Which crop is most dependent on bee pollination to survive?

And the answer: almonds.    
Photo credit: public domain.

While many crops greatly benefit from bees, almonds are entirely dependent on bee pollination. For example, the California almond industry needs 1.8 million honey bee colonies—not individual bees—to pollinate the nearly 1.2 million acres of almond-bearing orchards in California’s Central Valley.

Among the pink and white blooms of Central California’s almond orchards, the low buzz of bees can be heard from all around. Between February and March of each year, honey bees flock to the blossoming almond trees in California for nectar, and while they may come for the sweet smell, they leave a trail of pollinated flowers behind them. This relationship is essential to both the bee and the tree—in fact, every almond that you eat is made possible by honey bee pollination.

Just as almonds are a nutritious snack for us, almond blossoms are packed with nutrients that are good for bees. All 10 amino acids that bees require in their diets can be found in almond pollen, so most bees leave the orchards much stronger than they came.

In California’s Central Valley, the temperate weather combined with active orchard management and bee care allows for orchards with as many as six million flowers per acre during bloom. These blooms usually last for two to three weeks, but with different varieties in an orchard, a bloom season can last as long as six weeks.

Did you know?

Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food you eat! Most of the food we eat comes from flowering plants, and more than 80% of the world’s flowering plants need a pollinator to reproduce. Thanks to the help of pollinators like bees, we can enjoy foods such as fruits, vegetables, chocolate, coffee, nuts, and spices—to name a few.
Learn more about bees, flowers and almond trees here.

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