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BEEKEEPING LEARNING CENTER => REPRINT ARTICLE ARCHIVES => Topic started by: Jerrymac on January 09, 2009, 11:57:26 am

Title: Bees told to go
Post by: Jerrymac on January 09, 2009, 11:57:26 am

Tangerine growers tell beekeepers to buzz off
By TRACIE CONE, Associated Press Writer

FRESNO, Calif. – Is it trespassing when bees do what bees do in California's tangerine groves?

That is the question being weighed by state agriculture officials caught between beekeepers who prize orange blossom honey and citrus growers who blame the bees for causing otherwise seedless mandarin oranges to develop pips.

"Both sides are unwilling to give any ground, and both have valid points," said Jerry Prieto, the former Fresno County agricultural commissioner who has spent six months mediating the dispute.

The fight comes amid a worldwide consumer taste shift toward seedless grapes, watermelons and tangerines — at the same time the nation's struggling bee colonies look for winter food.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is scheduled to issue draft regulations this month that will require beekeepers to register their locations with county agricultural commissioners by March 1 so growers can monitor hives within two miles of their groves. If bees are too close, growers can ask beekeepers to move and hope they comply.

"But they won't have to move," said Rayne Pegg, deputy secretary of legislation and policy for the CDFA.

Absent a method of resolving disputes, Prieto predicted: "This is going to end up in court."

Mega-grower Paramount Citrus has already sent letters to beekeepers near the company's Kern County clementine groves threatening legal action and promising to seek "compensation for any and all damages caused to its crops, as well as punitive damages" if seeds develop. Company officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The new regulations would affect Kern, Tulare, Fresno and Madera counties in the southern San Joaquin Valley, where many orange growers converted to easy-to-peel tangerines. The fruit's California acreage was expanded from 24,000 in 2005 to 31,392 in 2008 to compete with imports from Spain and the Middle East.

Tangerines and other normally seedless mandarins do not need bees to move pollen from the male to female parts of the flower in the process known as pollination. But if bees cross-pollinate the crop with the pollen of other fruit, mandarins develop undesireable seeds.

Almond trees on the west side of the valley, on the other hand, need lots of bees to pollinate. For the February pollination season, almond growers hire beekeepers from around the country to bring tens of thousands of hives to California, home to 70 percent of the world's supply.

As almond blossoms drop in late March, citrus growers say, beekeepers relocate hives to make orange blossom honey before heading to the Midwest for spring clover season.

Some growers, who by law must ban spraying for citrus mites and other pests when bees are present, say the bees are an increasing burden.

"We've coexisted with them, but we don't need them," said Joel Nelson, executive director of California Citrus Mutual, a trade association. "Now we're trying to adapt to changing consumer demands, and we're hamstrung."

Beekeepers say that, with development in the state's agricultural regions, there already are a limited number of places to take the bees for feeding.

"Our winter losses are increasing (because of colony collapse), and part of the problem is finding places to put bees where they have access to natural food, and citrus is part of that," said Gene Brandi, a Los Banos beekeeper and legislative liaison for the California State Beekeepers Association.

Chris Lange, a grower from Woodlake in Tulare County, recently converted 32 of his 1,600 acres of citrus groves on Beresford Ranches to the more profitable mandarin oranges, which he will start harvesting at the end of January.

"We already have an idea of where we'll find the seeds," said Lange, lamenting that most of his crop could wind up as juice. "You can't grow the crop for the juice market, you have to grow for the premium crop or you won't recover your costs."

During discussions seeking a compromise, beekeepers suggested that mandarin growers net their crops to keep out bees. Mandarin growers asked beekeepers to reduce hive density so bees do not have to fly far to compete for food.

Both sides said no.

"The ag industry is being forced to weigh which side should have a stronger case," said Pegg, of the agriculture department, "and that's a difficult thing for us to decide. We're just not going to make anyone happy."

Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Keith13 on January 09, 2009, 12:18:34 pm
Jerry, I saw something on this before. It was a picture of a tangerine orchard completely covered in nets to prevent the bees from gettin to the blooms. What a stupid move where do you think the strain of tangerine came from in the first place? Bees duh

Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: KONASDAD on January 09, 2009, 12:40:14 pm
This was inevitable. I also think the beekeepers will lose. Hived bees are "domesticated" and therefore you are responsible for them and they are trespassing. No different than a cow that gets lose. There will be a proof isue as to whose bees they are, but it wont prevent the suit. the court will jus apportion damages by percentage of market share owned by the beek.
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Scadsobees on January 09, 2009, 01:15:54 pm
I didn't notice anything from the Almond association.

They are the ones that need to be in the middle, they are the only reason that many bees are there in the first place.

And they are going to be hurting just as bad as the beekeepers if this goes badly for the bees.

Regardless, there does need to be compromise.  I don't know what the demands are, but the mandarin growers will need to do something as well as the beeks.  Plant a barrier of flowering trees around your mandarins.  keep fewer bees in the area.

Neither side is 100% right.  The courts will just screw things up.
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Jessaboo on January 09, 2009, 01:28:24 pm
Wait a minute - the article says that the mandarins only develop seed if "... if bees cross-pollinate the crop with the pollen of OTHER FRUIT..." (caps mine)

Am I reading this too literally or does this mean that a mandarin has to be crossed with, let's say, a naval to develop seeds and if that is the case doesn't that sound much more like the behavior of native bees than honey bees?

I mean, don't honeys generally work one pollen/nectar source in a fairly systematic manner as opposed to natives that will often take pollen/nectar from one flower on this plant, one on another, etc.

I think I would use the argument in my defense...

- Jess

Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: KONASDAD on January 09, 2009, 01:51:51 pm
Yes honeybeees predomintely focus on one source, but rarely to exclusivity. As such, cross pollination would accur. I guess, you could seperate citrus fruits to reduce cross pollination, but it would only diminsh, not eliminate.

And yes, wild pollinators must figure in somewhere.
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Jerrymac on January 09, 2009, 02:00:19 pm
And yes, wild pollinators must figure in somewhere.

Well, you just poison them out of existence.  :roll:
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Big John on January 09, 2009, 04:12:18 pm
It is a bad situation when a person is told he can't keep something on his on land, I know around this area if the beeks were told we could not have bees their would be a lot of wild swarms loose in the wild  :evil:
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Jessaboo on January 13, 2009, 01:36:25 pm
Just got this in my inbox from Bee Culture's e-zine - at least someone has some sense!


California: Mandarin Grower: "Don't Blame the Bees"
A local grower responded to the growing debate between California tangerine growers and its nearby beekeepers. Recently, growers near Fresno said the bees have been trespassing, cross-pollinating between the seeded and seedless variety of citrus fruit in nearby orchards.

Steve Pilz at Hillcrest Orchards in Penryn, California, said first of all, the proper term was no longer "tangerines," and that the proper terminology among the fruit's growers was "mandarins".

Pilz then said there were about 300 bee hives in a half mile radius near his 12-acre orchard but he'd never had a problem with cross pollination until about three years ago. In 2007, He lost about 30 percent of his seedless "Satsuma Mandarins" to cross-pollination.

"It affects what people are expecting," Pilz said. "When parents give the fruit to their kids and it has seeds, they don't come back for more."

However, unlike his Fresno counter parts, Pilz didn't blame the bees, he blamed the grower who moved in and planted the seeded variety near his 12-acres.

 "We need the bees more than the worry of seeds," Pilz said.

Pilz said the pollen from the seeded varieties was only viable for up to three miles according to the Farm and Home Advisor from the University of California Davis, so it had to be a grower nearby.

In the last two years, Pilz said he'd had less of a problem with seeds in his fruit. In order for the cross pollinating to occur, Pilz trees must bloom at the same time as the problem-causing seeded trees. Pilz believed his trees were now blooming on a different schedule than the nearby seeded trees, but that could change year by year.

Even if Pilz knew who the seeded fruit grower was, there's not a lot he could do. But, he would like to talk to them. "They might not know they are causing the problem," Pilz said. "I would just like to inform them."

Pilz's trees have been there for more than 60 years and it was only recently that his mandarins began producing seeds. Pilz said it's just another sign of the times.

"It's part of nature. Global warming," Pilz said. "The consumer shouldn't worry about a couple of seeds."
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Keith13 on January 13, 2009, 02:04:08 pm
Thats an interesting article Jessaboo. I think this dilemma has a lot to do with America's kneejerk reactions to problems, everyone pointed to the bee right away instead of doing a little digging to see the bee actually might not be responsible, that maybe it was the introduction of seeded varieties near the other seedless orchards.

Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Scadsobees on January 13, 2009, 03:04:08 pm
I think blaming it on global warming right after blaming a nearby grower is more silly than blaming it on the bees... :roll:
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Jessaboo on January 13, 2009, 06:08:08 pm
Scads -

When I reread this I see your point. When I first read it, I thought what he was saying is that his trees are blooming the same time as the seeded variety and that doesn't usually happen so global warming is causing the change of bloom but then the seeded trees are causing the cross pollination issue - it's not the bees fault that the two are planted so close together.

It is not the most well-written article - I will have to search and see if maybe they edited this down from a longer story published somewhere else where we could get a better sense of context.

- Jess
Title: Re: Bees told to go
Post by: Jessaboo on January 27, 2009, 04:23:00 pm
Now I know why we have this guy  :deadhorse:

This is verbatim from an insert I got with my honeybell oranges from Cushman's today:

"And now about HoneyBells and seeds...Most HoneyBells (about 80%) are seedless. But if some of yours have seeds, blame the bees. (We are not making this up).
Sometimes the honeybees pick up pollen from the seeded varieties of oranges and grapefuit growing in nearby groves and carry it to our HoneyBell trees. The result is seeds in some of our HoneyBells.
We've had long talks with the bees about this. We've even tried to sign no-seed treaties with them. We've gone so far as to have the birds talk to the bees, but sometimes...well, you know how the birds and the bees are...Luckily the seeds don't change the delectable sweetness and extraordinary juiciness of your unforgettable HoneyBells, The World's Only Limited Edition Fruit."

Wow. I'd like to think that ordinary folks aren't that uptight about a seed or two in a piece of fruit, but obviously I'm wrong. Really what gets me tho is the "blame the bees" line. I know I'm being touchy but it just really rubs me the wrong way.

And you don't want to get a beekeeper mad....

- Jess