As this year’s accomplishments end, we look towards next season and the joys and headaches it will bring. Our minds linger on questions about successes and failures and how they relate to management decisions. Right now, beekeepers throughout the country are deciding how to treat for mites and pathogens. As the summer continues into fall, forage becomes scarce. Hives will need to find an adequate amount of late blooming flowers or get expensive protein supplement patties fed to them. With habitat and forage disappearing across the country (see The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund) the latter is the new normal for most beekeeping operations. The choices made this Fall will determine the health and vigor of the bees needed to pollinate almonds in the Spring. Few people realize the amount of bee forage present in a North Dakota grassland in the Fall significantly affects an $11 billion-dollar industry in California in the Spring.
As growers are watching almond hulls split and dry, they are making important decisions. Harvest is a busy time of year. As the rainy season draws nearer the risk of exposing the nuts to moisture increases. Growers are also making choices in the Fall that will impact spring pollination. There is a small window of time after harvest and before the first winter rains that is ideal for planting PAm bee forage cover crops. Growers who want the strongest bees possible are making choices this Fall that will affect the pollination of their crops come spring. To ensure an early bloom, cover crops should be planted by October 5th. However, some orchards with late harvesting varieties might not be ready by then. Cover crops will still germinate and help the soil if planted after October 5, but the hive-strengthening aspects are diminished. Every year hungry bee hives get placed in orchards before the almonds bloom. Growers are now realizing hives that can forage on cover crops early are stronger come the second week of February when almond bloom usually occurs. Synchronizing cover crop bloom with the bees’ arrival is the best way to take full advantage of all the benefits of the Seeds for Bees program. As a grower once told me, “The bees show up before almonds, so my cover crop might as well be blooming so they have something eat!”
I am now taking orders for Seeds for Bees seed mixes. The requirements and details of the program can be found here. Feel free to call or email me with questions. Cover crops increase the health and vitality of bees while improving crop production. Get involved today!
Director of Pollination Programs
Project Apis m.
Reach Billy Synk at Billy@ProjectApism.org or (614) 330-6932