Here is what my local paper says about the disappearing bees:
Keeping bees busy
Farmers put hives in high demand
Leonor Vivanco, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 04/04/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT
Photo Gallery: Running Bees
MENTONE - When that buzzing sound comes near, most people frantically shoo the bees away.
But beekeepers want to keep them busy and keep them from disappearing. In addition to making honey, the worker bees pollinate crops.
If the honeybees here stay healthy and don't start dropping like flies as they have elsewhere across the country, they would prove to be especially useful for almond crops.
"People are trying to pay more because there's a shortage of bees," said Jon Soffel, a fifth-generation beekeeper for Soffel Honey Co.
Almond growers are paying $120 to $160 a hive, he said.
Soffel has seen his business increase and started this season with more bees than last season. The company has about 1,800 hives.
"Almond growers are planting almonds faster than people are making bees," said Soffel.
Many bee colonies are dying because of mites and a mysterious phenomenon being called colony collapse disorder.
"The difficulty, from my understanding, is they don't have a good handle on why it's happening in the first place," said
Grif Thomas, deputy agricultural commissioner/sealer for the San Bernardino County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures.
Last week, he saw some bees swarming to the east Highland area, which was a good sign.
"It appears to be OK at least at this point," he said.
It hasn't hurt Soffel's business. If their bees started dying out, it would not be good business, he said.
"It would pretty much tear it down," he said.
But now the Soffels seem to be reaping the benefits, when they load the bees on a tractor- trailer and haul them to Bakersfield and have their bees pollinate almond and plum crops.
Bees are a major pollenizer, but not the only one, for citrus crops. They're not as dependent on bees as almond crops are.
So the sting of losing bees wouldn't be quite as severe here.
"The bees don't really affect the citrus," said Steve Buoye, a beekeeper in Mentone who also has 25 acres of orange groves.
They can make honey from the orange trees.
Orange trees can pollinate themselves so they don't need the bees, said Chuck Hills, farm supervisor for Larry Jacinto Farming.
"Your almond guys will be out of business without bees," he said.
"I feel bad for the beekeepers, but it won't affect the (orange) crop here in Redlands."
Buoye said his bees mainly pollinate avocado crops locally and in the Bakersfield area.
"Trying to keep them alive - it's always a challenge," Buoye said about the bees.
He usually takes the bees to flowered areas to keep them healthy.
"This year is going to be tough because there's no rain," he said.