Almond Update: Communication Key to Getting Most Out of Honeybees During Bloom

Brian German Almond Update, News from our Sponsors

Growers are getting ready for the coming bloom, working with service providers to prepare honeybees for their deployment into orchards. Chief Scientific Officer for the Almond Board of California (ABC), Josette Lewis explained that pollination services can be upwards of 15 percent of the annual cost of production. Maintaining good communication with beekeepers and providing hospitable environments will help growers maximize the value of that investment.


“You want to make sure there’s water either near some irrigation equipment or canals or buckets of water to make sure those bees get plenty of water while they’re waiting to go in the orchard or then while they’re in the orchard,” said Lewis. “Also, when you’re looking at the location, if you can buffer them from any pesticide or treated areas, that’s a really important way to make sure you’re keeping those bees safe.”

Growers are also encouraged to provide ample access for trucks to be able to deliver the beehives. Placing the hives near other flowering plants will provide the bees with other sources of nutrition. Bees will have more effective performance if hives are placed in areas with eastern or southern exposure to maximize the amount of sunlight hives are exposed to. “Bees won’t really come out of their hive until the temperatures warm up so if they’re getting the morning sun and early rays, that will get your bees out there earlier working a longer day,” Lewis noted.

Communication between growers and beekeepers is also important in relation to orchard activities such as the application of fungicides. There are also legal responsibilities that beekeepers and producers need to abide by. Farmers will need to provide 48-hour notification when an application of a material that may impact honeybees will be sprayed within a one-mile radius of beehives.

“[BeeWhere] is a downloadable app and there’s a web-based version. That’s the easiest way to comply with the law that beekeepers need to mark the location of their hives,” said Lewis. “That is a legal responsibility that they have and BeeWhere is software that the Almond Board among many others has invested in to make that process easy.”

ABC has a Honeybee Best Management Practices guide for California growers.

Listen to Lewis’ interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West