What is Bee Friendly Farming?

Bee Friendly Farming Certification is administered by the Pollinator Partnership and acts as a third-party verification means to validate our commitment to a wide range of orchard management practices that collectively help provide a more favorable environment for all pollinators. This includes a lot more species than just your familiar honey bee. In fact, over 16001 bee species have been recorded in California alone. But other species can act as pollinators too and include butterflies and moths; other insects like beetles; and even small mammals, bats and birds2. Our ecosystem is diverse and complex and the science-based farm management practices that a Bee Friendly Farming Certification requires recognizes this and demands a comprehensive approach.

Select Harvest USA's Bee-Friendly Compliance – by the Numbers

19,215.5Acres of Planted Almonds Certified as Bee Friendly Farming
2,064Acres of Identified Permanent Pollinator Habitat
3,046Cover Crop Coverage
12,750Number of Hives During Bloom (2021)

Integrated Pest Management

Our farm management practices have long included an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. In essence, such a program seeks to reduce or even eliminate the use of chemical applications for managing pests by adopting practices other than spraying to help monitor and control pest outbreaks. These practices might include pheromone trapping, mating disruption and even orchard cleanings that remove over-wintering material for pests. When chemical applications are necessary, our IPM program helps us determine when and where to apply chemicals so that we are targeting only the impacted areas and applying just the right amount. Our IPM also demands that we factor in weather conditions like potential for rain and wind speeds when determining which chemicals we use and how we are to apply them. This reduces the risk of drift or run off of our chemicals protecting the environment from unintended consequences. This might mean that we apply chemicals at night, or stop allocation at row ends to avoid sensitive areas.

Forage, Habitat and Nesting Areas

Providing forage (food sources), habitat and nesting areas for pollinators is another important requirement for Bee Friendly Farming Certification. To date, we have identified almost 50 different sites totaling over 860 acres as permanent, non-farmed habitat for pollinators. These sites can be as simple as unmanaged ground next to a drainage ditch or headland where open ground for tunneling species and native plants for forage are allowed to exist or could be as dramatic as riparian habitat next to seasonal creeks and drainage areas. We even have naturally occurring year-round ponds on a couple of our orchards. While these habitat spaces are generally unmanaged to provide a natural landscape, managed habitat like ‘bee gardens’ and hedgerows area ideas we’re considering to continue to enhance our habitat and forage diversity.

Cover Crops

Cover crops are an important part of our Bee Friendly Farming program as well. After harvest, cool weather loving plants like vetch, clovers, radishes and mustards are allowed to grow between our orchard rows. These plants bloom late winter and into spring and are some of the first forage plants for pollinators. Their presence has even been shown to aide in honey bee colony strength3, which can enhance our pollination events. When finished, our cover crops are incorporated back into the soil boosting soil health.

1 http://calag.ucanr.edu/Archive/?article=ca.v063n03p113

2 https://www.pollinator.org/pollinators

3 https://www.almonds.com/almond-industry/orchard-management/cover-crops-and-forage