Bees

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As the shortage of honey bees worsens, California growers increasingly rely on bees from Arizona for pollination. We’ll follow an Arizona bee farmer as he readies his “crop” of pollinators for the trip to California. And we’ll hear about the struggle to keep bee populations healthy.

Ted Simons: Bees can be pesky and at times threatening but bees are also an important link in our food chain. Producers Adriana Dealba , Brianna Davis, Sierra Theobald and Allison Bailey: introduce us to an Arizona farmer who's crop ensures that we're all fed.

Mark Killian: I don't know a farmer that doesn't thank the good lord every day for bees and what they do for us.

Vincent Gonzales: If the bees were done tomorrow then all the food and vegetables wouldn't be able to give us the fruit. The plant can grow but they will not give us fruit because tla are not pollinated -- they are.

Vincent Gonzales: I am from Mexico. I grew up on a ranch in Halisco. My father was a cattle man. I learned how to work in a ranch but I always had bees by my side. And I started working with bees and little by little we started having more and more bees. Now we are running 5,000 colonies.

Ryan Cosyns: Natural bees are continuing to decline. Beekeeping has become more challenging and the loss rates are sometimes hard to overcome. Bees suffer from a might that gets into the hive. You have to treat for the might routinely and aggressively. If you are not treating for the mite they will damage the colony. There is a bacteria that gets in the digestive track you to be aware as well.

Osman Kaftanoglu: We had 5.5 million colonies in the United States years ago and now I think there is less than 2.5 million colonies in the states. So there is a shortage of bees.

Osman Kaftanoglu: California has about 1 million acres of almond plantation and all the commercial beekeepers take their hives to California in march for the pollination.

Ryan Cosyns: The bees need to be here due to the demand. There is a million acres of almond trees in the ground in California and most require two to two and a half hives per acre and that adds us to a lot of beehives. California doesn't posses enough to keep up with the demand so hives are coming from all across the country. These belong to the Gonzalez. This almond variety requires cross pollination so the bees are here to transfer pollen from one variety of tree to another. They get down in there and get the nectar out and as they get the nectar out it is getting the pollen all over its body and then it flies from tree to tree it disburses that pollen to the other varieties. [speaking in native tongue] [speaking in native tongue]

Mark Killian: So if anybody wants a reason why we need to take care of the bees, when you eat that fruit, that little bee played a major role in making that happen.

Ted Simons: Coming up Friday on Arizona Horizon it's the journalist roundtable a republican challenger to senator Jeff Flake uses this week's softball practice shooting as campaign fodder and this week's shooting incident renews calls for civility in politics. Those stories and more on the journalists' roundtable. If you would like to watch tonight's program again, see any recent edition of Arizona "Horizon" check us out at azpbs.org/horizon. That is it for now. I am Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

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