We all know that bees are the kings (well…queens) of pollination. But have you heard the buzz on why bees are so important to almond production, and why the almond industry helps support healthy bee colonies? Here at Heart Ridge Farms, we want to give credit where credit is due—so we’ve written this article as an ode to bees and the role that they play in the production of our favorite snack: almonds.
Pollinators Make the World Go ‘Round
When we hear buzzing in the Heart Ridge Farms orchards, we don’t go running. In fact, we rejoice, because bees are the most important critter when it comes to almond production. In case you don’t remember from your elementary science class, pollination is the transferring of pollen grains from the male part of the flower (the anther) to the female part of the flower (the stigma). And pollinators—the animals, insects, and bugs that partake in the act of pollination—are key to producing healthy crops. A study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization notes that pollinators contribute to 35 percent of our global food production. Furthermore, according to the USDA, bees are also “essential components of the habitats and ecosystems that many wild animals rely on for food and shelter.” When it comes to pollination, bees are the number one pollinator around, and safe to say that we as humans need them to live.
Why Almonds Love Bees
When it comes to almonds, bees truly make it all possible— as in, if we were giving an Oscar speech, we’d thank bees first. A hive’s main role is to cross-pollinate, a vital function almond trees need to produce almonds. Bee hives are placed in almond fields where the bees visit blooming trees and pollinate blossoms, with each fertilized flower eventually becoming an almond. Hives are introduced to fields in February and March— a time of year when most plants aren’t blooming yet and many pollinators are less active. Since beekeepers are able to move their hives cross-country, bees are the main pollinator during this early season in almond groves, making pollination and the mass production of almonds possible. Not only that, but bees are the perfect pollinator for almond trees. According to BeeAware, the almond flower has a deep central pollen tube, and bees have the perfect body mechanisms for transferring this pollen. That said, California’s almond production alone needs the power of around 2 million hives altogether for pollination according to Brittney Goodrich, a bee economist. Safe to say, bees are an almond’s best friend.
Why Bees Love Almonds
This relationship isn’t a one way street. While almonds need bees, bees are also pretty fond of almonds. As hives are placed in the almond orchards early in the year, the pollination period of almonds gives bees their first source of food each spring. Not only that, but the Almond Board of California notes that almond blooms offer incredibly nutritious pollen for bees, with all 10 of the essential amino acids they need to be healthy. Not only are almond blooms healthy for the individual bees, but according to Ramesh Sagili who works at the Oregon State University Department of Horticulture, “honey bee hives routinely leave stronger after visiting during almond bloom” and “beekeepers can then split many of the hives to grow their apiaries.” With the current agricultural climate, bees are actually experiencing a global decline, but almond blooms mean healthier hives. It’s easy to see why almonds aren’t just in love with bees, but bees feel the same way about almonds.
Bee’s Are Our Favorite Too
The symbiotic relationship between bees and almonds isn’t very well known, but it’s definitely hard to forget. That’s why we wanted to create this ode to bees, the tiniest but mightiest critter involved in our almond fields. Bees make the world go round, and keep us munching on our favorite snack. We hope this article helps grow your love for bees—and that you thank them next time you grab a handful of delicious Heart Ridge Farms almonds! Happy snacking!