Family owned Browning’s Honey Co., based in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is one of the largest beekeeping firms in the U.S. With its operations in Idaho and North Dakota, the company ships honeybees to California’s Central Valley to pollinate the state’s almond crop.
The Pacific Standard highlights the process:
Getting the bees to California isn’t even half the battle. Almond trees bloom for about two weeks out of the year, and before they do, the bees need to be distributed, two hives to an acre, across the valley’s almond orchards. Before that happens, beekeepers spend their days scouting orchards-tying ribbons on trees, annotating satellite maps, and marking GPS coordinates-so they can return at night to deliver the hives while the bees are resting.
According to the Department of Agriculture, more than $15 billion of value is added to crops pollinated by honeybees, a species that was once in decline but is now experiencing a boom that has presented opportunities as well as challenges.