Better Bee Ready: Early Almond Blossom in California

Feb 15, 2022

An early almond bloom has California growers buzzing with anticipation.

And each year the state has to import over 2M beehives to help with the monumental pollination effort and add to the 500,000 hives residing in California year-round.

Bee basics: Bees are a critical part of the almond production process. The majority of CA almond tree varieties are self-incompatible, meaning that each blossom requires cross-pollination with another variety to produce an almond.

Soundbite: “With the boom in almond planting, demand has skyrocketed and more hives have had to be imported. On the flip side, it is challenging to increase hive supply in California due to the state’s Mediterranean climate, which limits the availability of floral resources in the summer and fall,” noted Jacob Wenger, assistant professor of entomology at California State University, Fresno.

Some nutty stats:

  • Almonds are California’s #2 agricultural crop at $5.9B in farmgate value.
  • A honeybee hive has on average 20,000 – 80,000 bees living in a colony.
  • Estimated cost of an eight frame hive for almond growers this year will be between $200 – $220 each.

On the road again. After the almond pollination season concludes around late March, many hives will disperse back across the nation, from Washington to the Upper Midwest, to continue pollination of other crops.