August 3, 2013

Extra Forage for Bees?

The Almond Board of California and Project Apis m. (PAm) are doing research on solutions for core honeybee pressures. A range of factors affect the honey bee population, including colony collapse disorder, Varroa mites, lack of pollen and nectar food sources, pesticides, pathogens andthe changing landscape for honey bee forage.
Could floral diversity such as this improve honey bee pollination?

The Almond Board of California almond growers can contribute to a better bee supply by providing forage in or near their orchards before and/or after almond bloom. PAm has identified four bee forage seed mixtures for the 2013 planting season. These mixtures provide floral diversity prior to and after the almond bloom for the nearly 1.6 million colonies that are delivered to the state. With proper nutrition, bees can fend off many of their stresses. 
A secondary benefit to providing bees with an alternative food source, planting these cover crops provides increased soil fertility, better water infiltration, weed suppression and reduced soil erosion and potentially decreased colony rental fees for the orchard.
For best germination, growers should plant bee pastures in September, ahead of fall rains. Almond growers should consider their pesticide practices before deciding where to plant the forage crop. PAm provides the seed and guidance to those growers who are willing to enroll in the program.
To enroll in the pollinator forage project, email PAm.

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