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Six Months On The Road" Inside The World Of Migratory Beekeeping

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Every spring, beekeepers across the country ready their hives for the long drive west. 

As California almond growers ready their groves for the incoming blossoms, a deluge of honey bees converges on the state—nearly two million hives worth. With roughly 1.5 million acres of almonds to pollinate, it takes a lot of bees to get those almonds ready to grow. After spending about two weeks in California, the bees pack up and hit the road again, ready for their next destination. This is just the first stop in an annual cross-country work trip. 

They’ll hit blueberries in North Carolina and apples in Michigan, watermelon in Florida and pumpkins in New York. It’s a busy schedule and not for the faint of heart—especially when traveling in late winter to make it for those first spring blooms. “There were times when we had icy roads, and you’re trying to move equipment and materials around, and they’re shutting down roads,” says Glenn Card, vice president of Merrimack Valley Apiaries in Massachusetts. “One time it took us all day just to travel 100 miles between road closures and everything else.” Life on the road isn’t easy, no matter how small your traveling companions might be. 

“These are livestock. They need water every couple of days,” says Dan Winter, president of the American Beekeeping Federation. “If you’re driving across the country and you don’t get rain, the driver has to get the hose out and actually water the bees down.” Winter says drivers hauling bees have to be experienced with handling livestock, and bees aren’t any different. “If a hive gets overheated on the truck, then, obviously, the bees aren’t really going to be up to shape to pollinate when they get where they’re going. It takes some practice and some time to get good at it.”    


Read the rest of the article here.

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