Almond Growers To Promote Bee Health

Almond Growers To Promote Bee Health

As part of an ongoing commitment to honey bee health, the Almond Board of California (ABC) released Thursday a comprehensive set of  HoneyBeeBest Management Practices(BMPs)  for California’s almond industry.

Advertisement

Developed with a wide array of input from sources including the almond community, beekeepers,researchers, California and U.S. regulators, and chemical registrants, the BMPs represent the ABC’s most extensive educational documents to date to ensure that almond orchards are and remain a safe and healthy place for honeybees. The documents layout simple, practical steps that almond growers can take together with beekeepers and other pollination stakeholders to protect and promote bee health on their land and in the surrounding community.

Today’s release builds on decades of work by the almond industry. Since 1995, the ABC has invested $1.6 million – more than any other crop – on research related to honeybee health, on subjects including Varroa mite and other honeybee pest and disease management, nutrition and honeybee forage, impact of pesticides,and technical assistance for beekeepers. Almond orchards are often honeybees first source of natural pollen after the winter, and honeybee hives routinely leave the almond orchard stronger than they arrived.

“Nobody is a bigger fan of honeybees than almond growers. Without bees, therewould beno 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.”

“With these Best Management Practices, the Almond Board is responding strongly on honeybee 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 BMPs emphasize the importance of communication among everyone involved in pollination, including beekeepers, bee brokers, farm owners/lessees, farm mangers, pest control advisers and applicators.The wide ranging recommendations include information on:

  •  PreparingforHoneybeearrival;
  •  Assessinghive strength and quality;
  •  Providingcleanwater forbees to drink;
  •  Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies to minimize agricultural sprays;
  •  RemovingHoneybees from theorchard;and
  •  Addressingsuspected pesticide-related honeybeelosses

While experts have attributed honeybee health decline to a variety of factors including pests, decreasing sources of natural pollen, and lack of genetic diversity, the BMPs focus significantly on pesticide application practices and considerations during almond bloom– with lessons that apply to the multitude of other crops that rely on honeybees and that use pesticides and fungicides. Among the specific recommendations:

1)  There should be agreement between beekeeper and grower on a pesticide plan that outlines which pest control materials may be used.

2)  Insecticide applications should be avoided at bloom until more is known about their impact on young developing bees in the hive (bee brood).

3)  Tank mixing insecticides with fungicides should be avoided.

4)  If fungicide application is needed during bloom, it should take place in the late afternoon and evening, when bees and pollen are not present. This avoids contaminating pollen with spray materials.

Along with the full Best Management Practices, today’s release includes a Honey Bee Best Management Practices Quick Guide for Almonds,and Applicator/Driver Honey Bee Best Management Practices Quick Guide for Almonds.Theguide forapplicatorsand drivers is available in both English and Spanish to ensuremaximum accessibilityandadoption. Each of the documents is available infullat  www.Almonds.com/BeeBMPs. The new BMPs come just ahead of the annual California Association of Pest Control Advisers conference next week. The Almond Board has also planned a variety of outreach about the BMPs throughout the year to growers, pest control advisers, beekeepers, and other stakeholders.

Source: Almond Board of California