40,000 Acres of Blooming Cover Crops

SALT LAKE CITY – Jan. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — As beekeepers from across the U.S. arrive in California for the annual almond pollination season next month, their hives will be placed in orchards soon to be teeming with white almond blossoms and, increasingly, blooming cover crops and wildflowers.

Now in its 7th year, Project Apis m.’s (PAm) Seeds for Bees program has distributed nearly 40,000 acres of blooming plant seeds to California farmers, increasing the diversity, density, and duration of available bee forage while improving sustainability and soil health.

Yellow blooming brassicas and bell beans provide a nutritional boost to pollinators while adding organic matter to the soil, fixing nitrogen, and retaining water in this Seeds for Bees® planting in Chico, CA.

PAm cover crops and seed mixes help “jump start” the hive prior to the almond bloom by creating a positive feedback loop.

“Almond pollen is 25% protein and provides all 10 of the amino acids their diets require so honey bees love it,” said Billy Synk, Director of Pollination Programs for PAm. “When you add blooming cover crops or even hedgerows into the mix, almond orchards can provide sustained nutrition for pollinating honey bees and other pollinators.” Proper nutrition is a crucial part of honey bee health. A healthy diet helps mitigate damage from other health threats facing honey bees including Varroa mites, pathogens and pesticide exposures.

The Seeds for Bees mixes bloom at critical times of the year when natural forage is scarce but managed and native bees are active. While the mixes are designed to meet the nutritional needs of honey bees, they also provide habitat and nutrition for other pollinators and beneficial insects. Through research supported both by PAm and the Almond Board of California, studies have shown that these bee pastures are fully compatible with typical almond production practices and do not interfere with important farming activities like harvest.

Not only does this practice support beekeepers by providing more diverse nutrition for bees, it also brings benefits to farmers by adding organic matter to the soil, increasing water infiltration, reducing erosion, and providing a natural weed control.

“With a crop that relies primarily on honey bees for pollination, it is in almond farmers’ best interest to ensure their orchards are a safe place for bees each spring,” said Synk. “As we approach another pollination season, many almond farmers continue to be good partners as we develop and deploy collaborative solutions for healthier pollinators and a more secure food supply.”

Providing technical assistance and free seed for farmers to plant cover crops in California’s agricultural landscapes is just part of PAm’s mission. In addition to the Seeds for Bees program, PAm also uses donated funds for applied research studies, for equipment bee research labs need, and provides graduate scholarships to support new bee scientists in their pursuit of science-based solutions. PAm is supported by a diversity of donors including beekeepers and growers, industry partners, and corporate sponsors. Learn more and donate at www.ProjectApism.org/support-us.

“The challenges facing honey bees are complex and constantly evolving. Working together with organizations like the Bee Informed Partnership, the Almond Board of California, the Honey Bee Health Coalition and many more, along with many researchers, almond farmers and beekeepers, we can achieve far more collectively than we can separately,” said Danielle Downey, executive director of PAm. “These collaborations, focused on research and data, communication and forage, are a critical component to the long-term sustainability of beekeeping and almonds.”

About Project Apis m.
Project Apis m. (PAm) is the go-to organization at the interface of honey bees and pollinated crops. Since 2006, we’ve infused over $8 million into honey bee research and projects to provide healthier bees, resulting in better pollination and increased crop yields for the grower, and lower losses and better honey production for the beekeeper. We work closely with commercial beekeepers, growers, and top bee scientists in the USA and Canada to direct strategic efforts focused on practical solutions. PAm funds research studies, purchases equipment for research labs, supports graduate students through scholarships to encourage careers in pursuit of science-based solutions to honey bee challenges and has expanded efforts to enhance honey bee health and nutrition by putting forage on the landscape where bees need it most. We are a 501(c)5 nonprofit organization governed by a ten-member board. Our board members include beekeepers, pollinators and honey producers representing major national and state industry organizations. PAm also has six scientific advisors who review proposals with the board.

Learn more at www.ProjectApism.org
Name: Sharah Yaddaw
Phone: 916-287-3035
Email: Sharah@ProjectApism.org