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» February 14, 2006 «
Lured by reports of higher rates for pollination, beekeepers from as far away as Maine, New York and other Eastern and Midwestern states have converged on California. The influx of beekeepers has eased farmers' concerns about potential bee shortages. In fact, enough bee colonies have reached the state that rental prices have eased. Almonds and other tree crops depend on bees to pollinate blossoms, but disease has wiped out many bee colonies in recent years.
Increased pollination rates make beehives more valuable ... and more attractive to thieves. In Merced County, for example, rural-crime detectives report nearly 90 hives have been stolen in three separate incidents. Detectives told the Merced Sun-Star newspaper that they have planted tracking devices in some beehives, to trace their movement in the event of theft. Authorities encourage beekeepers to clearly mark their hives, as one way to deter thieves.
Sparkling wine remains a staple of many Valentine's Day celebrations ... and wine marketers say they're noticing other trends in holiday demand. A supermarket consultant reports it appears that more women buy wine as a Valentine's gift for men than vice versa. People often buy the appropriate red or white wine to accompany a romantic dinner. Other marketers say they see sales of dessert wines grow, as people seek wines to complement strawberries or chocolate.
The gates open today (Tuesday) for what's billed as the world's largest farm-equipment show: the World Ag Expo in Tulare. Officials say they expect more than 100,000 people to attend the three-day show. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to visit the event tomorrow (Wednesday). More than 1,500 exhibitors flock to the show, to demonstrate the latest farm equipment, irrigation supplies and other technology used on family farms and ranches.Top