So, come almond-tree flowering season, which begins in February, apiarists load up their hives on flatbeds and truck them to San Joaquin Valley. While this pilgrimage may be necessary to keep churning out cheap almonds, it also creates a melting pot of pathogens. And the moving and trucking itself could negatively impact the bees, too.
This puzzle is a hard one; scientists and ranchers have been studying it for 5 years now:
- Can We Count on Native Bees to Replace Honeybees?
- Whatever Happened to Whatever Happened to the Bees?
- Mysterious Bee Disappearance Could Disrupt U.S. Agriculture
- Cellphones Aren’t Killing the Bees
The most optimistic analysis is that, now that people are aware of the problem, they are at least working harder at taking proper care of the bees and keeping them alive.
Update: It's not just the bees who are suffering: here's an interesting story about butterfly population change.