the beekeeping industry more than any other factor this century, and has created a melting pot of bees that has spread diseases that put many beekeepers out of business.
The country has lost more than half of its bee colonies over the past 30 years, and new problems crop up faster than scientists can solve them. Though almond growers use some of the most sophisticated agricultural technology available today, the harvest still relies on a simple visit from a bee. With an entire year’s worth of income linked to this act, farmers get understandably nervous when they hear about massive and mysterious bee disappearances.
read more: Beesource Beekeeping » The Almond and the Bee.