California Drought Affecting Bees, Honey Production
Among the things the current California drought is impacting, is honey. Bee keepers are struggling. They say finding the sweet spots to pollinate is like finding a needle in a very dry haystack.
Tuesday, June 24th 2014, 10:48 AM PDT
California beekeeper Orin Johnson's bees were recently moved to an alfalfa field. He says lately, they're moving bees around like cattle.
"Out of almonds into the citrus bloom into the sage bloom in the coastal range."
They're in constant search for flowers. The drought, however, has made this extremely difficult.
"The only place I've made honey this year was a little bit in the citrus. Everything else was too dry."
Normally by the end of June, Johnson has made half of his year's honey.
"In a good year, we'll have 50 or 60 barrels of honey in the warehouse that I've produced. This year, I have four."
Today, Johnson's bees can't work. Their hives are being treated for mites. Just another extra job that beekeeps have to do, Johnson says, that they didn't ten years ago.
Johnson says, as California's climate dries up, he now has to feed them sugar water to supplement their diet.
"When I was young with my father, we didn't know what feeding bees was. In today's environment we feed for at least 30% of the year, maybe 40% of the year."
So where will Johnson's honey be coming from this summer? The pollen of alfalfa and lima beans.
"People say 'Lima bean honey? Yuck.' It's wonderful if you ever make it."
And Johnson hopes he will make some honey, even if it's bean honey.