Tomorrow, Honeydew leaves for California.

Although we talk a lot about the best honey you’ve never tasted, pollination services are an equally large part of the business of the Glacier County Honey Co.  We contract with almond growers in California to pollinate their crops – almonds are California’s #1 cash crop, and almonds are self-incompatible and need cross pollination with other almond varieties to be a financially viable agricultural product.  Honeybees are the preferred pollinators of almonds because they are … I can’t think of the word, but it essentially means that honeybees are single minded, focused pollinators.

When a bee leaves the hive and sees an almond bloom ready for pollination, then she will only pollinate that blossom and other almond blossoms during her foraging trip – she will not be distracted by dandelions or peaches or what-have-you.  Very Type A of honeybees, I think.  And very favorable for the almond grower, who is, after all, paying the beekeeper for almond pollination services, and doesn’t give a whit about the dandelions.

Of course, my three sentence explanation of honeybee pollination of almonds just touches the surface of this humongous industry – I’ve learned at beekeeping conventions that over a million hives of honeybees are required to pollinate California almonds each year, the largest pollination project in the world.  Hence, Honeydew’s annual sojourn to Northern Cali – there simply aren’t enough bees in California to meet that demand.

So, tomorrow Honeydew will get in the 1 ton and make the trip to California.  He’ll be back briefly next week to pick up the 2 ton, and drive it down there, too.  Our bees were shipped down to California last fall, and he’ll spend the rest of this month, and some of next, working through our hives and making sure each is healthy and able to keep up with the demands of the almond pollination season.

Then, he’ll start moving hives into the almonds in preparation for their bloom, a gorgeous pink and white time that lasts only a few weeks.

Afterwards, he’ll remove the bees from the almonds and start requeening each colony, and perhaps selling some extra bees along the way.  In mid-to-late April, Honeydew will get back in the 1 ton and drive back to Montana.  A week later, he’ll fly back to California and repeat the process with the 2 ton.  Hopefully, It’ll will not beat him home.

There aren’t words to describe how my heart will break tomorrow, and especially next week, when my husband turns the key in the truck’s ignition.  I will remind myself how lucky I am that he is not shipping off to Afghanistan, that he is able and willing to make us a good living, and that I won’t have to pick up his socks from next to the hamper each morning.  But the truth is, of course, that I don’t really mind picking up his socks, or grilling him boring quesadillas without any fun accoutrements for lunch, or turning a blind eye to the piles of debris he creates in every room of the warehome.

Safe travels, my love.

2011.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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