California Gets Wet

It has been a few weeks since we left California, but it had me head over heels with spring in full force. Beautiful flowers like lupine, fiddleneck, and rosemary have replaced all the almond flowers that the bees came here for. Beekeepers are the midst of moving their bees back home by the truckload. Northwest beekeepers manage their bees for many pollination crops, but almond is the most notable crop they visit. They need high stocking rates and unseasonably ready bees with an early bloom. The bees also gain an advantage by going to almonds. Almonds boost the bees with pollen and drones which leave them raring for upcoming stone fruit pollination

For many beekeepers, this year’s almond pollination routine was a very different experience than in recent years. The five previous California winters were bone dry which brought warm sunny days and sturdy dry soil for moving bees in and out of the almond orchards. This year was different. California reported its second wettest winter in recorded history. What does a lot of rain do? I’ll let these photos speak for themselves. Scroll down to view the chaos.

Questions of interest: Do high rain levels increase the amount of fungicide sprays during bloom? How will standing water in orchards affect almond yields and market prices?

Standing water in an almond orchard.


An orchard road after several muddy trips.


What was once a small stream near an orchard. Photo credit: Kate Womack


A truck stuck in the mud. Photo credit: Kate Womack



Written By: Ellen Topitzhofer

Ellen Topitzhofer has written 2 post in this blog.