Almond Board of California — Honey bees and almonds form a partnership designed by nature. They both evolved in the same Mediterranean region and help each other prosper.
Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we consume, beyond just almonds.
Just like almonds are a nutritious snack for us, almond pollen is very nutritious for honey bees, providing all 10 of the essential amino acids their diets require.
When almond trees bloom, bees get their first nutritious food source of the year as they pollinate almond orchards. Bee hives regularly grow in strength and size during almond bloom and consistently leave stronger than when they arrived.
Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture released in June 2021 found that amygdalin – a naturally occurring compound in the nectar and pollen of almond trees – can reduce honey bee viruses and gut parasites, which are some of the leading threats to bee health and colonies.
Every almond you eat comes from a flower once pollinated by a bee.
California’s almond bloom is the largest pollination event annually in the world, with beekeepers from most US states supplying nearly a million beehives (close to half the beehives in America) for this event.
Each almond flower is receptive to pollen for one to three days.
Almond trees produce roughly 20,000 blossoms, depending on size and variety.
Bees have furry little bodies and legs – honey bees have almost 3 million tiny hairs on their bodies – so pollen sticks to them like lint on a black sweater. They carry the pollen back to their hive, but some drops off onto other flowers or blows to almond blossoms in the breeze.
Bees can often strip an almond orchard of pollen by midafternoon on many days, collecting all the pollen available then moving to neighboring flowers and landscape before returning to the hive before night. Then, orchards produce a new pollen crop every day, so the cycle continues until the orchard finishes flowering.
Some orchards have more than 6 million flowers per acre during bloom. Thanks to ideal Central Valley weather, supportive bee work and good orchard management, often 25%-30% of those flowers become the almonds that you eat.
Bloom lasts about 2-3 weeks per variety, and because most orchards have more than one variety, an average bloom lasts about six weeks through a whole orchard.
Honey bees are major pollinators on which we depend, but native pollinators, including butterflies and other bee species and insects are also essential.
The California almond community has funded over 100 research projects supporting honey bees, more than any other crop group.
The California almond community works hard in the orchard to support honey bee health during bloom and beyond.
The almond community’s five-point Pollinator Protection Plan outlines steps farmers are taking in their orchards to keep bees safe during bloom as well as how they’re supporting honey bee health all year round.
The Almond Board of California established Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California almond growers using research insights and in partnership with universities, government agencies, nonprofits and other institutions. The Bee BMPs provide key recommendations to help keep orchards orchard a safe place for honey bees, protect the developing crop, and give hives the opportunity to grow.