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.”