New tool improves beekeepers’ overwintering odds

A honey bee buzzes around a sunflower. You can see the build-up of pollen on her rear leg, in what is called a pollen basket. This is how she stores pollen. When she brings the pollen back to the hive, the house bees press the pollen and make bee bread, which is the protein used to feed the nurse bee and immature bees. PHOTO PEGGY GREB

TUCSON, Ariz. — A new tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service can predict the odds that honey bee colonies overwintered in cold storage will be large enough to rent for almond pollination in February.

Identifying which colonies will not be worth spending dollars to overwinter can improve beekeepers’ bottom line.

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