Bee Rentals and Migratory Beekeeping
After the winter of 1907, U.S. beekeeper Nephi Miller decided to try moving his hives to different areas of the country to increase their productivity during winter. Since then, "migratory beekeeping" has become widespread in the U.S. It is a crucial element of U.S. agriculture, which could not produce anywhere near its current levels with native pollinators alone. Beekeepers earn much more from renting their bees out for pollination than they do from honey production.
One major U.S. beekeeper reports moving his hives from Idaho to California in January to prepare for almond pollination in February, then to apple orchards in Washington in March, to North Dakota two months later for honey production, and then back to Idaho by November — a journey of several thousands of miles. Others move from Florida to New Hampshire or to Texas. About two thirds of US domestic bees visit California for the almond bloom in February.
California currently leads production of almonds worldwide, with 80% of global production. Each spring, migratory beekeepers rent hives to almond farmers in the Central Valley for pollination. Honeybees increase almond yields from an expected 40 lbs/acre to an average of 2,400 lbs/acre.
The wider spread and intermingling in the US has resulted in far greater losses from Varroa mite infections in recent years, than in countries where beekeepers move bees around less.
Read more about this topic: Beekeeping In The United States
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