Rain keeps bees at bay

    With more than three inches of rain this month and more on its way, farmers say this weather has out-stayed its welcome.

    After a month of rain and more rain, June is expected to stay soggy. Farmers say it could be too much of a good thing. (Photos: Todd Vachon)

    Listen:

    [audio:090619kgrain.mp3]

    J J White Cranberry farm in South Jersey is a few hundred acres of cranberry vines in full bloom. Millions of light pink flowers speckle the bog, ready to be pollinated. But the farm’s manager, Joe Darlington, says the cool, rainy weather has kept the bees at bay…

    A lone bumblebee tends to a field of cranberry flowers.
    A lone bumblebee tends to a field of cranberry flowers.
    Darlington: It’s really getting us nervous. The honey bees have been in now for at least a full week maybe two weeks and they haven’t had an opportunity to work more than an afternoon or two in that time which is really behind…We’re hoping that if the weather switch is thrown and we move to sunny, dry weather they’ll go to town and they’ll cover it. But if we keep getting this kind of weather – and it’s projected for the next five days or more last I saw – we may start to suffer pollination loss.

    Without pollination, the plants won’t grow fruit. The USDA reports that forty percent of the soil in New Jersey is excessively wet, and the rains have kept farmers out of the field for planting and hay harvest. Joe Darlington says the upside is that he can cut back on irrigation.

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