Join the hive mind as millions of bees come to California for almond pollination

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Bees are brought in from Montana, Idaho, Texas, and Florida during California's almond pollination season. Photo by Adam Novicki.

"Almonds are the Super Bowl," says beekeeper Adam Novicki, who operates Therese & Adam Farms along with his wife. Novicki says that producing honey used to account for two-thirds of his business while the other third was hive rental. That has reversed itself. These days, Novicki can rent out his bees during California's almond pollination season for $200 a hive. Why? Because an almond grove needs two hives per acre and California has 1.3 million acres of almond trees. The Golden State doesn't have enough bees to do all that work, growers truck them in from Montana, Idaho, Texas and Florida during pollination season, which is happening right now. It's a complicated process that requires people to drive all day, almost without stopping. The same bees travel to Maine for blueberry pollination and to North Dakota for honey production. Along with the boom in the bee rental business, hive thefts have become a growing problem.

"It used to be two-thirds of your income was honey and one-third pollination. That has reversed itself," says beekeeper Adam Novicki of Therese and Adam Farms. Photo by Therese McLaughlin.