Recently, both The New York Times and AXS TV newsman Dan Rather reported prominently on the situation with overwintering honey bee losses. Overall, beekeepers have reported
that overwintering honey bee colony losses were greater this winter than the years before — on average, in the 40% range.
Ultimately, beekeepers were able to cover most of the almond pollination needs, but had to work harder to meet their contracts by calling on additional beekeepers to send hives to California. Hive prices increased as a result in some cases.
Ongoing Almond Board–funded research addresses issues
of honey bee health.
Unclear are all the causes of increased honey bee losses, but there are several known culprits. One contributor is the changing landscape for summer forage in the upper Midwest. High grain and soybean prices are causing conservation acres to be converted back to farmland, impacting a major summer food source for honey bees and increasing exposure to pesticides. Other factors include drought in the Midwest, which impacts bee nutrition, Varroa mite levels and viral diseases.
The Almond Board of California (ABC) remains engaged, providing information to media, government agencies and others on honey bee health issues and their impact on almond production. ABC has invested more in honey bee health research than any
other U.S. commodity organization.
ABC staff were recently invited to join two tours held in the Manteca/Oakdale/Waterford area for high-level U.S. EPA officials, including Assistant Administrator Jim Jones. Beekeepers and EPA staff recognized the Almond Board’s research and outreach efforts to develop best management practices in almonds that minimize risks to honey bees. ABC will continue those research and outreach efforts on behalf of the industry.