Bee Where Program Will Help Keep Bees Safe in The Spring

Beekeepers Must Register Their Bee Hive Locations

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

There’s a mandate set in place by the state of California to help the bee industry safe from pesticide spraying. Ethan Rasmussen with Rasmussen Farms and a beekeeper in the Gustine area of Merced County discussed it with California Ag Today recently. The Bee Where program mandates beekeepers to register their hives under AB2468. It was set up to help pollinating bees during the pollination season. It especially helps the almond crop during bloom.registration of hives

“It’s definitely a step forward for beekeeping industry because we have so many beekeepers coming to California,” Rasmussen said. “The almond industry is growing. It’s going to keep on growing. And that means there’s going to be an increased amount of beekeepers in the state during the springtime for almond bloom.”

With increased bees in almond orchards, it definitely increases concerns, specifically with theft and with sprays, and this program looks like it should help with that.

However, Rasmussen fears too much paperwork because there are so many different locations where there will be bees and so many different beekeepers.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but if we can coordinate and everyone does their part it should definitely a step in the right direction.

And while all of the registrations are done online, Rasmussen noted that there still a complicated amount of paperwork to keep up with all those locations where you will have those bees.

“We’re going to have over 150 locations during almond bloom, and each one of those has to be registered with the county or whatever agency is going to handle it, and that’s a really busy time of year for us. So that’s the only concern I see,” he said.

Rasmussen said that compared to five years ago, almond growers are way more aware of protecting bees, thanks to beekeeping organizations and the Almond Board of California. There have been a lot of resources given to growers, and they are doing well.

“We are not so much concern with almond growers; it may be the peach grower down the road that could be spraying when our bees are foraging,” he said. “The new law is going to keep us registered, so anyone that’s going to spray is going to go through their PCA, and they will know where the bees are. That way, they will know whether or not to spray.”

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Helping Bees with Cover Crops Helps Orchards

Keeping Pollinating Bees in Almond Orchards

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Billy Synk, director of pollination programs with project Apis M, a group whose goal is to fund and direct research for the health of honey bees. Synk discussed bees and cover crops in almond orchards.

“They have a preference for the almonds bloom,” he explained.

Almond blossoms have 25 percent protein. The structure of the flower is also a lot more open, making it easier to get into than other flowers.

“UC Davis has done research on bloom competition. It really is not a valid concern as much as you want to keep bees on a specific crop or in a specific area. So if you’re able to provide that alternative flowers right underneath the trees, you’re just going to keep them from wandering off,” Synk said.

Cover crops are planted around almond orchards to stimulate honeybees. One of these mixes is called PAm mustard mix.

“That master mix has canola, three different species of mustard, and then daikon radishes,” he said. “The white daikon radish is not just for the honeybees; it benefits the soil as well. Its long taproot breaks up compacted soil and provides much needed organic matter when it decomposes.”

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Cover Crops Help Bees and Soil

Flowering Cover Crops Stimulates Bees

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently interviewed Billy Synk, director of pollination programs for Project Apis m and manager of the Seeds for Bees Project. The Project Apis m mission is to fund and direct research to enhance the health and vitality of honeybee colonies while improving crop production. He spoke on the benefits of cover crops for honeybee health.

“It’s an amazing project and an exciting project to work on and manage because it’s doing two good things at once. It’s a win-win situation. It’s helping out the soil and helping out bees,” Synk said.

When Synk speaks to growers, he mentions those two good reasons.

“Do it to help the bees that are in your orchard become stronger, and do a better job pollinating, but then also help your soil with organic matter and improved water infiltration.”

There are about two million beehives, coming to California from every corner of the United States, and the bees are very hungry.

“Not only are they very hungry, they’re the hungriest they have been all year, and their most important job is to pollinate almonds. Well, if you can have a cover crop blooming before those almonds bloom, you can stimulate them a lot better and create a positive feedback loop,” Synk said.

Synk explained that as more pollen comes into the hive, they rear more bees.

“That brood has a pheromone that tell the adult bees to leave the hive and go collect pollen. That stimulation is just going to make that hive excited and strong and ready to go the day that those almonds bloom,” he said.

Contact Project Apis m for more information and to possibly get cover crop seeds to plant this season.

https://www.projectapism.org/

 

 

 

 

 

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USDA Funds $3 Million to Improve Bee Health

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production, particularly in California.

The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, where California farmers procure their bees.

USDA reports that Honey bee pollination supports an estimated $15 billion worth of agricultural production, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables that are the foundation of a nutritious diet.

California’s 800,000 acres of almond orchards typically require 1.8 million domesticated bee colonies, just to pollinate its almond trees alone.

The future security of America’s food supply depends on healthy honey bees,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Expanded support for research, combined with USDA’s other efforts to improve honey bee health, should help America’s beekeepers combat the current, unprecedented loss of honey bee hives each year.”

Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. Recent studies have shown that beekeepers are losing approximately 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year, up from historical norms of ten to fifteen percent overwintering losses experienced prior to 2006.

This assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators, as well as habitat for other wildlife.

Midwestern states were chosen because from June to September the region is the resting ground for over 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter.

Applications are due March 21, 2014.

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