For World Bee Day 2020, let’s look back to February during the beautiful almond bloom – and the essential pollinators who transform the blossoms into our favorite nut!
Honey bees are very important to almonds and many other crops grown across the U.S. and around the world. Here in the states, bees kick off their pollinating season with almond bloom from February to March. Like almonds are nutritious for us, almond pollen is nutritious for honey bees. Almond pollen is 25% protein and has the 10 amino acids that the bees’ diets requires1. Thanks to this healthy diet, bee hives routinely leave stronger after visiting during almond bloom .
As the trees blossom, honey bees forage for pollen and nectar in the orchard. When the bees move from tree to tree, they pollinate almond blossoms along the way. Every almond you eat grows from a pollinated almond blossom – all thanks to a hardworking honey bee!
The strength the hives have after almond bloom supports their health as they move on to pollinate over 90 different crops across the nation. In addition, it can help hives deal with challenges they may encounter throughout the year like the varroa mite. After almond bloom, beekeepers then fan out across the U.S., bringing their bees to pollinate crops like sunflowers, apples, blueberries, and citrus and making honey.
Honey bee health is a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of California almond farmers. While bees are essential to producing many of the nutritious foods we love, they are also facing unprecedented challenges. Numerous published research studies point to a complex set of factors including beekeeper hive management practices, inbreeding among bee lines, poor nutrition, lack of forage, exposure to pesticides throughout the year at the many locations that bees travel for pollination services, and pests and diseases (mites, viruses).
To help address challenges in each of these areas, almond farmers and processors have funded more than 125 research projects via the Almond Board of California. A strategic research priority since 1995, the almond community has invested more in bee health than any other crop group2. What’s more, this spring the almond community rolled out a five-point Pollinator Protection Plan, outlining steps being taken on farms to ensure their health during almond bloom and throughout the year. You can learn more about that commitment here.
Given their important role in almond pollination and in the world’s food supply, the almond community is proud to be a partner of the beekeeping industry and strong supporters of honey bee health. If anyone deserves a day to celebrate, its our hardworking pollinator friends. Happy World Bee Day!
1Ramesh Sagili. Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University.
2Gene Brandi. Vice President, American Beekeeping Federation.