Seeds For Bees provides growers and orchardists in California free or subsidized cover crop seeds designed by Project Apis m., along with technical support. This incentive gives growers an opportunity to try out cover crops for themselves at a reduced cost so that they can experience the benefits first hand. If you are a grower and are interested in participating, please visit our Grower's Page here.
Why does seeds for Bees put forage in almond orchards?
Every year over 2,000,000 colonies of honey bees are needed for the world's greatest "pollination event." California produces up to 80% of the world's almonds, and each of the almond trees that produce this crop depends on pollination from honey bees to be productive. Almond pollen is full of protein and good for bees - but the almond bloom is short and orchards aren't typically places where bees can find good food sources before and after the bloom. This means colonies can struggle to find the proper nutrients that help them thrive and stay healthy and productive. Seeds for Bees is working to change that! By planting cover crops in and around orchards, nutritious plants like mustards and clovers provide food for bees when they need it most. PAm'sseed mixesare also good for the orchard and the grower because they provide additional benefits that increase sustainability and help growers be good stewards of the land. Learn more about orchard benefits of Seeds for Bees here.
Does Seeds for Bees only benefit honey bees or is it good for other pollinators too?
PAm seed mixes are designed to meet the nutritional needs of honey bees, because they do the 'heavy lifting' of contract crop pollination. Our seed mixes also provide habitat and nutrition for other pollinators and beneficial insects. The example below illustrates the benefits of supporting natives and honey bees.
A study from 2013 [1} shows almond pollination success is best when both honey bee colonies and native pollinator populations are strong. Apis mellifera (honey bee) pollination effectiveness was greater and fruit set was higher when non-Apis (native) bees were present. The researchers conclude “increased pollinator diversity can synergistically increase pollination service through species interactions that alter the behavior and resulting functional quality of a dominant pollinator species.” In summary, attracting native bees with cover crops and hedgerows is beneficial to orchards and farms in two ways 1) Native bees are very effective pollinators. Because they do not store honey, they are more interested in pollen and relatively less nectar than our honey bees. Native bees have messy collecting behavior which spreads around more pollen. Some species are also highly plant species specific in their foraging. These attributes are why they are the preferred pollinator for crops like, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, and alfalfa seed. They are also exceptional flyers and can pollinate during cold and wet weather events. 2) Their presence will cause honey bees to increase their movement between tree rows thereby improving pollination effectiveness in crops that are self-infertile, like almonds.
Brittain C, Williams N,Kremen C, Klein A-M. 2013 Synergistic effectsof non-Apis bees and honey bees forpollination services. Proc R Soc B280:20122767.http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.2767
What can I do to help bees?
Thanks for asking! There is so much you can do to help bees and other pollinators! Planting blooming plants in your garden and yard, mowing your lawn less frequently, using fewer pesticides in your yard, and spreading the word about organizations like Project Apis m. on your social networks are great ways to help! Donating to Project Apis m. supports impactfulresearch, forage programs like Seeds for Bees, and theBee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, and resources like educationand theBIP Tech Transfer Teams. If you are a grower, visit our Seeds for Bees web page for growersto find out how you can participate, and learn more. If you are a beekeeper, share the Benefits of Cover Cropswith the almond grower who rents your hives, and encourage them to plant cover crops. Some beekeepers offer a discount to almond growers for planting cover crops because their hives are noticeably stronger after the almond bloom when cover crops are present.
I am a grower and have technical questions about planting cover crops, or want to participate in Seeds for Bees, where can I learn more?
We have a page dedicated to the needs and concerns of growers, and grower-specific FAQs. Visit the links below to learn more about what participation means, and apply to enroll in the Seeds for Bees program!