In honor of National Pollinator Week, it is important to recognize the mutually beneficial relationship between almonds and honey bees that enables both to survive and thrive. Without a healthy bee population to pollinate our blossoms, there would be no almonds and without almond blossoms, bees would lose their first major natural source of food in the spring that makes them stronger after a long winter.
Given their importance to the California Almond community, growers take their responsibility for the health of these tiny, hard-working pollinators very seriously. On behalf of the industry, Almond Board of California funds extensive third-party research to investigate and find solutions to honey bee health, along with collaborating with many other groups who share the same goal.
Almond Board-funded research focuses on finding solutions in four main areas believed to have the most impact on honey bee health – lack of natural forage, Varroa mites that pass viruses and diseases, pesticides that can weaken bees, and genetics and breeding issues that leave bees more susceptible to the other hazards.
The Almond Board of California has invested more in this area than any other crop group with an ongoing commitment to honey bee health research since 1995. This dedication to research and solutions has led to several breakthroughs in improving honey bee health. Because bees depend on variety in their diet for optimum health, the Almond Board helped support development of an improved nutritional supplement that beekeepers use to ensure that bees get the range of nutrients they need in the late summer and fall when natural sources of pollen are at low levels. We also encourage almond growers to sow blooming plants as “bee pasture,” providing longer-term food sources for honey bees, and to provide clean water throughout their orchards to support bee health.
We work closely with our growers to ensure responsible, careful use of pesticides in their orchards and virtually no neonicotinoids are used. Because honey bees forage beyond our orchards, we also collaborate with other farmers and pollination stakeholders to help reduce bee pesticide exposure. The Almond Board’s Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been instrumental in improving both of these factors. Additionally, the Honey Bee BMPs continue to be extended both within the California Almond community and to the larger agricultural community – many of whom rely on and benefit from honey bees and other pollinators.