The Largest Pollination Event is Happening Right Now

Friday, February 10, 2017
By: Sarah Myers, Bayer North American Bee Care Program, Bee Team Apiarist and Outreach Coordinator
bee care

Who would Batman be without Robin? Would Oreos be delicious without the milk? Same goes for honey bees and almonds. You might not know this, but they have a very special relationship! Without one, it’s nearly impossible to have the other.

Almond trees need pollinators, primarily honey bees, to pollinate flowers that blossom into almonds. Honey bees rely on almond blooms for their forage and nutrition. It is a positive relationship that is very important in California this time of year.

Why California?

California’s almond bloom is the largest pollination event in the world.  The sheer size of the land area and amount of hives needed to pollinate California’s almond blooms out-number any other organized pollination event in the U.S. About 1.8 million honey bee hives are needed to cover the 860,000 acres of almond groves, which is 60 to 75 percent of all U.S. commercial hives.

Honey Bees & Almonds 

Why now?

Wouldn’t you like a summer-time getaway in the middle of winter? Honey bees are on the same page. They like to forage when it’s 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Because of this, California is the top location commercial honey bees are taken to for pollination. Honey bees follow a migratory pattern throughout the year, according to what’s in bloom for crops that benefit from or require insect pollination.  Other top honey bee destinations for pollination are Washington (apples, blueberries and raspberries), North Dakota (canola), South Dakota (sunflowers) and another hot-spot, Florida (blueberries, melons, cucumbers and citrus).

Honey Bees & Almonds 

How do these little insects impact the agriculture industry?

Honey bees are vital to many agriculture crops including almonds. Almond nuts will develop on trees only when the flower is correctly pollinated. The vast majority of almond tree varieties in California require a second almond tree of a different variety for pollination. These varieties must be cross-pollinated by insects, mostly honey bees. Without honey bees, we would not be able to enjoy delicious almonds every year.

Honey Bee - Migration Patterns 

So why should I care?

California’s agriculture industry relies heavily on the almond crop for its profits, and honey bees rely on the almonds as a main source of forage and pollination. Apart from the benefits almonds and honey bees gain from each other, there’s also something in it for you. Almonds are a tasty and healthy snack served in various countries around the world. High in fiber and protein, and weighing in at only 160 calories per ounce, almonds are the perfect snack for those of us trying to keep up with our 2017 health goals.

For more information on almonds and bee health, follow @Bayer4CropsUS on Twitter and Instagram.


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