What is in this article?:
- Honey bee conference spotlights need for more research
- Stressors lead to decline
- Colony strength evaluation
- Some 1.6 million honey bee colonies are brought into California orchards annually to pollinate the state’s almond crop. That number is expected to grow as new acreage reaches maturity in coming years. At the same time, a number of stressors are putting a strain on beekeepers and their hives.
A new online training course prepares apiary inspectors to evaluate colony strength. The course sets standards for evaluation, providing assurance to growers that they are getting the pollination services they need, and beekeepers are appropriately compensated for their services.
Colony strength evaluation
Almond Board funding in 2012 helped support the development of a new online learning program through UC Cooperative Extension that provides growers, beekeepers and apiary inspectors with easily accessible, standardized information about honey bee biology, recommended colony strength evaluation practices, and important honey bee diseases, pests and parasites. The online program can be accessed through the University of California online learning website at http://ucanr.edu/ColonyStrength.
Another important new cooperative research project will examine the effectiveness of differing colony densities per acre on pollen transfer and almond nut set. Work so far reaffirms the standard of two eight-frame hives per acre.
Meanwhile, ongoing ABC-funded research is also helping to develop tools to control Varroa mites and other bee pests, and to facilitate understanding of the potential impact of fungicides used in almonds on honey bee development. Almond growers in the past have also supported research into Colony Collapse Disorder and in-hive supplemental food sources for honey bees.
While the workshop validated that the almond industry is on the right track, it also made clear that more needs to be done to meet the mounting demand for healthy honey bees by California growers in the future.