Backup pollinators: California almond, fruit producers hope blue orchard bees can reinforce honeybees


The need for a backup bee has become critical, particularly in almond orchards. Almonds are California’s second-largest crop, injecting an estimated $21 billion annually into the state’s economy. In 2016 California’s almond growers needed nearly 1.9 million honeybee colonies—almost three-quarters of all the commercial colonies in the country—to pollinate their 940,000 acres.

Annual colony losses in the U.S. for the past 11 years have ranged between 29 and 45 percent. Add in the ever-expanding almond acreage—from 570,000 acres in 2004 to more than a million today—and the entire system is stretched.

[The Wonderful Company, the largest almond grower in the world] chose to develop Osmia lignaria, a native mason bee known as the blue orchard bee, or BOB.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Bans on neonicotinoid insecticides may not actually help bees

In 2017 Wonderful needed about 76,000 honeybee colonies to pollinate its almonds (at two colonies per acre). But that number will diminish by 320 this spring because [Gordon Wardell, director of bee biology for the Wonderful Company] will put 128,000 female BOBs into the orchards—the largest deployment ever. If Wardell’s experiment succeeds, the results could have far-reaching implications for the almond industry as well as a host of other early-blooming crops—from apples and cherries to apricots and peaches. All told, more than a million and a half acres could benefit from having BOBs as a backup—if they prove worthy this year.

Read full, original post: Building a backup bee

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend