There is still no smoking gun pinpointing the cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD) among the nation’s honey bees, reported Chris Heintz at The Almond Conference in December. In a presentation on Honey Bee Health and Supply, Heintz, who is the Almond Board Bee Task Force liaison, also noted, “Colony losses are not quite as acute as in previous years, mainly as a result of improved management, but overwintering losses still hover around 30 percent, an unsustainable rate of loss.” The nation’s top bee scientists identify a combination of pathogens, pesticides and poor nutrition as the main factors contributing to CCD.

The Almond Board of California (ABC) has made a substantial commitment to bee health research, investing $1.2 million since 1995. Current ABC-funded research is looking at honey bee stock improvement and novel approaches to control Varroa mite, a serious bee pest. And money is set aside to study the possible sublethal impacts of fungicides on colonies.

In partnership with Project Apis m., best management practices for growers have been developed and are being extended to foster bee health during the pollination season.