Bees and bee keepers feel the droughts sting

It could be one of the most devastating years in decades for bee keepers in the Valley.
February 27, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
It could be one of the most devastating years in decades for bee keepers in the Valley.

It's one of the busiest times of the year for these honey bees, and for bee keepers in the Valley like Bryan Beekman.

Beekman said, "It's a lot of sleepless nights for us."

A third generation beekeeper, Beekman has gone through many pollination seasons, but this one is unlike any other.

Beekman explained, "Without the rain we don't get flowers, without flowers the plant won't grow to produce a lot of flowers for us to make honey."

The drought has meant less almond and fruit trees in bloom across Central California and less room for bees to forage, which is crucial to the health of each bee and their hive.

"When the bees get a honey flow it's like giving them a shot of steroids," said Beekman. "It cures all their dilemmas. It's amazing how fast they grow and how happy they are when they're bringing in a lot of nectar."

Without that sweet stuff, Beekman knows his bees' health and his pocketbook will be hit.

"Our honey production is down last year about 50 percent and probably about the same the year before," said Beekman. "This year, I'm estimating it's going to be in the 70th percentile. So that's why the price of honey is going up in the stores."

And while they're up against Mother Nature, Beekman says many will keep their fingers crossed more rain is on the way to help crops so these bees can keep thriving.

In its lifetime, one bee will produce just a fourth of a teaspoon of honey, which is why every bee counts.


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