June 30, 2017 —
A growing number of specialty crop growers are using alternative managed bees, including the cavity-nesting blue orchard bee (Osmia lignaria), to supplement or replace managed honey bee pollination of their crops. Researchers on the Integrated Crop Pollination project found that using blue orchard bees in addition to honey bees for California almond pollination improved almond nut set.
A new video released this week from Project ICP walks through the main steps to managing blue orchard bees (BOBs for short) for commercial-scale almond pollination.
Following a brief animated overview of the life cycle of the blue orchard bee, the video provides more detailed information on acquiring, managing, sanitizing, and propagating these mason bees.
The main steps to managing BOBs for almond pollination covered in the video:
- Purchase or trap wild BOBs
- Set up artificial nest materials
- Incubate cocoons until ready to release bees
- Ensure mud and additional forage are available
- Check on bees during active season
- Remove bees from the field
- Sanitize cocoons and nest materials
- Store over the dormant season
Visit the Integrated Crop Pollination Project’s Youtube page for playlists of videos about bees, pollination, and pollinator habitat. This video was produced on behalf of the Integrated Crop Pollination Project by Emily May and Katharina Ullmann (The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation) in collaboration with Project ICP research partners Theresa Pitts-Singer and Natalie Boyle (USDA-ARS, Pollinating Insects – Biology, Management and Systematics Research Unit, Logan, UT). This research is supported by the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Coordinated Agricultural Project (Award #2012-51181-20105).