Honeybee Forage Program Helps Bees And Growers

Almond grower Mike Silveira doesn’t mind honeybee forage between his almond trees, because it builds soil health in addition to helping bees.
Photo: Christi Heintz

The number of honeybees necessary to pollinate California’s almond crop is staggering — 1.7 million colonies, according to Christi Heintz, executive director of the nonprofit organization Project Apis m (PAm).

Started in 2006, PAm’s goal is to help infuse money into bee research in order to solve some of honeybees’ many challenges, and to help beekeepers and growers better manage their honeybee colonies.

While developing some best management practices, the PAm team began to realize just how important nutrition is when it comes to bee health.

“When bees are properly nourished, just like humans, they’re better off — they’re better able to fend off the challenges and diseases,” says Heintz. “We have research that shows that honeybees that have been feeding on natural, diverse nectar sources and pollen sources — particularly pollen sources, because that’s where they get their protein — are better able to fend off varroa and nosema and can even do better with pesticide exposure.”

In response to these findings, PAm created a honeybee forage program to secure corporate funding to provide forage plants in areas with high almond acreage, and to educate growers and landowners about the value of growing diverse honeybee forage crops.

“What we’re working on are pre-almond bloom and post-almond bloom plant species,” says Heintz. “For honeybees, these are times when there aren’t a lot of nutrition resources, because almonds bloom so early.”

PAm has established acreage, low-moisture requirement seed mixes, seed suppliers and planting regimes as part of the program. In 2014, crops offered included a mustard mix, a clover mix and ‘Lana’ Vetch. Almond growers interested in growing these forage crops just have to plant them. PAm provides the seed.

Heintz adds that beekeepers spend millions of dollars on sugar syrup to artificially feed bees, but the natural pollens in forage crops are much better for them. “It’s a great benefit to the almond growers, because it gets the bees working on natural pollen just prior to the bloom, so they’re geared up to pollinate the almond crop,” she says.

Not only that, these plants act as cover crops, increasing organic matter in the soil, improving nitrogen levels and preventing runoff.

This past fall, PAm enrolled 150 almond growers in the program, who are growing 3,000 acres of honeybee forage plants. “If we can locate more corporate funding sources, we’d like to make that 3,000 acres 6,000 acres,” Heintz says.

For more information, visit the Project Apis m. website.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Nuts Stories
Nuts
April 27, 2017
Keep an Eye Out for Phytophthora in Your Nut Orchard
After several years of drought conditions, increased water salinity, and a wet winter, your nut orchard may be more susceptible to root rot than you think. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2017
Perdue Sworn in as Ag Secretary
USDA launches Twitter account to help promote the industry. Read More
GenNext Growers
April 22, 2017
Next Generation of Leaders Gets Yearlong Almond Immersion
Almond Leadership Program enters its ninth year with the 2017 class. Read More
Nuts
April 10, 2017
Study Shows No Harm in Wildflower Plantings Near Almond Orchards
While conventional wisdom may suggest having more than one forage opportunity may detract from bee activity, research shows planting wildflowers boosts bees interest. Read More
Crop Protection
March 31, 2017
New Product Offers 2-in-1 Insect and Disease Control for Specialty Crop Growers
Crossover Pro offers early protection from insects, powdery mildew, rust, and leaf blight. Read More
Nuts
March 30, 2017
Lichens Thrive in Your Orchard During a Wet Year
Above average rainfall has created the perfect environment for growth. Read More
Nuts
March 28, 2017
How to Determine Optimal Almond Tree Spacing
Determining the proper row spacing for an orchard should be based on more than production and equipment access, and growers should also ponder the number of trees per row. Read More
Irrigation
March 26, 2017
Tips to Maximize Water Efficiency in Your Almond Grove
Editor’s note: Spencer Cooper joined the Almond Board of California last fall as Senior Manager, Irrigation and Water Efficiency. Western Read More
honeybees
Citrus
March 25, 2017
New Videos Offer Tips on Planting Pollinator Habitats
A new video series on planting flowering habitats is designed to help growers support crop pollinators. Read More
Nuts
March 24, 2017
Foreboding Fungus Vexes Almond Growers
In parts of California, almond growers have recently become concerned about Ganoderma root and butt rot. To put this concern Read More
Nuts
March 15, 2017
Efforts to Thwart Nut Thefts Ramping up in California
Ordinance revisions to end cash sales, include a 10-day hold on payments. Read More
Crop Protection
March 10, 2017
Nematicide Now Available in California, Arizona
Velum One from Bayer also suppresses foliar diseases, increases yields. Read More
Nuts
March 6, 2017
Almond Board of California Announces Board of Directors
The 2017 Board of Directors kicked off March 1. Read More
Citrus
February 28, 2017
Trump Set to Ditch Controversial Water Rule
WOTUS could be on the way out after an executive order calls for a top-to-bottom review. Read More
Nuts
February 27, 2017
Using Drones To Scout Almonds From Above
At California State University, Fresno, scientists are studying how drones can save almond growers water — and help them use less labor too. Read More
The Latest
Nuts
May 25, 2017
Stolen Hives Recovered in Nearly $1M Hei…
Man likely stole hives from across the state of California in the last three years. Read More
Nuts
May 16, 2017
Another Record California Almond Crop Fo…
Bearing acreage officially hits the million mark, though per-acre yields are off from 2016. Read More
Nuts
May 1, 2017
Startup Costs a Challenge to Pecan Growi…
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension specialist says as pecan acres begin to increase, growers need to understand the return on investment is longer than other crops. Read More
Nuts
April 27, 2017
Keep an Eye Out for Phytophthora in Your…
After several years of drought conditions, increased water salinity, and a wet winter, your nut orchard may be more susceptible to root rot than you think. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2017
Perdue Sworn in as Ag Secretary
USDA launches Twitter account to help promote the industry. Read More
GenNext Growers
April 22, 2017
Next Generation of Leaders Gets Yearlong…
Almond Leadership Program enters its ninth year with the 2017 class. Read More
Nuts
April 10, 2017
Study Shows No Harm in Wildflower Planti…
While conventional wisdom may suggest having more than one forage opportunity may detract from bee activity, research shows planting wildflowers boosts bees interest. Read More
Crop Protection
March 31, 2017
New Product Offers 2-in-1 Insect and Dis…
Crossover Pro offers early protection from insects, powdery mildew, rust, and leaf blight. Read More
Nuts
March 30, 2017
Lichens Thrive in Your Orchard During a …
Above average rainfall has created the perfect environment for growth. Read More
Nuts
March 28, 2017
How to Determine Optimal Almond Tree Spa…
Determining the proper row spacing for an orchard should be based on more than production and equipment access, and growers should also ponder the number of trees per row. Read More
Irrigation
March 26, 2017
Tips to Maximize Water Efficiency in You…
Editor’s note: Spencer Cooper joined the Almond Board of California last fall as Senior Manager, Irrigation and Water Efficiency. Western Read More
Citrus
March 25, 2017
New Videos Offer Tips on Planting Pollin…
A new video series on planting flowering habitats is designed to help growers support crop pollinators. Read More
Nuts
March 24, 2017
Foreboding Fungus Vexes Almond Growers
In parts of California, almond growers have recently become concerned about Ganoderma root and butt rot. To put this concern Read More
Nuts
March 15, 2017
Efforts to Thwart Nut Thefts Ramping up …
Ordinance revisions to end cash sales, include a 10-day hold on payments. Read More
Crop Protection
March 10, 2017
Nematicide Now Available in California, …
Velum One from Bayer also suppresses foliar diseases, increases yields. Read More
Nuts
March 6, 2017
Almond Board of California Announces Boa…
The 2017 Board of Directors kicked off March 1. Read More
Citrus
February 28, 2017
Trump Set to Ditch Controversial Water R…
WOTUS could be on the way out after an executive order calls for a top-to-bottom review. Read More
Nuts
February 27, 2017
Using Drones To Scout Almonds From Above
At California State University, Fresno, scientists are studying how drones can save almond growers water — and help them use less labor too. Read More