California’s Honeybee Shortage

Just south of here, our fellow farmers in California are dealing a severe shortage of honeybees.

This is pollinating season for the state’s almond crop. And since almond trees do a lousy job of pollinating themselves, growers are almost entirely dependent on honeybees and wild bees to do the job. No bees. No nuts.

Just how serious is the shortage?

Rogue Farm honeybees .
Rogue Farm honeybees .

California has 800,000 acres of almond orchards, requiring two hives per acre, for a total of 1.6 million hives. So far, beekeepers have only been able to provide 500,000 hives – less than a third of what’s needed. And the hives they’re using have fewer bees than previous years.

While no one’s predicting disaster – there’s a lot of factors that affect almond production – California produces 80% of the world’s almond crop which this year is expected to be worth $3 billion. There’s a lot at stake in those hives.

Many Oregon beekeepers send their hives to California this time of year for almond tree pollination. We thought about sending the Rogue Farms Honeybees but decided against it. The move stresses out the hives, and a steady diet of nut pollen isn’t good nutrition for our honeybees.

But the news reminds us how important honeybees are to supplying us with the food we eat, whether it’s almonds, honey, or in our case 19 Original Colonies Mead.

For more about the Rogue Farms Honeybees, see the Bee Buzz on