Catch Up With The Almonds

Almond Tuesday 1
Met with pollination broker Joe Traynor and USDA bee researcher Frank Eishen and others breakfast at 6:30 the first day in Bakersfiled. Frank and his two technicians, all from Weslaco, TX USDA Honey Bee Research Lab are here to study bloom time, pollination efficiency and bee density. They’ll make three trips here to get data on final yield, funded by Almond Board and others. We’ll see more of what they are doing later….it’s a lot of ladder time…truly the unglorius work of research.
Over To Joe Traynor’s office for some maps and info, then head west from Bakersfield looking for early, medium and late blooming almonds for photos of full, partial and no bloom orchards side by side. Found some, good photos.
Called Gordon Wardell, Paramont Farming, to meet to visit his inspection teams…they inspect the colonies they rent with their own teams…they rent over 90,000+ colonies…using handheld bar code readers so they can tell who’s bees they are (beekeeper applies bar code to his own bees), plus the reader gives exact gps location of drop, plus reader generates random numbers to tell crew which colonies at each drop to inspect…they inspect 15% of all 90+,000 colonies giving frames of bees count. They want 8 frame minimum average…and pay a bonus for 10 and more for 12.
Then to Paramont’s mason bee experiments. Orchards set up to see what density of female mason bees give optimum pollination. This work being done by USDA Logan UT Honey Bee Lab and a California company called Pacific Pollination. Large feeding and cooling facility on one of the ranches left over from an apple processing plat that used to be on the ranch. Impressive.
Supper back in Bakersfield at Wool Growers, a Basque food place, with about 35 – 40 beekeepers, families and others.
Wednesday on to unloading bees in the dark, and examining a patty making operation. Stay tuned.


Joe Traynor shared dozens of township maps showing where the orchards are that his beekeepers are working in, and where there were both late and early blooming almonds. Joe’s help has been invaluable in finding the basics, and the extremes on this trip.

David Winter’s netted boom truck, waiting in the hotel parking lot at 5 AM

The boom in action. Dave could probably thread a needle with this thing, he’s that good

One of the inspection crews at Paramount Farming

The handheld device that gives the gps location of every set, scans the bar code to identify the beekeeper that owns the hives on the pallet, and assigns a random number so the inspectors know which hives to inspect, removing any inspector bias.

One of the mason bee nesting boxes Paramount Farming is experimenting with.

1 Comment

  • Dr Jody Johnson says:

    I have four questions on almonds.
    What is the current average rental price of a honey bee hive(#frames) for pollination service in almonds (2014)?
    What is the average number of hives/ac that are placed in almond orchards(2013 or 2014)?
    What is the average yield of almonds/ac(2013 or 2012)?
    What references or websites might contain the answers to these questions? I am writing a paper and I need to have some really current info. Thank you very very much if you can provide this.
    By the way, I do not have a social network account. Please reply to my email address above.
    Again thanks,

Comments are closed.