Just a few highlights of the almond industry in California provides food for thought. No wonder farmers sing the praises of bees as indispensible pollinators. Their work can never end and their results are simply astounding. Honey bees play a dramatic role in our world.
Just give these figures a roll around the brain:
California has -
- 810,000 acres of almonds;
- 90,720,000 almonds trees;
- each tree yields about 7,000 almonds;
- probably a 1.85 billion pound 2013 almond crop;
- 700 billion individual almonds.
- 2.54 trillion almond flowers needing pollination in the Central Valley.
- Each almond acre needs a minimum of two hives — 1,620,000 hives needed each February. California gets 400,000 hives from home, the rest are trucked in from out of state.
- Trailers hold 200-400 colonies; therefore 3,000-6,000 transport trucks are needed.
As can be gleaned from these numbers, a tremendous number of pollinator bees are required in February for Central Valley alone. Jabr writes:
More than 31 billion honeybees converge on California’s Central Valley each February to pollinate the almond trees. By the end of the bloom, having gathered plenty of nectar and pollen to feed their colonies, the honeybee population in the orchards may exceed 80 billion. These are the kinds of numbers you need when you're dealing with something like 2.5 trillion flowers . . .
The bees do their busy work for a month or two and then complete their jobs. They are moved into citrus groves, or into rangeland. Some find themselves rented out to California farms or head up north to work the cherry and apple orchards. Still others pollinate alfalfa fields or acres of sunflowers, vegetables in Texas, cranberries in Wisconsin, blueberries in Maine – they’re going where the work is and the bosses send them.
It becomes truly apparent how intricate the bond is between pollinators and plants. Lose one and know that it won’t be long before you lose the other. Bees must pollinate or forget about agriculture. So on the one hand - the almonds example - one flourishes only with the other. Take one away and lose both.
The miniscule buzzing bees are directly responsible for $20 billion in U.S. crop values.
Jabr puts it succinctly: “The California almond industry hosts the biggest pollination event on earth.”
Source: Farm Press
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