One of California's most important specialty crops is almonds; in 2016 the state's crop was worth $5.2 billion. Our climate is ideal for almond production, and as a result we grow more than 80% of the world's supply. California's almond acreage has been increasing steadily as the market for almonds continues to grow, and has nearly doubled since 2005. This increasing demand has a tremendous impact on the nation's migratory beekeepers: the flower is self-infertile, so pollen must be transferred between plants by bees for nuts to be produced. Simply put: no bees, no almonds.
Two honey bee hives per acre of almond trees is required for good pollination. To fill this need, migratory beekeepers from all over the US bring their hives to California for almond bloom. Trees are at their peak bloom right now, and the girls are hard at work throughout the state. While bees obtain both pollen and nectar from almond flowers, the pollen is high in protein and provides healthy bee forage, which can give bees a good start to the year.
Why is there such a demand for almonds? They are also a healthy food for us! They are high in protein and monounsaturated fat and contain a number of vitamins and minerals.
Honey bee hives are often left in orchards for a month or more before and after almond bloom. While many growers understand the importance of alternative sources of forage in their orchards, if you live within flight distance of an orchard – 3 to 5 miles – your garden can help.
Bees obtain both pollen and nectar from almond flowers. Almond pollen is high in protein and provides healthy forage for bees. A solitary bee, Osmia lignaria, is active at the same time as almond bloom and is more likely than honey bees to fly in the cool, wet weather that can occur then. Although they are raised commercially for crop pollination, as solitary bees we currently have no way to produce them in the same quantity as honey bees. Osmia is a great option for home orchards; provide early-blooming plants and a solitary bee house to encourage them.
Honey bee hives are often left in orchards for a month or more before and after almond bloom. While many almond growers are recognizing the importance of providing alternative bee forage, if you live within flight distance of an orchard – 3 to 5 miles – your garden can also help.
California's almond crop was worth $6 billion in 2015; our state produces 82% of the world's supply of this specialty crop. Almonds are eaten whole, added to food, or made into products such as almond milk and almond butter. This nut is high in protein and monounsaturated fat and contains a number of vitamins and minerals. California's almond acreage continues to increase. Your garden can help ensure that there will be healthy bees for pollination of this important specialty crop.
The May bee plant of the month is the rose. While many plants in the rose family are well-used by bees, few have as much appeal in the garden as roses. Rose family crops pollinated by bees include almonds, apples, strawberries, and raspberries. In addition to these crops, the Haven features a number of landscape plants in this family: Catalinia cherry, creambush, mountain mahogany, ninebark, spirea, toyon, and Washington hawthorn.
When selecting roses for a bee garden, choose plants with single flowers.
Roses in the Haven include the Arboretum All-Star butterfly rose, Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis', the California rose, Rosa californica, and the Nootka rose, Rosa nutkana. The foliage of all is used by leafcutter bees in nest construction. The butterfly rose, which reaches up to 6 feet tall and wide, blooms from early spring until frost. Flowers are a mix of yellow, pale pink, and deep pink. The California and Nootka roses are California natives that grow naturally in riparian areas. These two are covered with pink flowers in spring and spread to form dense thickets that can make a useful barrier along fences or under windows. All three roses are water-wise and will grow with a deep soaking every few weeks.