National Honey Bee Day 2018: Brush Up On Your Knowledge of Bee Protection

University of California - Kearney News Updates    By Stephanie Parreira    August 15, 2018

Honey bee on almond blossom. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark.Celebrate National Honey Bee Day by brushing up on your knowledge of bee protection—check out the newly revised Best Management Practices to Protect Bees from Pesticides and Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings from UC IPM. These resources will help you strike the right balance between applying pesticides to protect crops and reducing the risk of harming our most important pollinators.

The best management practices now contain important information regarding the use of adjuvants and tank mixes, preventing the movement of pesticide-contaminated dust, and adjusting chemigation practices to reduce bee exposure to pesticide-contaminated water. The Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings have also been updated to include ratings for 38 new pesticides, including insecticides (baits, mixtures, and biological active ingredients), molluscicides (for snail and slug control), and fungicides.

Most tree and row crops are finished blooming by now, but it is a good idea to learn about bee protection year-round. Visit these resources today to choose pesticides that are least toxic to bees and learn how you can help prevent bees from being harmed by pesticide applications.

Horticulture Research Institute Releases Best Management Practices for Bee Health

CATCH THE BUZZ    February 1, 2017

Best management practices (BMPs) are intended to inform the horticulture industry about how to minimize negative impacts on the environment.

The Horticultural Research Institute, the research foundation of AmericanHort, is pleased to announce the release of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Bee Health in the Horticultural Industry.

BMPs are intended to inform horticultural professionals about the green industry’s impact on bee health. Through the use of BMP guidelines, horticulture can continue to play an important role in pollinator health.

In 2015, the Horticultural Research Institute recognized the need for sound research to develop best production and management practices, educate, and empower the green industry. HRI, in collaboration with AmericanHort, continues to directly fund and leverage research to refine science-based guidance on horticultural practices and protecting bee and pollinator health. As part of the broad-based Horticulture Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative that includes industry and consumer outreach and the establishment of industry best practices, HRI has directly funded four important research projects, launched the Grow Wise, Bee Smart website, and joined the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge campaign.

Jon Reelhorn, HRI President, states, “Investment in research surrounding horticulture’s role in pollinator health is part of HRI’s longstanding commitment to fostering new information relevant to horticultural practices, techniques, and principles. We are pleased to have developed a set of BMPs that offer specific guidance to the industry to refine their stewardship role in bee health.”

Pollinators as a whole encompass a diverse population of thousands of different species, such as managed honey bees, wild bees, butterflies, birds, and bats. Protection of pollinators in general, especially bees, continues to be a major concern among the general public and within the green industry. Several culprits have been identified as factors contributing to managed honey bee losses, including Varroa mites, other pests/diseases of bees, loss of habitat and nutrition, and off-target effects of pesticides. Alternatively, wild, unmanaged bee populations are most greatly affected by landscape changes and habitat degradation.

HRI developed the BMPs, which cover greenhouse and nursery production, woody ornamentals, and managed landscapes, with the assistance of researchers and apiarists throughout North America. Updates to these recommendations will be made as additional research results regarding bee and pollinator health are released.

For the full Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Bee Health in the Horticultural Industry, visit the GrowWise, Bee Smart website.

California's Almond Board's Honey Bee Best Management Practices

Catch the Buzz    February 22, 2016

California almond bloom, typically from mid-February to mid-March, will be a welcome sight for some of the industry’s most valuable partners. Honey bees will feast on their first natural food source this year – almond pollen – and provide the essential link between almond blossoms and a pollinated almond crop.

“Through research we know that almond pollen is very nutritious for honey bees,” said Bob Curtis, Director of Agricultural Affairs at Almond Board of California (ABC). “Research also shows that bee hives increase in strength during the time they spend pollinating almonds. This allows many beekeepers to then split their hives and grow their apiaries, giving the beekeepers and their bees a good foundation for the upcoming year. After their stay in the almond orchards, bees move on to pollinate more than 90 other crops in our state and elsewhere in the nation.”

The essential, age-old relationship between bees and almonds today represents the single largest managed pollination event in the world. With California’s over 6,800 almond farmers, the Almond Board of California maintains a long-term commitment to ensuring that almond orchards are safe, healthy places for honey bees.

“While good soil, climate, and other factors are crucial, without honey bees to pollinate our trees each spring, there would be no almonds,” said Curtis. “And without almond blossoms, the bees would lose their first source of natural pollen each year. It’s a win-win relationship.”

To best protect honey bees while they’re in the orchard, ABC released “Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California Almonds” in 2014. The BMPs provide farmers and other parties involved in almond pollination with a standardized tool kit of simple, practical and research-based steps they can take to protect and promote honey bee health both inside and outside their orchards.

Eric Mussen, apiculturist emeritus at UC Cooperative Extension, said that with the BMPs, ABC is “responding strongly on honey bee health and, in particular, pesticide use and considerations during bloom.” He went on to say that the BMPs “go far beyond the almond orchard, providing important insights for all crops when it comes to promoting honey bee health.”

Since their release, the BMPs have been shared at over 70 industry meetings with more than 7,000 copies distributed to almond farmers and beekeepers alike. The strong, favorable response to the BMPs marks another milestone in the effort to protect honey bee health and preserve the mutually beneficial relationship between honey bees and almonds.

ABC takes its responsibility as a leader in the honey bee health conversation very seriously, investing more in this issue than any other crop or commodity group1 – funding 100 independent research projects. This includes researching issues about the time bees spend pollinating almonds as well as research that supports hive health throughout the year. Topics of interest for bees and almonds include the impact of orchard pest control materials on bees and the viability of supplemental food sources like blooming plants for when no other natural bee food is available. To support hive health and beekeepers year round, ABC-funded research investigates the varroa mite and other pests that affect honey bees; bee stock improvements and disease management; honey bee nutrition and in-field technical assistance for beekeepers addressing hive health and management.

This year, ABC invested $2.5 million in next-generation farming research including nine honey bee health projects in the key areas noted above. This research fuels the next round of innovation to ensure the California almond community and its essential partner, the honey bee, can continue to grow healthy, nutritious food.

To learn more about ABC’s Honey Bee BMPs, visit  For additional information about the pollination partnership between honey bees and almonds, as well as the California almond community’s commitment to honey bee health, please see the new infographic “The Buzz on Bees + Almonds” at

Welcome Rains May Be a Challenge to Almond Blossoms

Catch the Buzz - From Ag-New    February 7, 2106

Storms that have been rolling in off the Pacific, helping to fill reservoirs and recharge groundwater, may be a challenge for almond growers should they coincide with the upcoming almond pollination season.

The almond bloom is expected to be “normal to a little ahead of normal,” says Bob Curtis, director, Agricultural Affairs, Almond Board of California, increasing the risk of unfavorable weather conditions just when bee activity is necessary to pollinate this year’s crop.

Wet weather during bloom, which typically occurs from mid-February to mid-March, is not unusual, according to Curtis, and there will be windows of opportunity with favorable conditions when bees can fly and pollinate the crop.

When Bees Fly

Favorable conditions for bee flight are defined as ambient temperatures above 55 degrees F, wind less than 15 mph and no rain, explains Dr. Franz Niederholzer, farm advisor for Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties. “The more bee hours in the orchard, the better,” he says. “If conditions are hazardous for bees, they won’t be out flying; if it is cold, they will stay home warming the hives and protecting themselves and the brood.” He adds, “The weather has to be warmish and fairly still, and we usually get many of those days. It’s remarkable how much pollination can take place in very little time when the weather is good.”

Wet weather at bloom, though, favors fungal infections of the flowers, which threaten the viability of the almond crop and may require fungicide sprays. “What’s best for the bees is no spraying,” Dr. Niederholzer says, “but you have to spray to protect blooms.” The Almond Board’s “Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California Almonds” ( includes strategies for protecting honey bees while also protecting the crop. The most important strategy is to spray fungicides only after bees have removed all the pollen for the day, which occurs by mid- to late afternoon or evening.

Only One Insecticide

With one exception, growers should also limit spray materials in the tank to just fungicides, avoiding tank-mixing with insecticides. The exception is the insecticide B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis). B.t. is documented to be safe for both adult and immature (brood) bees. Application of any other insecticides during bloom should be avoided.

Should rain and field conditions limit access, growers also have the option of using newer fungicide chemistries that feature more flexible timing. This is because they are locally systemic and provide reach-back activity against a recent infection. These newer fungicides can be applied at pink bud to provide disease protection, and under low disease pressure conditions, this may be the only bloom spray needed.

With higher disease pressure, two sprays may be needed: the first at pink bud and then again at 50 to 80% bloom.

To download a high-resolution file of the “Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California Almonds,” click here.

'Best Practices' For California Almonds Aim to Protect Bees

Sierra Sun Times   By Christine Souza    October 22, 2014

Left, Beekeeper Orin Johnson of Hughson talks to neighboring almond grower Eric Genzoli about best management practices for honeybees newly released by the Almond Board of California. Photo/Christine SouzaIn preparation for pollination that attracts an estimated 1.6 million honeybee colonies to California almond orchards each year, the Almond Board of California has unveiled a set of bee "best management practices" as a guide intended to improve honeybee health.

"Nobody is a bigger fan of honeybees than almond growers," said Richard Waycott, chief executive officer of the Almond Board. "Without bees, there would be no almonds. And without almonds, bees would lose a vital source of nutritious pollen."

In releasing the best management practices last week, Waycott described the BMPs as "another significant milestone in our decades-long commitment to protect bee health and preserve that mutually beneficial relationship."

Developed with input from sources including almond growers, beekeepers, researchers, chemical registrants and regulators, the BMPs represent what the Almond Board called simple, practical steps that farmers can take with beekeepers to protect and promote bee health.

The BMPs emphasize the importance of communication among everyone involved in pollination, including beekeepers, bee brokers, farm owners and lessees, farm mangers, pest control advisers and applicators. The recommendations include information on preparing for honeybee arrival; assessing hive strength and quality; providing clean water for bees to drink; using integrated pest management strategies to minimize application of materials; removing bees from the orchard; and pesticide plans between the beekeeper and farmer that outline pest control materials to be used.

Beekeeper Orin Johnson of Hughson said the Almond Board BMPs for honeybees are good for both the apiary and almond sectors "as long as it's accepted and heeded by the almond growers."

While experts agree that more research would be beneficial on honeybees' interaction with various crop-protection materials, Eric Mussen, Cooperative Extension apiculturist emeritus at the University of California, Davis, said, "With these best management practices, the Almond Board is responding strongly on honeybee health and, in particular, pesticide use and considerations during bloom."

He said the recommendations provide "important insights for all crops when it comes to promoting honeybee health."

Eric Genzoli, who grows almonds with his family in Turlock and Hughson, said his operation has most of the BMPs in place and has "never had any issues related to the bees."

Genzoli said he has developed a good relationship with the beekeepers whose bees pollinate his orchards.

Almond grower Sonny Johns of Modesto said he values what beekeepers and bees mean for the almond crop and has a great interest in maintaining honeybee health.

"We want people to understand that the almond industry is doing its job as growers. We are not out there doing applications without considering the bees and bee pollen," Johns said.

"You've got to take care of your investment," Genzoli said. "You've got to take care of the bees."

U.S. beekeepers report losses of bees each year, citing problems such as pests and diseases, the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder, and a lack of forage due to the drought.

The BMPs for bees released by the Almond Board also include a "Quick Guide for Almonds" and bee BMPs for applicatorRead at/drivers. The information and bee BMP documents are available at

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at  

Read at

BEE Best Management Practices

Almond Board of California   October 16, 2014

As part of an ongoing commitment to honey bee health, the Almond Board of California recently released a comprehensive, set of Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California’s almond industry. Developed with a wide array of input from sources including the almond community, beekeepers, researchers, California and U.S. regulators, and chemical registrants, the BMPs represent the Board’s most extensive educational documents to date to ensure that almond orchards are and remain a safe and healthy place for honey bees. The documents lay out simple, practical steps that almond growers can take together with beekeepers and other pollination stakeholders to protect and promote bee health on their land and in the surrounding community.

Download the newly released Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California Almonds

Supplemental Quick Guides are available for general and applicator/drive audiences.

Best Management Practices for Honey Bees

Bug Squad     By Kathy Keatley Garvey   October 15, 2014

The Almond Board of California will unveil its Honey Bee Best Management Practices tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 16) in an ongoing effort to promote and protect bee health.

The board will do so by holding a press conference at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time with questions directed at Richard Waycott, CEO, Almond Board of California; 
Bob Curtis, associate director of Agricultural Affairs, Almond Board of California
 and Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

It promises to be a comprehensive set of Best Management Practices or BMPs. Media members who wish to participate can access this page.

Remember last spring when beekeepers in the San Joaquin Valley almond orchards reported losing 80,000 colonies?  Beekeepers believe that pesticides killed their bees after the almond pollination season ended but just before they could move their bees to another site.

Mussen wrote about the issue in the March/April edition of his newsletter, from the UC apiaries,published on his website. We also blogged about it.

"When should the colonies be allowed to leave the orchards?" Mussen asked. "When pollination no longer is happening. That does not mean that the bees should remain in place until the last petal falls from the last blossom."

Communication is key to a good BMP. The Almond Board recently published three informational pieces, “Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California Almonds,” "Honey Bee Best Management Practices Quick Guide for Almonds,” and “Applicator/Driver Honey Bee Best Management Practices for Almonds” (in English and Spanish).

The topics include:

  • Preparing for arrival
  • Assessing hive strength and quality
  • Protecting honey bees at bloom
  • Honey bees and insecticides
  • Honey bees and fungicides
  • Using integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to minimize agricultural sprays
  • Honey bees and self-compatible almond varieties
  • Best management practices for pest control during almond bloom
  • Removing honey bees from the orchard
  • Addressing suspected pesticide-related honey bee losses
  • What to expect in an investigation

The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), headed by Dennis van Engelsdorp, produced three short videos as the result of a 2012-2013 beekeeping survey.  Project Apis m (PAm) published some of the informationonline about varroa mites, nosema, honey bee nutrition and the like.

It's important for almond growers and beekeepers to keep the lines of communication open. Bees make a "bee line" toward the almond blossoms, but the growers and the beekeepers don't always make a timely "bee line" toward one another to resolve issues that surface.

Read at...