The Life And Times Of Migratory Honeybees

All over the country during the spring and summer growing season, beehives dot orchards and fields just as the crops begin to bloom. Did you ever wonder where those hives come from? They are supplied by beekeepers all across the country who rent their hives to farmers, and they are carefully transported by specially trained truckers. Read on to see how bees get to their destinations and how important their work is. 

How Do The Hives Travel?

In February, the 800,000-acre almond crop in California starts to bloom, with each acre requiring two hives of bees for pollination. Every year more than 31 billion honeybees pollinate the almonds, but the bees' journey starts long before that. As early as October, late at night when all the bees are safely in their hives, specially trained truckers load over one million hive boxes onto thousands of flat-bed trailers. This begins a journey that will carry the hives to California and then all across the country where the bees are responsible for pollinating over one-third of our food each year.

How Are the Bees Transported?

After the boxes are loaded, huge nets are draped over them to keep the bees inside. Drivers travel nonstop throughout the day so that the wind circulates through the hives and keeps them cool. At night, sprinklers spray them with water to cool them off.

Where Do The Bees Go?

The almond crop in California is the largest job of the year for many specialty bee carriers. After that, the hives are split and new queens introduced to keep them from swarming. Hives are then transported to places like Florida for the citrus crop, Maine for the blueberry crop and Wisconsin for the cranberry crop.

How Important are Migratory Bees?

Seventy percent of the crops that provide over 90 percent of our food are pollinated by bees. In North America alone, 95 kinds of fruits rely on bees for pollination. These 10 crops are so dependent on pollinating bees that they would disappear without them:

  • Apples
  • Almonds
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Avocados
  • Cucumbers
  • Onions
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Pumpkins

What Happens to the Bees in the Winter?

After the growing season, beekeepers move their bees to warmer locales such as Florida, California and Texas to overwinter. Idaho has a system of temperature-controlled potato cellars where bees are also kept.

Bees are fragile creatures, and without specially trained truckers to see that they make the journey safely, many crops would be in peril. Trucking companies that transport this economically essential cargo, like Frasier Transport Inc, are almost as important as the bees themselves.