So I walk into my favorite Armenian grocery store, looking for some of that great Labneh cheese, kind of a spreadable yoghurt, but with zero grams of sugar, good for diabetics like me.
I ask Sam Sesquipedalian, the loquacious owner, how goes business, and he says, “Not good, not bad, but the best news is from my cousin Pete Prelapsarian, who has farmed almonds over in Merced since before the beginning of time.”
“You’ve heard of colony collapse disorder? Where half of the beehives needed to pollinate the trees had their bees die off? The almond boys had been afraid they would be pushed out of business. No bees, no almonds. But it seems the bees are back this year.”
“Yeah,” I said, eyeing the kalamata olives over by the feta and nabulsi cheeses, “I read The Economist magazine, which they insist on calling a newspaper. They said over the last 50 years the amount of almond acreage has increased from 100,000 acres to 700,000, supplying 80% of the world’s almonds, and a third of the beehives in America have been trucked in to meet the shortage.”
It seems falling demand for almonds, due to the weak economy and the drought, which means less water for farmers, encouraged them to cut back on production, bringing the bee-to-tree ratio into balance.
“But,” I ask Sam, pulling the brim of my fedora lower, “Has anyone figured out what was happening to the bees?” “Nope.” says Sam, “It beats me, but there are a bunch of scientists working on it.”