As you read this, the internet is blowing up with reports about how bad the almond industry is for the honey bee industry. We just did an article on this very subject last week. The popularity of almonds has dramatically changed the beekeeping industry, which has raised some concerns for the honey bees that pollinate these almond groves. The industry has grown so big, in fact, many honey bees are ONLY pollinating almond trees, which some experts believe to be a major factor in declining honey bee populations.
With California being at the forefront of the almond industry, the local community in the state is taking notice of these reports and trying to do something to address this problem as quickly as possible. As such, the California almond community, this week, introduced a 5-point pollinator protection plan. Josette Lewis, Ph.D., the Director of the Agricultural Affairs at the Almond Board of California (ABC), stated, “Protecting and improving honey bee health during the short time that bees are in our orchards is critical to the success of every almond farmer. By working with national pollinator organizations, we are also engaging with partners who impact the health of bees during the other ten months that they spend outside of almonds.”
The plan, as stated above, has five components. They are:
- Announcing a New Partnership
- Educating Farmers and Other Pollination Stakeholders
- Promoting Tools for Improved Communication
- Increasing Floral Diversity On-Farm
- Supporting Bee Health Research
The one part of this plan that has echoed concerns from the critics of the almond growing industry is point four, which should play a significant role in helping the honey bee become less susceptible to the problems the experts believe were brought on specifically by the robust growth of the almond industry.
This aspect of the plan calls on almond growers to plant a variety of other pollination sources within the almond groves to promote more diversity in the bees pollination habits. The plan states, “While almond pollen alone is very nutritious for honey bees, providing all ten of the amino acids their diets require and giving them a strong start to the year, research shows that bees fare even better with increased diversity of pollen sources.” The plan goes on to say this will also help farmers “improve soil health, water infiltration and more.”
For more information about the California Almond Growers Pollination Protection Plan, click here.