You may have heard of the potential problems with the pollination of the Almond trees in California. The problem concerns the decreasing Bee colonies that would traditionally pollinate the almond crop. Presently the solutions are to ship in Bee colonies to propagate the Trees and the developement of self polinating trees.
- The pollination of California’s almonds is the largest annual managed pollination event in the world, with close to one million hives (nearly half of all beehives in the USA) being trucked in February to the almond groves.
- Much of the pollination is managed by pollination brokers, who contract with migratory beekeepers from at least 49 states for the event. This business has been heavily impacted by colony collapse disorder, causing nationwide shortages of honey bees and increasing the price of insect pollination.
- To alleviate almond growers from the rising cost of insect pollination, researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have developed a new line of self-pollinating almond trees. Self-pollinating almond trees, such as the ‘Tuono’, have been around for a while, but their harvest is not as desirable as the insect-pollinated California ‘Nonpareil’ almond tree. The ‘Nonpareil’ tree produces large, smooth almonds and offers 60–65% edible kernel per nut.
- The ‘Tuono’, however, has thicker, hairier shells and offers only 32% of edible kernel per nut, but having a thick shell has advantages. The ‘Tuono’s’ shell protects the nut from threatening pests such as the navel orangeworm.
- ARS researchers have managed to cross-breed the pest-resistant ‘Tuono’ tree with the ‘Nonpareil’, resulting in hybridized varieties of almond trees that are self-pollinated and maintain a high nut quality. The new, self-pollinating hybrids possess quality skin color, flavor, and oil content, and reduce almond growers’ dependency on insect pollination.
The National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that there were
2.44 million honey-producing hives United States February 2008,
4.5 million in 1980,
5.9 million in 1947,
Though these numbers underestimate the total number of managed hives as they exclude several thousand hives managed for pollination contracts only, and also do not include hives managed by beekeepers owning fewer than 5 hives.
This under-representation may be offset by the practice of counting some hives more than once; hives that are moved to different states to produce honey are counted in each state’s total and summed in total counts
The mechanisms of CCD are still unknown, but many causes have been proposed as causative agents: malnutrition, pathogens, immunodeficiencies, mites, fungus, pesticides, beekeeping practices (such as the use of antibiotics, or long-distance transportation of beehives) and electromagnetic radiation.