In an effort to continue a mutually beneficially arrangement with nature's yellow and black pollinators, the Almond Board of California earlier this month unveiled Honey Bee Best Management Practices for the state's Almond Industry.
The BMPs, which are the result of a team effort among the almond community, beekeepers, researchers, California and United States regulators, and chemical registrants, outline specific guidelines to ensure that almond orchards in the state continue to protect and promote bee health.
“Nobody is a bigger fan of honey bees than almond growers. Without bees, there would be no almonds. And without almonds, bees would lose a vital source of nutritious natural pollen,” said Richard Waycott, CEO of the Almond Board of California. “These Best Management Practices are another significant milestone in our decades-long commitment to protect bee health and preserve that mutually beneficial relationship.”
As a result of these practices, honey bees can continue relying on almond orchards as their first source of natural pollen after winter, as well as leave almond orchards stronger than when they arrived.
With an underlying emphasis on communication among everyone involved in the pollination process, these practical steps include information on preparing for honey bee arrival, assessing hive strength and quality, providing clean water for bees to drink, using Integrated Pest Management strategies to minimize agricultural sprays, removing honey bees from the orchard, and addressing suspected pesticide-related honey bee losses.
Among various practices, this document focuses significantly on pesticide application and considerations during almond bloom. The BMPs make a number of recommendations, including a working agreement between the beekeeper and grower regarding a pesticide plan and avoiding the application of insecticides during almond bloom.
“With these Best Management Practices, the Almond Board is responding strongly on honey bee health and, in particular, pesticide use and considerations during bloom,” said Eric Mussen, University of California Davis Extension apiculturist emeritus. “Their recommendations actually go far beyond the almond orchard, providing important insights for all crops when it comes to promoting honey bee health.”
The newly released BMPs are the result of decades of work by the almond industry. For nearly 20 years, the Almond Board of California has invested approximately $1.6 million on research related to honey bee health.
To access the BMPs in full, visit Almonds.com/BeeBMPs.