A parasitic mite took a heavy toll on bees last year. Many beekeepers lost as much as one half of their hives. This year it appears the losses aren't as great, but they're expected to be significant.
Because almond growers need bees to pollinate their orchards, beekeepers such as Gene Brandi of the Central Valley could receive nearly twice as much in pollination fees this year.
"One hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and fifty dollars range seems to be kind of normal this year. Last year the prices were anywhere from 75 to about a hundred dollars."
The effect of the parasite doesn't necessarily mean there will be a shortage of bees. The higher pollination fees are generating interest from out-of-state beekeepers, so there could be enough of the insects to meet the needs of almond growers.