Choosing the Right Type of Almond

Almond Board of California

E-Learning & Continuing Education

The Almond Board provides educational opportunities to help strengthen the industry overall, and to keep California Almonds the Crop of Choice. Because growers and processors are busy throughout the year, the board has made online e-learning courses available to bring the expertise straight to your office.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TYPE OF ALMOND

When selecting the right California Almond for your specific need, understanding the differences between the wide assortment of almonds will help you confidently choose the right type of almond for the right purpose. In this course, you will learn more about how the size, grade, variety and form of almonds can help you determine the right type for the right use. There are no continuing education credits for this course. 

CLICK HERE to begin the course.

Beekeepers Face Challenges In and Out of Almond Bloom

Western Farm Press/Almond Board of California    By Bob Curtis    February 3, 2015

Almond industry helping to address health and forage issues for honey bees. 

Some 1.7 million beehives have moved into California’s 860,000 acres of almonds across the Central Valley to pollinate the state’s almond crop.

The importance of bees to the success of California Almonds is undeniable. What may be less understood is the amount of money, time and manpower beekeepers invest to get these bees healthy and ready to pollinate the crop.

Beekeepers report that inputs are growing steadily each year, as rising demand and pressures on honey bee health challenge them to produce more and more healthy hives...

Read more... http://westernfarmpress.com/orchard-crops/beekeepers-face-challenges-and-out-almond-bloom?page=1

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.

http://www.almonds.com/

Almond Board Reports on Their Bee Related Work

Almond Board of California   June 1, 2013

Meetings Reflect Growing Public Interest in Honey Bee Health

The Almond Board of California had an active presence at four major events related to honey bee health this past April, reflecting increased interest by consumers and regulators in the decline of honey bees, monarch butterflies and other wild pollinator populations.

From the private sector to state and federal entities, the focus of the meetings is to discover what can be done to improve the well-being of honey bees and other pollinators. Given the importance of pollination services to the almond industry, as well as the industry’s long-standing focus on honey bee health research, Almond Board staff and leadership are actively involved in these meetings.

Read more... http://www.almondboard.com/Outlook2/Pages/Post.aspx?pid=588

Almond Growers Pay Record Prices Amid Bee Shortages

(The following is brought to us by the American Bee Journal.)

                           The Bakersfield Californian  By John Cox  2/19/13

By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

From left, bee keeper Bill Mathewson, farm manager Jose Gomez, and almond farmer Richard Enns check the health of some bee hives that within a few days will be busy pollinating Enns' orchards as the trees begin to bloom. Enns says he spends $100,000 on bees to pollinate his almonds. 

 

 

With Kern County's almond bloom expected to get under way this week, Geordy Wise sure is glad he lined up his bees last fall instead of waiting. The Shafter and Wasco-area orchard manager said he ended up paying between $150 and $185 per hive -- high prices, to be sure. But they're well below the $200 to $225 others are reportedly shelling out lately amid a nationwide bee shortage.


This year's almond pollination may well set records, not only in terms of hive prices but also for bee colony losses that have claimed 40 percent of some beekeepers' stocks, and in some cases much more.

Commercial beekeepers say a combination of factors is to blame: disease, a harsh winter, drought in much of the United States and government restrictions on a popular mite treatment, not to mention increasing demand by California's expanding almond industry.

"It's the worst year I've ever seen, really, in about 30 years, as bee losses go," said Joe Traynor, a widely respected bee broker in Bakersfield.

The upshot is that large growers of almonds are having to make do with fewer hives, while beekeepers focus on rebuilding their bee populations.

Bees have been a source of concern around the world for years. A mysterious ailment called colony collapse disorder began devastating bee populations in 2006. How much the disorder contributed to this year's losses is unclear.

Some almond growers wonder whether the concerns -- and the hive prices -- have been overblown. They emphasize that yearly ups and downs will always be part of working in agriculture.

"I think it's like anything, like the farming," Wise said. "What you put into it is what you're going to get out of it. I think there's better beekeepers than others."

Bad year for bees

Beekeepers say this year was different in several ways. About half the bees needed to pollinate California's almond bloom come from outside the state, including places struggling with a drought that has reduced forage and weakened bees.

Also, a popular mite treatment was taken off the market last year, leaving many beekeepers without a viable alternative for warding off insects responsible for spreading viruses among bees.

Jeff Vicknell, who sells bee medical treatments and nutritional supplements out of a warehouse off Weedpatch Highway, said he has watched beekeepers struggle this year with severely malnourished and sick colonies. This year more than in years past, he said, beekeepers are paying dearly to keep their bees healthy -- sometimes to no avail.

"These are people that know what they're doing, that have been in the business all their life, and now there's no hope," he said.

Montana beekeeper Bill Dahle said he lost 10,000 colonies over the past year, leaving him with only 3,000. He reckons it's his worst year in three decades.

Nevertheless, he and his son made their annual trip to Kern County in hopes of salvaging some of their investment and earning money to reinvest in new colonies.

"We'll be back again strong as ever," he said stoically. "It's just one of those glitches."

The situation has obvious implications for California's thriving almond industry, which in 2011 sold product valued at nearly $3.5 billion.

Statewide, productive almond acreage grew by an estimated 22,832 acres last year, or 3 percent, and was on track to increase at almost the same rate this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

The Almond Board of California has been monitoring the bee situation and, since 1995, invested $1.4 million in honeybee health research. It has also encouraged growers to set aside land for hungry bees to forage.

"We need a chain of food and forage for these bees all the way through the year," said Bob Curtis, the almond board's associate director of ag affairs.

Paramount Farms, one of Kern County's leading ag producers, contracted some 92,000 bee hives to pollinate its 46,000 almond acres this year.

It's not as many bees as the company would like, but with Paramount's focus on working closely with beekeepers to ensure strong colonies, company bee biologist Gordon Wardell said it will suffice.

He likened Paramount's balancing act to having too little icing for a big cake.

"What you do is you just spread the icing a little bit thinner around it. And that's what we're doing with the bees," he said.

Wardell said that part of the reason hive prices have risen so sharply this year is that last year there was an excess of bees that lowered costs for growers who signed pollination contracts late in the season.

"These same growers this year thought they'd wait till the very end to get bees again, and there was a shortfall of bees," he said.

Now, he added, "they're being gouged, if you want to call it that. ... They're panicking."

Whether the hold-outs will have much selection this year is hard to say. But anecdotal indications aren't good.

The secretary-treasurer of the California State Beekeepers Association, Carlen Jupe, recalled a telling moment at the Delta Bee Club meeting Feb. 5 in Oakdale.

The 90 people present, most of them commercial beekeepers, were asked who had extra bees beyond what they had already contracted to growers this season.

"Nobody raised their hand," Jupe said.

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'A' is for Almonds; 'B' is for Bees

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey  12/12/12

It's the Big 4-0 for the Almond Board of California's annual almond industry conferencethis week.

Some 1000 convention-goers are gathering in the Sacramento Convention Center. The 40th annual conference opened Tuesday, Dec. 11 and runs through Thursday, Dec. 13.

A contingent from the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, is there--including some from chemical ecologist Walter Leal's lab and some from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.

Many came to hear U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

After all, almonds are California's biggest export.  With some 750,000 acres of almonds in production in the state, the National Agricultural Statistics Service is forecasting a record-breaking 2.10 billion meat pounds this year, valued at approximately $3 billion. Eighty-percent of the global supply of almonds is grown in California, and about 70 percent of California’s crop is marketed overseas.

Over at the Laidlaw facility, you can't help but notice the sign that graces the entrance. The work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis, it shows a skep, honey bees, DNA strands, and almond blossoms.

Then if you walk a few steps east of the facility to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, you'll run into the gigantic worker bee sculpture, also the work of Donna Billick. It's a six-foot-long morphologically correct worker bee, right down to the wax glands.

If it appears to be on a pedestal, that's the way it should be. Honey bees, those tiny   agricultural workers, pollinate one-third of the food we eat.

As for the almonds, the pollination season begins around Valentine's Day. The orchards will be buzzing. It takes two hives per acre to pollinate California's almond crop.

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at: http://ucanr.org/blogs/bugsquad/

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey website at: http://kathygarvey.com/

Industry Does State's Job

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.)  

Water supply to help bees at border. Industry Does State’s Job.

Almond and apiary groups are working with the California Department of Agriculture to make sure truckers hauling bees into the Golden State have adequate access to water at border inspection stations. 

More than 1.6 million honeybee colonies are expected to enter the state in time for next year's almond bloom, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Concerned about inspection delays at some border stations, the California State Beekeeper's Association, Project Apis m. and the Almond Board of California each contributed $5,000 to upgrade water availability at those locations. 

The water keeps the colonies cool and encourages the bees to stay within the hives.

About 2,700 truckloads of bee colonies enter the state annually between October and January, the federation reported.

This ezine is also available online at http://home.ezezine.com/1636/1636-2012.11.06.18.02.archive.html