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Millions of Yakima bees heading to California for almond season

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YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.- Can you picture hundreds of millions of of bees all in one place? Yakima beekeeper Randon Hodges is one of thousands of beekeepers sending them off to California pollinating almonds for the winter months.

"The almonds take about 80% of the commercial bee keeper's bees in the United States," said Owner of Double R Honey Farms Randon Hodges.

Hodges alone has 3,000 colonies, each of them holding nearly 75,000 bees. If you do the math that's 225 million bees.

So why ship them to California? Hodges says there isn't any use for them here in Yakima during this time of year because there is nothing to pollinate. If fact, he says keeping the bees active year-round helps for a better pollinating cycle when then come back to the area.

When they do arrive, Hodges says they have a lot of work to do.

"I pollinate a little bit of each fruit up here. Apricots, peaches, pears, cherries, apples," said Hodges.

That's just listing a few. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports at least 130 fruit and vegetable crops depend on insects for pollination. Here in Yakima County, Hodges says bees are especially needed with how much agriculture we produce.

Hodges says without them, your favorite fruit or vegetable wouldn't be so easy to get your hands on.

"There's not enough wild bees out there nowadays because of colony collapse disorder, pesticides, and there's a list that is killing the bee's off. If we don't have the bees then we won't have fruit," said Hodges.

Hodges says when the bees return in March, they will pollinate local fruits and vegetables until July.

If you have a bee swarm forming outside of your home, there are beekeeping services that will come and take them. Double R Honey Farms offers that service, you can reach them at (208) 412-9011.

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