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» March 1, 2005 «
Experts don't know exactly why, but California honey production fell sharply last year. A government report released yesterday (Monday) shows that the state's bees produced 45 percent less honey than the previous year. A University of California specialist says the drop may result from a combination of factors, including weather and a pest that attacks and kills bees. Beekeepers also struggled with lower honey prices, which dropped $0.38 a pound on average.
To overcome potential bee shortages in California this winter, almond growers have turned to bees from Australia and New Zealand to help pollinate their trees. The federal government approved the bee imports last fall. Some beekeepers opted to import queen bees and some worker bees in three-pound packages. In most years, the imported bees would be too expensive, but pollination prices have risen this year because of concerns about bee availability.
Produce shippers hope for a solid stretch of fair weather in Southern California, to allow supplies of vegetables and strawberries to recover. February rains disrupted harvests and caused scattered crop damage throughout the region. Farmers say they have had to bypass harvesting some vegetable fields because of mildew and other fungal diseases brought on by excessive rain. They say the conditions this season are unmatched in recent history.
With the aim of learning more about a set of key customers, a delegation of California farmers departs for Japan this week. The California Farm Bureau group will meet with U.S. and Japanese officials, visit retail food shops and attend a large-scale food show near Tokyo. Delegation members will learn more about what products Japanese consumers prefer and what opportunities exist for California-raised farm products.Top