Beekeeper Concerns ... Health, Hives, and Honey

January 9, 2009 8:03:59 PM PST
Bees are vital to food production here in the Valley. But many have been dying off due to a mysterious ailment.Healthy frames full of bees are what honey producers hope to find. Fresno's hosting a national convention of beekeepers. And they have a long list of concerns.

Beekeepers are among those hoping these overcast skies will open up. Without healthy crops to pollinate, beekeepers suffer alongside farmers.

"Water is a big issue out here because if they don't get the water they're not going to be able to irrigate these almond fields," said Ken Haff.

Haff is Vice-President of the American Honey Producers Association which is holding its annual convention in Fresno. Beekeepers around the country continue to lose hives to a disorder known as Colony Collapse. Its cause hasn't been pin-pointed. And until that happens, Haff says the government should keep foreign bees out of the U.S.

"They turn around and give us funding to find out what is causing colony collapse but yet at the same time they turn around and open the border from Australia, which has got diseases that we don't have over here," said Haff.

Despite a tight economy exhibitors here remain hopeful. Everything from books to clothing items were on display. Josh Cowens sells honey extractors for large commercial producers.

"30 on each side. They close the hood, start the machine. It starts spinning. We use centrifugal force to extract the honey from the combs."

Smaller honey producers are amazed by the large extractor but hobbyists still do it by hand.

American honey producers say they also face stiff competition from china ... which makes beehive health that much more important.

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