Newest resource for Calif. growers: Arizona 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. WE MEET A FARMER WHOSE CROP INSURES THAT WE'RE ALL FED.

MARK KILLIAN: I DON'T KNOW FARMERS THAT DON'T THANK THE GOOD LORD EVERY DAY FOR BEES AND WHAT THEY DO FOR US.

VIDEO: IF THE BEES DIED TOMORROW, ALL OF THE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO GIVE US FOOD. THE PLANT CAN GROW BUT THEY WON'T GIVE US FRUIT BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT POLLINATED. I'M FROM MEXICO. I'M FROM JALISCO, MEXICO. I GREW UP ON A RANCH IN JALISCO. MY FATHER WAS A CATTLEMAN. I LEARNED TO WORK ON A RANCH. I ALWAYS HAD BEES BY MY SIDE. I STARTED WORKING WITH BEES. LITTLE BY LITTLE WE STARTED GROWING, WE STARTED HAVING MORE AND MORE BEES. NOW WE ARE RUNNING 5,000, ALMOST 5,000 COLONIES.

RYAN COSYNS: NATURAL BEES CONTINUE TO DECLINE. BEEKEEPING HAS BECOME MORE CHALLENGING. THE LOSS RATES ARE SOMETIMES HARD TO OVERCOME. BEES SUFFER FROM A MITE THAT GETS IN THE HIVE. YOU HAVE TO TREAT FOR THE MITE VERY ROUTINELY, VERY AGGRESSIVELY. IF YOU DON'T TREAT FOR THE MITE, THE MITE WILL DAMAGE THE COLONIES TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR POLLINATION OR DEAD. THERE IS A BACTERIA THAT GETS IN THE BEES' DIGESTIVE TRACT. THAT ALSO HAS A TREATMENT YOU HAVE TO BE ON TOP OF. THIRDLY, THE BEES NEED TO HAVE GOOD FORAGE, GOOD FOOD.

OSMAN KAFTANOGLU: BEEKEEPING IS IMPORTANT. 55 YEARS AGO, WE HAD 5.5 MILLION COLONIES IN THE UNITED STATES. NOW I THINK THERE IS LESS THAN 2.5 MILLION COLONIES IN THE STATES. THERE IS A SHORTAGE OF BEES. CALIFORNIA HAS ONE MILLION ACRES OF PLANTATION. ALL THE BEEKEEPERS, THE COMMERCIAL BEEKEEPERS TAKE THEIR HIVES TO CALIFORNIA IN FEBRUARY AND MARCH FOR THE POLLINATION OF ALMONDS.

RYAN COSYNS: THE BEES NEED TO BE HERE DUE TO THE DEMAND. THERE ARE A MILLION ACRES OF ALMOND TREES IN THE GROUND IN CALIFORNIA NOW. MOST OF THOSE ACRES REQUIRE TWO AND A HALF HIVES PER ACRE. THAT ADDS UP TO A LOT OF BEEHIVES. CALIFORNIA DOESN'T POSSESS ENOUGH HIVES TO COVER THE DEMAND, SO HIVES ARE COMING FROM ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THIS ALMOND VARIETY REQUIRES CROSS-POLLINATION, SO THE BEES ARE HERE TO TRANSFER POLLEN FROM ONE VARIETY OF TREE TO ANOTHER TO MAKE AN ALMOND. THE BEE'S CLIMBING INSIDE THE FLOWER HERE TO GET DOWN IN THERE AND GET NECTAR OUT, AND AS IT'S GETTING THAT NECTAR OUT IT'S GETTING THIS POLLEN ALL OVER ITS BODY. AS IT FLIES FROM TREE TO TREE IT DISPERSES THAT POLLEN TO THE OTHER VARIETIES.

VIDEO: [SPEAKING SPANISH ]

MARK KILLIAN: SO IF ANYONE WANTS A REASON TO TAKE CARE OF THE BEES, WHEN YOU EAT THAT FRUIT, THAT LITTLE BEE, THAT POLLINATOR, PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE MAKING THAT HAPPEN.

TED SIMONS: AND TUESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," TIME AGAIN FOR THE LATEST SCIENCE NEWS WITH OUR FAVORITE PHYSICIST LAWRENCE KRAUSS. WE'LL LEARN ABOUT A NEW UNIVERSITY CAMPUS OPENING THIS FALL IN SURPRISE. THOSE STORIES TUESDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON." THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

VIDEO: ARIZONA HORIZON IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA P-B-S, MEMBERS OF YOUR P-B-S STATION. THANK YOU.

VIDEO: NEXT TIME ON ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, VINTAGE KANSAS CITY.
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