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Honey Bee

Why are millions of bees being shipped to California? Hint: It's not all about the honey.

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BY AMICIA RAMSEY, KMPH

MADERA, Calif. (CIRCA via KMPH) — Millions of bees are now spread out across almond orchards in California's Central Valley as part of the world's largest controlled pollination.

Central Valley Beekeeper Association President Jason Kuyper says there aren't enough honeybees in the Central Valley, and beekeepers from out of state are used as resources to help in almond season.

"There is no way we can maintain 2 million beehives in the state of California. We have one of the lowest percentages of beehives that are maintained throughout the year because we have a lot of drought and other issues to deal with," said Kuyper.

Which cereal are you?

Commercial beekeeper Mike Tolmachoff purchased 1,300 beehives, each of them holding up to 60,000 honey bees from Florida. He wasted no time to unpack hundreds of boxes filled with millions of bees. Tolmachoff says he lost up to 80 percent his bee colonies this winter to factors he says were beyond his control. He says bees can be eaten by parasites, get diseases or be killed by pesticides.

"What keeps me going is passion. God created this little insect that does so much for us. Without this insect, we wouldn't have all this food we enjoy," said Tolmachoff.

To make up for his loss, Tolmachoff bought hundreds of queen bees to get his colonies going again and fulfill his contract with almond growers. Without honey bees, the beekeeper says the U.S. would effectively lose one-third its crops.

"Bees are really vital for our food supply throughout the nation. Almond crops are vital to the Valley. We are supplying 90 percent of our almonds to the nation and the world," said Kuyper.

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