The annual bee migration from the major honey producing areas is the Dakotas, to the almonds fields in California, has begun. A few semi-loads of bees dribble through Casper, Wy in the previous weeks. But almost half the semis coming through here are now carrying bees. I’ll bet almost every hive in the Dakotas goes through Casper. And that’s a lot of hives.
It seems that there are generally fewer hives on each semi. Maybe the hives are heavier and healthier. I hope that’s the case.
When the migration starts, I have mixed emotions. Part of me would just jump at the chance to throw down my current lifestyle and head west with the bees. Much of my energy and youth were spent in commercial beekeeping. But I’m older now and also glad that I don’t have to do it.
I look at the drivers to see if they are awake? Are they beekeeper’s driving their outfits west? Or are they commercial truckers thankful for an unusual load. The people part of beekeeping is one of the most fascinating aspects for me.
And recently my thoughts have turned to the distribution of diseases and pests. These bee outfits migrate out and back every year. Their bees congregate in the biggest beeyard in the world. Pick up every known and unknown pest. And then bring them back to every corner of this nation.
I think of the malady my bees are now battling. And the disappearance of the wild bee population. Coincidence? Migrated tragedy?
I remember unloading one semi-load of bees dropped back in Wyoming. It initially looked like oil had been spilled down the entire length of the flatbed. But a close inspection revealed not oil, but fire ants! They were living between and below most hives. And they didn’t like migrating much. Ouch!
But no problem. California doesn’t much mind if every resident fire ant is hauled out of the state. 😉
And no one in Wyoming knows any better or cares. The bee laws in Wyoming, like many states, were enacted to protect established beekeeper’s turf. Bee disease prevention was the guise under which they were passed into law. It’s ironic to think that the people who promoted the bee laws “to prevent the spread of bee disease”, are now themselves probably the major vector for spreading bee disease.
Anyway, they’re on the move again. Some tired beekeepers. Some soon to be tired truck drivers. And bazillions of bees all trying to get to California without incident. I wish them well.