This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Almond Bloom - How it Affects Our Bees

Bees in almond grove
The Almond bloom in California a requires about 1 million colonies of bees. Beekeepers from around the country converge here in February.
Almond trees are a unique tree. They bloom in February and California is about the only place in the world that provides the proper growing temperatures.
Hive pollination fees range from $100 - $150 dollars per colony.
Normally the early trees bloom around Feb 8. Later variety's bloom a couple weeks later then, the late bloomers come in a couple weeks after that. By mid to late March it is usually over.
This year the bloom hasn't started yet. It looks like it will begin within the next few days.
My source for this report claims that this is the latest bloom in memory.
How does this affect us?
Being that there is no bloom happening, there is no pollen coming in. Queens can't be raised until fresh pollen is available. The drone population is lower without pollen coming in. Proper mating depends on large drone population and warm weather. Package bees can't be shaken until the bloom ends and pollination contracts are finished. My supplier of package bees does get permission from his almond grower to shake bees in the late stages of the bloom. Most almond growers don't allow this to happen until the last blossom falls off the trees.
Normally grafting of queens will start a week after the bloom starts. This year grafting will start three days after the bloom starts. The bloom will be intense with many trees bursting open at once. Pollen will be coming in large quantities.
All the California queen producers are all waiting for this to happen. This late grafting start may affect package bee delivery and early queen availability. Any delay should not be more than one week but it is to early to make any guess.