|Almond Growers/Bee Rentals BMP|
Best Management Practices for Almond Growers Renting Bees
Growers can help beekeepers in the pollination process of their crops.
- If possible, help your beekeeper locate flowering forage prior to and after almond bloom.
o Plant a cover crop on adjacent land:
- At perimeter of orchard
- Within younger orchards
- On fallow land
o Good examples of alternative food resources are mustard, clover or vetch.
- Water is important to prevent dehydration.
- Provide abundant and potable water, free from contamination.
- Landings and screens make water accessible and prevent bee drownings.
Access and Placement
- The distribution of colonies should be accessible and convenient at all times.
o Beekeepers need to place, service and remove hives routinely.
- Orchard roads should be maintained and graded for easy access.
- Allow hive placement in areas not prone to flooding or shade.
- Eastern and southern exposures are better for sun and warmer temperatures and encourage bee flight for pollination.
- Let bees do their job, place hives as to limit human and honey bee interaction.
- Let your beekeeper know the agricultural products used for crop protection, including tank mixes.
Application and Timing
- Honey bees come in contact with agricultural sprays in different ways:
o Bees may fly through the spray.
o Sprays may drift to hives via wind.
o Bees may collect and bring into the hive pollen that contains chemical residue.
- Management practices to minimize contact are:
o Spray when bees are not flying.
o Spray when pollen is not being produced by the tree.
o Time applications at night or when bees are not flying.
- Keep in contact with your beekeeper, especially prior to bloom.
- Inquire about supplemental feeding through the winter.
- Ask about colony collapses, Varroa infestations, honey crop, and over-wintering.
- Location, transportation and other factors can positively or negatively affect the strength of the colonies.
- Negotiate rental fee, number of colonies per acre, frames of bees per colony, and payment schedule.
- Discuss timing of hive placement prior to bloom and pick-up after bloom.
- A signed contract protects both grower and beekeeper.
- Visit "Downloads' at http://www.ProjectApism.org/ for a pollination contract template.
- Secure contracts early for the following season so beekeepers will make the investment in colony health and strength.
- When colonies arrive in the orchard, check colony strength; 8 to 10 frames is optimum.
- An objective third party inspection of colonies will confirm if contractual obligations have been met.
- Allow your beekeeper time and opportunity to provide additional colonies if needed.
- Walk your orchard during honey bee flight hours to make sure you see plenty of bee activity.