There are about 2.4 million beehives in the United States.
Half of those hives will find themselves in California in the next couple of weeks, with their buzzing little residents working like the bees they are to pollinate the state's almond crop.
Jason Conrad is one of myriad beekeepers working to make sure the almond growers have the hives they need. He's been working with bees since he was 13, and has been in business for himself for a bit more than six years.
"Our local beekeepers can't provide as many bees as are needed here," Conrad said. "Pretty much every beekeeper west of the Mississippi comes to California with their bees this time of the year."
Almonds are completely dependent on bees for pollination. Merced County has more than 94,000 acres of almonds, and those almonds were worth more than $245 million in 2009, making the crop the third-most valuable commodity in the county. California had more than 700,000 acres of almonds in 2009, producing about 80 percent of the world's supply. Almonds were worth about $2.3 billion in the state in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Conrad hopes to have his hives in place by the first couple of weeks of February, since the peak bloom of the almond trees is usually from the middle to the end of February.
Read the complete story at mercedsunstar.com