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Bee Culture

Cold Storage for Almond Bees

By February 1, 2023No Comments

Almond Update: Cold Storage for Bees Becoming More Popular

Using cold storage to house bee colonies in the winter is not a new practice but it is continuing to grow in popularity. Assistant Research Professor at Washington State University, Brandon Hopkins said that somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of bees deployed in California almond orchards are stored indoors in winter months. There is a cost saving for beekeepers, as well as other benefits to bee health and colony stability.

“Indoor storage allows the beekeepers to have full control over the temperature and climate and that stable temperature, the stable environmental conditions, gives more predictability to the condition of the colonies when they come out,” said Hopkins. “So, as long as the bees are in good shape, they’re healthy, and the beekeepers have done their work, then they have very low losses in these containers and a very high level of predictability.”

Keeping bees in a single area with a controlled environment also allows beekeepers to enhance the strength of individual colonies. Hopkins noted that beekeepers can experience significant losses of bees outside, which creates substantial challenges when it is time for almond pollination. Beekeepers can cull their indoor colonies in the fall to get a better understanding of what numbers will look like in January and February. That allows beekeepers and growers to make any potential adjustments when it comes time for pollination. Hopkins also said that colonies are generally healthier when they are stored indoors.

“Overall viral loads are lower for bees that are stored indoors versus outdoors in California,” Hopkins explained. “Nosema levels and varroa mite levels are lower indoors compared to outdoors in California, where the bees have the ability to fly and spread diseases and things like that.”

Several resources about cold storage of bee colonies are available from Project Apis m.

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