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Almonds, Wildflowers and Bees

Almonds, Wildflowers, Bees, Oh My!

Some almond growers have started planting wildflowers on the edges of managed fields as a way to help bees do their jobs in the face of pollinator pressures. There are, however concerns that the wildflowers may pull valuable pollination services away from the almond crops. New research reveals that almond growers can put this particular concern aside.

The study notes that planting wildflowers next to almond orchards does not cause fewer honey bees to visit the orchard. This finding is important because it shows wildflower plantings can help keep bee populations healthy while also not harming almond crops.

“The high honey bee visitation rates to the flower plantings suggest benefits of wildflower plantings for honey bees,” said Ola Lundin of the University of California, Davis, one of the researchers and an author on the paper. “Such benefits may include the ability to support or increase bee population sizes before and after almond bloom and increased resistance to harmful effects of pesticides and pathogens through a more diverse diet.”

This research was supported through a five-year NIFA grant to the Integrated Crop Pollination project (ICP), funded by NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Michigan State University (MSU) leads this collaboration of scientists from 10 universities and other public and private partners to develop sustainable pollination strategies and offer resources and education for growers and consumers.

Read more in Entomology Today.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.

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