The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) operates 16 agricultural inspection stations along our state’s borders (interactive map here), and every year our vehicle inspectors stop thousands of plants, fruit, insects, pathogens and other suspicious critters from making it across that line. There are some things that we want to welcome in, though – and bees are right at the top of that list (at least as far as farmers are concerned). Every year, more than a million beehives are trucked into the golden state to help pollinate almonds, fruit trees and dozens of other crops. Any farmer will tell you: we couldn’t do it without them.
Like most any creature, bees need water – especially after a lengthy and windblown drive across the desert. That’s why the apiary industry (that’s beekeepers for the rest of us) is coming up with funding and working with CDFA to help us upgrade or install relatively simple but important watering systems at a few of our border stations, where the bulk of the beehives come into California. The system is already in place in Blythe along I-10, and we’re working on upgrading Vidal (CA Hwy 62), Needles (I-40), Yermo (I-15), Benton, (US Hwy 6), and Truckee (I-80).
It’s mostly a matter of assessing the current systems and expanding them to include additional hose bibs at intervals (except for Vidal, which would require a portable system), allowing truck drivers to hook up and provide water to the bees. The water keeps the colonies cool and help keep the bees within the hives so they can make the next leg of their trip. It’s a relatively simple step that will help keep our beehives healthy as they prepare for their annual visit to California. Kudos to the folks at the California State Beekeepers Association (CSBA), Project Apis m (PAM), the Almond Board of California and the California State Apiary Board for finding the funds and working with CDFA to make this happen.