Given the above, it is no surprise the Almond Board has made and will continue to make a long-term commitment to honey bee health and nutrition research. The ABC has funded a sustained pollination and honey bee research program since 1976, and in particular, has been addressing honey bee health, nutrition, pest and disease management, and the effects of pesticides since 1995 — long before the advent of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Funding since 1995 has reached $1.2 million.

The activities and accomplishments of these programs include:

Establishment of late summer-fall feeding, particularly with protein, as important for strong hives at almond bloom time.

Assistance in the development of bee diets.

Development of novel approaches for Varroa mite control.

Studying factors contributing to CCD.

Supporting a breeding program for improved honey bee resistance to pests and pathogens; this information is now being transfered to queen breeders.

Research partnerships

ABC research complements other efforts, including research funded by USDA and private groups, such as Project Apis m (http://www.projectapism.org/). The Almond Board of California is a collaborator with Project Apis m in informing beekeepers and almond growers alike about pollination best management practices (BMPs). This effort is being leveraged by CDFA-Farm Bill Block Grant Funds. 

Almond Industry Conference

This year’s Almond Industry Conference on Dec. 8 and 9 in Modesto will include discussions on bee health and management challenges, keys to strong colonies for almond pollination, and practices almond growers can employ to assist the beekeeper in providing strong honey bee colonies. In addition, there will be a “Pollination Pavilion” that will feature the latest results of ABC-funded bee health research and stock improvement programs, information on pollination BMPs, and information on the blue orchard bee as a supplemental pollinator to honey bees. At the Pavilion there will be an opportunity for almond growers, beekeepers and brokers to exchange hive rental information. To learn more about the conference, including the program schedule and registration information, go to AlmondBoard.com/farmpress13.