Food prices could skyrocket, particularly fruits and nuts, due to a shortage of honey bees. Many of California's crops rely heavily on bees for pollination and officials say Kern County is seeing a drop in the number of bees to do the job.
Almonds are a huge part of the agriculture industry, covering about 800,000 acres in the state. With the help from out of state bees, the pollination process will begin in the coming weeks.
Paramount Farming Company Bee Biologist, Dr. Gordon Wardell said 1.6 million bee hives are needed to pollinate California's almond crops. With 400,000 colonies in the state, there just aren't enough to do the job.
Wardell said, "Every almond has to have a honey bee to pollinate to set a nut."
Over the past six years, California's bee population has dropped drastically, causing growers to look elsewhere.
"We get bees from the Dakotas, from the Midwest, from Florida, Louisiana," said Dr. Wardell.
Millions of bees are coming to the Central Valley from all over the United States to help with the pollination process.
Wardell said healthy bees are imperative for pollination. With drought in many parts of the country, along with a mite problem, he said there was a much higher mortality rate.
"They didn't build up as much as they normally would, they didn't make as much honey as they normally would and consequently, the bees weren't as strong as they needed to be going into winter, " Wardell said.
Beekeepers say they're struggling to keep the insects alive. They say as the availability goes down, the cost will go up. Wardell said the need for healthy bees will only get bigger.
Wardell said, "We're steadily increasing our almond population in California and so the demand for bees has been growing every year."
Some beekeepers speculate the higher cost could be passed on to consumers.