I had a lengthy conversation today with Ray my package bee supplier. He was telling me about his year.
California as you know is in the grips of a devastating drought. There is nothing growing unless it is irrigated or a cactus. Beekeepers normally could depend on honey from Yellow Star Thistle for a honey crop. But with the drought, there was no honey crop. He has been feeding his bees for a large part of the summer. A week doesn't go by with out having a tanker truck of bee feed making a delivery.
He did comment that his bees look very nice. Strong colonies and he has been able to keep his mite count low. Without plants blooming he has also been feeding pollen to the bees.
He did move several thousand colonies out of state and the bees he moved did make some alfalfa honey. Not a huge crop but enough to make the colonies heavy and some local pollen.
We talked at length about package bees for next year. He does see an increase coming to package bee and queen prices for the 2015 season. There was some discussion of how much it might be, but he said it was too early to put a number down. Ray said he wanted to tell Wendy and I early so we could pass the information on to our customers that there will be an increase.