“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have not more than four years to live."
That comment, widely attributed to physicist Albert Einstein, is all over the web. And it keeps surfacing in news stories, talk shows, opinion pieces, documentaries, essays and blogs--just about everywhere where bees are and where they aren't.
Problem is, Einstein (1879-1955) didn't say it.
Even Snopes came out and said Einsten, didn't say it.
Albert Einstein was a physicist, not an apiculturist, ecologist or entomologist. Besides, colony collapse disorder (CCD) didn't gain the news media's attention until 2006.
No one has traced the origin of the comment attributed to Einstein, but some folks think it originated in either France or England. Kind of reminds us of all the places that say "Abraham Lincoln slept here" or "George Washington slept here" or quotes falsely attributed to them.
Snopes said it well: "One tried-and-true method for getting people to pay attention to words is to put them into the mouth of a well-known, respected figure whom the public perceives as being an expert in the subject at hand."
Not only did Einstein NOT say it, but it the quote doesn't take into account that millions of people throughout the world exist on grains (such as rice and wheat), which are not pollinated by bees.
One third of the American diet is pollinated by bees, but that's not the case in much of the world.
"Honey bees are thought to have inhabited our planet up to 40 million years," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "They survived the dinosaurs and the glaciers. It is likely they still will be here long after many other animals have gone extinct."
The United Nations, in its recent report on "Global Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators," agreed that "the health and well-being of pollinating insects are crucial to life, be it in sustaining natural habitats or contributing to local and global economies."
"The contribution of pollinators to the production of crops used directly for human food has been estimated at $153 billion globally, which is about 9.5 percent of the total value of human food production worldwide," according to the report. Those crops include these categories: vegetables, cereals, sugar crops, edible all crops, fruits, roots and tubers, nuts, and spikes.
Soon someone will be quoting Albert Einstein as saying "the health and well-being of pollinating insects are crucial to life, be it in sustaining natural habitats or contributing to local and global economies."
Or honey bee guru Eric Mussen.
California peach blossoms are peachy keen.
Especially when honey bees are foraging.
The pink pastel blossoms, powder blue sky, and golden honey bees...yes, California peach orchards are blooming.
Is it too soon to think about peach cobbler?
When something is a "plum," it's something desirable, whether it be a "plum" position, a "plum" assignment or a "plum" reward.
With honey bees, a bee on a plum blossom is definitely a plum job.
The honey bees foraging today in the Häagen-Dazss Honey Bee Haven at Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, were on a plum assignment.
A gorgeous springlike day with more to come, a colony building itself up, sister bees helping one another, and nectar and pollen all for the taking.
However, when I saw the bees packing huge loads of golden pollen, I figured: "They must be plum-tired."
Growing almonds isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The next time you're enjoying a ice cream bar coated with almonds or a salad with toasted almonds, think not only about the honey bees, but the growers.
The Almond Board of California recently reported that "Despite the higher yields and increased efficiencies California almond growers have gained over the years, the costs associated with growing almonds have risen dramatically while net returns per acre have shrunk."
A study by Cooperative Extension Specialist Karen Klonsky of the UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics showed that the total cost of producing an acre of almond is $3,897.
Yes, one acre.
Klonsky analyzed costs for an assumed 40-acre orchard in the northern San Joaquin Valley with 16-foot-22-foot spacings, 124 trees per acre, microsprinkler irrigation, and a 25-year orchard life.
The cultural costs totaled $1,752 or 45 percent of the total cost of production.
Cultural costs? Think pruning, weed control, pickup and ATV use, pollination, irrigation and fertilization, disease, and pests (insects and gophers).
Pollination--that would be the honey bees--accounted for $280 per acre or 16 percent of the cultural costs. (California has some 750,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two hives for pollination.)
Overall, next to cultural costs, the cost of land proved to be the second-highest expense, followed by production costs, cost of trees, and equipment.
"Applying this cost scenario to a price of $1.90 per pound, Klonsky calculated the break-even point would require a 2000 pound-per-acre yield," the board reported in its March newsletter.
And you thought growing almonds was easy?
Cool temperatures and honey bees do not a good team make.
Since honey bees don't forage until temperatures hit 50 to 55 degrees, we haven't seen many bees gathering pollen from our nectarine trees.
If you love nectarines, there's a lot to love. California boasts some 29,300 bearing acres of nectarines, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's down slightly from the 30,300 acres tallied in 2009.
Although acreage is down, yields are up. The 2010 crop totaled 8.03 tons, up slightly from the 7.25 tons harvested in 2009.
Meanwhile, pollen-packin' honey bees turned out in force last Sunday to forage on the pink blossoms of our two nectarine trees.