Bees, Almond Pollination, and Blue Diamond®
Bees and Blue Diamond®
Plants and pollinators (bees and other insects) have developed very intimate associations over time and pollination is a necessary part of the reproductive success of many plants. Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred to the female reproductive organs of a plant, thereby enabling fertilization to take place. Without this step, there would be no almonds in the world!
For almonds, the honey bee is the main pollinator of the almond flower that produces our almonds in our almond trees. At Blue Diamond®, we love our honey bees and want to help protect and nourish them so we have happy trees and a healthy crop of almonds. Therefore, we have teamed up with Project Apis m to support honey bee health and conservation efforts. Project Apis m’s mission is to fund and direct research to enhance the health and vitality of honey bee colonies while improving crop production. One of their biggest projects is to supply specialized seed packs to almond growers so that the growers can provide year round nourishment to honey bees!
Did you know bees need water as well as pollen from flowers to stay healthy and productive? Many times bees will have to fly a long way from their hive to find water during almond growing season. That’s why Blue Diamond® worked with Project Apis m this past bloom season to pilot a program called “Water for Bees”. Project Apis m provided guidance for us to create tubs of water with burlap on the top which acts as a landing pad for the bees while they take a drink (we don’t want our bees to drown!).
We think our program was a success and plan on continuing our work with Project Apis m to scale up the program for our bloom season next year to have more growers participate to make sure our bees don’t go thirsty.
If you’re interested, here are some of the guidelines, developed by Project Apis m, that our participating growers adhered to during our pilot:
- Place water near hives as soon as they arrive.
- Use new containers or ones that have been thoroughly cleaned out
- A proper “landing” area is essential for successful water collection, so bees don’t drown.
- Burlap, fastened by clothespins, is draped over the sides allowing water to wick up the sides.
- Change out water as needed.
We recommend about a half-gallon for each hive for the duration of pollination. Which is roughly equal to:
o One 55 gallon drum for every 100 hives or,
o One 5 gallon bucket for every 10 hives
- Dead and decaying organic matter leaches nutrients into the water that bees need
- Depending on the needs of the hives and time of year bees prefer water with sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.