Christi Heintz, who manages pollination research for the almond industry and Project Apis m., says that almond growers have a long history of supporting habitat for beneficial insects within their orchards and this work on honey bee forage is a natural extension of that commitment. Providing bees with good nutrition through diverse food resources, including forage as a supplemental food source before and after almond bloom, can strengthen the overall health of these important beneficial insects.

Ultimately, providing forage in and around orchards can also reduce pollination costs for growers through reduced hive rental fees, and also provide potential advantages in the orchard such as improved soil nutrition and water infiltration, or reduced runoff or erosion.

(For more, see: Pound of honey a stunning bee creation)

Project Apis m. is looking for almond cooperators this fall to further demonstrate the potential for bee forage in almond orchards as a pre- or post-bloom food resource. The organization provides growers with technical assistance and seed mix sources that are adapted to their orchard characteristics and growing region.

Seed mixes are ideally planted in September to take advantage of fall rains for germination. PAm is partnering with groups such as The Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Resource Center to develop seed mixes favorable to bee pasture under different growing conditions.

Growers interested in participating with Project Apis m. can contact Meg Ribotto at projectapis@gmail.com.