How We Grow

2020 Jan/Feb How We Grow

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A L M O N D O R C H A R D 2 0 2 5 G O A L S PEST MANAGEMENT 5 beekeepers, researchers, regulators and the almond community. The BMPs provide almond growers with simple, practical steps that they, along with beekeepers and other pollination stakeholders, can take to protect and promote bee health in and around their orchards. As stated in the Honey Bee BMPs, almond growers and beekeepers are the two players most responsible for creating an environment that allows honey bees to do what almond trees need most – pollination – and that begins with effective communication between the grower and the beekeeper. But, in instances when spray applications are necessary, pest control advisers (PCAs), bee brokers and certified pesticide applicators (CPAs) may need to be involved to ensure that sprays are applied in a way that prevents harm to honey bees. The Honey Bee BMPs also instruct growers to avoid applying insecticides during bloom because of the applications' effects on honey bees, particularly to young bees developing in the hive. The only exception is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which can be applied safely because it is documented to be safe for both adult and immature bees. Because several alternative insecticide application timing options are available beyond bloom-time treatments, growers should be able to coordinate sprays appropriately to avoid making applications during bloom. Still, if sprays are necessary, they should be performed in the late afternoon or evening, when bees are done pollinating for the day. Growers and applicators must also avoid tank-mixing products (i.e., combining more than one formulated product) during bloom, as evidence from both field trials and controlled studies shows that bee losses in almonds have been associated with tank-mixing insecticides and bloom-time fungicides. 3,4 "I really credit the Almond Board for developing the BMPs," said Gene Brandi, a beekeeper based in Los Banos. Brandi has been involved in the bee industry since the 1970s and has served on the boards of both state and national beekeeping organizations. Brandi, his wife Christine and son Michael own about 2,000 colonies that support as many as 40,000 honey bees in the summer. "Everybody has been affected at some point by pesticide applications that hurt bees," Brandi said. "Still, the BMPs changed the behavior of many almond growers and pesticide applicators beginning in the 2015 bloom season. Growers are paying big money to rent these hives, so in addition to being responsible, it's in their best interest to strive to keep honey bees safe so that they can best pollinate the crop." BeeWhere simplifies hive tracking Shortly after the Almond Board published the Honey Bee BMPs in 2014, other organizations with vested interest in honey bee health developed programs that provide a channel for improved communications between stakeholders. These programs also ensure proper protocol is being followed during bloom, especially around spray applications. One of these programs, BeeWhere, was formed in 2017 by a coalition of stakeholders led by the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA), County Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA), Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA), 3 Mussen, Eric. 2013. Problems with almond bloom sprays. UC Apiaries newsletter, Jan./Feb. 2013. 4 Johnson, Reed. 2017. Effects of Insecticide-Fungicide-Adjuvant Combinations Commonly applied during bloom on Honey Bee Development and Survival. Almond Board of California 2017 Research Update, p. 47. Continued from page 4 "I really credit the Almond Board for developing the BMPs," said Gene Brandi, a Los Banos-based beekeeper who has been involved in the bee industry since the 1970s. "Traditionally, this coordination has been managed through a phone call, but now applicators will regularly text me with a Google Earth photo and a list of the products they intend to apply." – Gene Brandi

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