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Nuts to that

(article, Kim Carlson)

Russ Parsons shed light recently on the ways in which colony collapse disorder has affected the almond industry in a lengthy feature in the Los Angeles Times. 

Almond industry, you ask? According to Parsons,

bq.California produces almost 80 percent of the world's almonds, grossing more than $2 billion in 2007. The state's almond exports are more than twice the value of its wine exports.

Who knew? Meanwhile, colony collapse disorder, as many of us do know, affects honey-bee populations. According to Parsons, about a quarter of all hives have been wiped out over the past couple of years — and no one seems to know exactly why exactly.

So, as supply decreases, up goes demand:

bq.So far, the main effect of the shortage of bees has been skyrocketing prices for their services. The price has gotten so high that a flurry of honeybee rustling has occurred in the valley. Only five or six years ago, farmers could rent hives for $30 or $40 each. That's still the price for most crops, but today for almonds, the increased competition means pollination costs $140 to $150 per hive and sometimes more.

No word on how much of that increased cost will be passed on to us almond-lovers.