Almonds and Bees: The Greatest Pollinator Partnership

Almond Trees

Each time you snack on an almond, remember to thank the honey bees that pollinated its almond blooms. Without the honey bee, the “hero of almond pollination,” this healthy snack would not be the staple it has become on our grocery store and pantry shelves.

As we bundle up and ride out winter’s coldest months, commercial beekeepers are hard at work ensuring a stable supply of almonds for people to enjoy throughout the year to come. For many, it may feel like winter began just a few short weeks ago, but for those who supply honey bees to pollinate the California almond crops, there is much to do to prepare for spring: the greatest pollination event in the world.

Across California, more than 1 million acres of almonds grow each year. Local honey bees alone cannot pollinate all that crop acreage due to its sheer size, and that’s where commercial beekeepers come in. Every year, beekeepers work together with almond growers to supply and manage the transport of the more than 2 million honey bee hives required to pollinate the crop and keep pace with the growing market demand for almonds.

With springtime on the horizon, beekeepers who manage honey bees used for pollinating almond crops have been busy carefully relocating and preparing their colonies for the season. It’s no small task for beekeepers to care for the number of healthy colonies needed to ensure that more than 80 percent of the world’s almond crops are pollinated.

While snow may still cover the ground across much of the northern U.S., beekeepers and growers know only a few short weeks remain until almond trees start blooming, regardless of whether the groundhog predicts six more weeks of winter! What is the expected journey for beekeepers, you may ask? Here’s the timeline they expect:

January: Beekeepers manage their honey bees to build up the number of hives with strong, healthy colonies. These hives are moved to California to prepare to be placed in almond orchards.

February – early March: Almond trees bloom, and pollination occurs! Two million hives pollinate the California almond trees, which reached a milestone acreage of 1.24 million in 2017.

Mid to late March: Hives are moved to other locations in the U.S. to provide pollination for different crops and to feed on healthy, diverse forage.

If you are interested in learning more about the almond industry and pollination statistics, the Almond Board is a great resource with an industry directory, almond pollination directory and more.

Next time you snack on an almond, be sure to thank a honey bee, the star of the almond industry’s success story!

Almond Blossoms with Bee