Almond pollination is officially underway in the orchards where our bees are located. In the image above, I count six pollen carriers, though one of them is disappearing into the entrance rather than standing around with the others. The orchard with the load from Pella is in substantial bloom, especially in the younger half of that planting. The trees where the Mount Vernon loads are located show fewer blossomes–maybe a 10% bloom, but significant pollen started coming into those hives today. Some other orchards in the same region are apporaching 80% bloom, though some are still at zero as well. Blossom watch does begin right around Valentine’s Day north of Sacramento, but last year, I saw virtually zero blossoms on my second trip to see the bees. This year we should be close to peak bloom when I leave. The temperatures are hovering in the upper 60s F, so the trees and bees are both moving along much faster than what I witnessed last year. There are even a fair number of mature drones already. Many hives had zero drones at this point in 2019.
Our job is a lot easier on this round. The ground is firm for this visit. January was wet, but it is shaping up to be the first February since 1864 with no significant rain storm rolling through the valley. I hope there is no drought shaping up for later in the year. For the moment, bloom conditions look excellent, and the January rains have the trees in pretty good shape with natural waterings that fell earlier in the year. We are potentially one month away from the first truckload of bees coming home to Iowa.
Here we are checking populations and food supplies going into bloom. Almonds don’t give a lot of nectar, so we don’t want them to sit out in California without some groceries stored up for security.
The other perk derived from the warm weather is more brood to work with for boosting weaker hives. Populations and brood status are generally impressive so far.
I will collect more images of the big bloom event as we go around over the next few days. The bees are buzzing with joy!!!