The Almond Board of California’s (ABC’s) “Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California Almonds” offers best management practices for all pollination stakeholders to consider during bloom. Based on decades of ABC-funded research, the Best Management Practices include strategies that are both protective of the honey bees essential to pollinating the crop as well as the almond crop itself.
Chief among these practices is to avoid fungicide application when bees are foraging in the orchard, and to time applications for the late afternoon and evening, when bees and pollen are not present.
No Insecticides at Bloom
Additionally, application of insecticides or tank-mixing insecticides with fungicides should be avoided during bloom; opt instead for alternative IPM insecticide application timings until more is known about the impact of insecticides on honey bees, particularly on young, developing bees in the hive.
Applicators should always take care to ensure pest control materials are applied only where they are needed. Do not directly spray hives or flying bees with any spray application, as any spray material, even water, on bee wings will prevent them from flying, and could adversely affect bee health and the pollination of the crop when it comes in direct contact with them.
Provide bees with clean, pesticide-free drinking water. This will ensure that bees spend their time pollinating the crop rather than searching for water elsewhere, which could be contaminated.
Communication Among Stakeholders
As throughout the year, growers should work to maintain a strong chain of communication between all pollination stakeholders, including beekeepers, bee brokers, farm owners and managers, pest control advisers (PCAs) and applicators concerning all of the activities described above.
All pollination stakeholders should be aware of pest control decisions during bloom, and initial agreements between growers and beekeepers should include a pesticide plan that outlines which pest control materials may be used. If a pesticide treatment is deemed necessary, growers/PCAs/ applicators should contact county ag commissioners so that beekeepers with nearby managed hives are given advance notification.
For more information about the Almond Board’s Honey Bee BMPs, visit Almonds.com/ BeeBMPs. Materials available for download include the full BMP guide, “Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California Almonds,” as well as a general grower quick guide and an applicator guide available in English and Spanish. Printed copies may be requested from Rebecca Bailey at (209) 343-3245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.