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Fall Finds Beekeepers, Growers Preparing for Pollination Season

Fall is the time of year that beekeepers are busy preparing their hives for almond pollination. This is a critical time for beekeepers to maintain bee strength and build young colonies for almond pollination in early February.

Water and food become especially important this time of year as beekeepers supplement protein and other feed sources to compensate for limited forage. Timing is critical for ensuring for strong, eight- to 12-frame colonies for pollination by early spring.

Fall is also an excellent time for almond growers to enhance communication and lock in contracts with their beekeepers.

It is important for almond growers to have a contract in place with beekeepers well before the pollination season begins. A good contract will clarify the following issues:

  • The number of frames of bees, including a minimum and average frame count
  • The number of frames of brood, if provided
  • How and when the hives will be moved in and out of the orchard
  • How the hives will be dispersed throughout the orchard
  • The accessibility of roads to the beekeeper
  • Payment terms, including deposit, progress payment and final payment
  • Recourse if service or payment is unacceptable to respective party
  • Specifics on use and timing of pesticides
  • Who will conduct the hive inspection
  • The temperature and time of day for inspection
  • Inspection timing throughout the contract period

Project Apis m. has developed a contract template to help clarify expectations between growers and beekeepers. For a sample template, go to ProjectApism.org.

The Almond Board has restructured and is updating its Almond Board of California Pollination Directory for the 2014 bloom season. This is a searchable database of beekeepers and bee brokers for almond growers to source.

Beekeepers and bee brokers can ensure their listing is current, and growers can source beekeepers and brokers at the Almond Board website. Beekeepers and bee brokers can update their information by selecting Update Beekeeper Info.

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