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Protecting Pollinators: Program Works To Register Money-Making Beehives

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It's almond blossom time, and that means bees are getting busy. It's also when thieves strike, stealing hives right out of the orchards.

Almonds generate $5 billion in revenue for the state, so protecting these pollinators is paramount.

Twenty-eight-year-old Sam Foster is a third generation beekeeper and owns BZ-Bee Pollination.

"I love the bees, love being outside, helping with our community and agriculture," Foster said.

There are more than 500,000 acres of almonds in Fresno, Sacramento, and San Joaquin Counties. At least two hives per acre are required for proper pollination.

When almond trees are in bloom, Foster's business flourishes. BZ-Bee has 23,000 hives in California and they all come back to the Sacramento region for the almond pollination. Between labor, syrup, and supplements during the off-season, keeping a colony can cost a lot.

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Foster says you have anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 in a hive, that's why he is registering his hives as part of the "Bee Safe" program, which took effect on the first of the year.

Yolo County Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Jack Dewit explained beekeepers must register their hives before 2020 or face fines. The idea is to protect colonies from theft and disease.

Bee owners and law enforcement officials are collaborating and communicating to protect these honey, and money, makers in a growing industry.

"With an increase of almonds per acre comes an increase of hives, you have to have more hives to produce a good crop," Foster said.

The program supplements the BEE WARE program that was established a couple years ago, registering hive locations in an online database so pest control operations can plot crop dusting patterns without harming the bees.

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