Honey Bee Colony Density and Almond Nut Set

A recent trend has been to reduce honey bee colony density for pollination down below the standard practice of two per acre. A recent study conducted in Kern County and led by Dr. Frank Eischen (USDA ARS, Tucson) is reaffirming the value of higher colony densities. The study paired orchards with one of the pair provided with one-half to one colony per acre more than the other, resulting in significantly higher pollination rates. In general, the lower-density pairs compared one colony to two colonies per acre with a strength of eight frames of adult bees, and the highest-density pair compared two colonies to three colonies per acre with a strength of six frames of adult bees.