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Honey Bee Shortage Could Sting Almond Growers

Feb 15, 2013

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A honey bee shortage in California could sting almond growers this season. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, there aren’t enough bees to pollinate the crops of California’s largest export.

California gets about 75 percent of its bees from other states. But drought, malnutrition and disease killed many of the bees over the winter. The winter losses are still being counted.

But Eric Mussen with the UC-Davis Department of Entomology says fewer colonies will be available for almond growers, and the ones that are available won’t be as populous. He says growers should hope for long stretches of warm weather so stronger bees can make up for the shortage.

“Half the time the almond bloom is out there, if we can get good weather where it’s really warm, the bees have an opportunity to get out there, fly around and what not, they can generally set the almond crop,” says Mussen.

Most almond orchards are in bloom right now. 80 percent of the global supply of almonds is grown in California.