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The buzz about bees and almonds

The $7.6 billion Californian almond industry depends upon 30 billion bees – and they are under threat.

According to an article in the New York Times, the bee population upon which the almond industry depends to pollinate their trees is under threat from a variety of factors including disappearing natural food sources (due to drought and suburban sprawl, among other things) and destruction of colonies by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding. Chief among the bees’ enemies, though, is the Varroa mite which spreads a range of nasty viruses.

Pollination of a range of crops, of which almonds occupy the peak of the pyramid, is now a migratory practice with colonies of bees being trucked seasonally up and down the country in portable hives.

The article contains many interesting facts about bees and how they are essential to our food supplies and it’s well worth a read – especially if you’re in the dry nuts and fruit business.

Here’s a tidbit to whet your appetite (and worry you a little about how much we depend on the humble bumble): roughly one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination.

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