National Geographic : 1993 May
sugar laced with an antibiotic on the top edge of the frames. Bees that eat it won't contract a bacterial infection called Ameri can foulbrood. Besides spending substantial time and money keeping their hives healthy, bee keepers must hustle to find good places to put their bees-flowering pastures like this Sierra site where the bees can find food. "Locations," they're called in the trade. "Locations are the most critical thing in this business," beekeeper Jim Robertson tells me at his home in Dos Palos in the San Joaquin Valley. "And the people who let you put your bees on their property, they're nice people. That's all there is to it." Jim walks with a cowboy's saddle-sore stride. He drives his 3,000 hives around Nevada, Montana, and central California, where suburban sprawl is chewing up good bee locations. As a result, Jim regularly beats the bushes, asking landowners to allow him to put hives on their property. The answers vary, according to his wife, Ferrying hives with aforklift, Vince Vazza positions his bees to pollinate a cherry orchard near Oregon's Columbia River (left). Farmers insist the bees arrive just as the cherry buds burst, so Vince monitors the trees to ensure on-time delivery. Months later such diligence bears fruit.