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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Baton Rouge, Louisiana » Honey Bee Lab » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #233805

Title: Flight activity of 4-lb Australian package bee colonies used for almond pollination.

item Danka, Robert
item Beaman, Glenda

Submitted to: Bee Culture
Publication Type: Research Notes
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2008
Publication Date: 5/1/2009
Citation: Danka, R.G., Beaman, G.D. 2009. A note on flight activity of 4-lb Australian package-bee colonies used for almond pollination.. Science of Bee Culture 1(2):1-18, supplement to Bee Culture 137(2).

Interpretive Summary: We measured overall flight activity and pollen collection of 28 APBCs and 28 overwintered colonies. Packages (Brown’s Bees Australia Pty Ltd., Mendooran, NSW) were 4-lb units imported and hived in mid January 2006. Overwintered colonies, which had been started as APBCs in spring 2005, were managed in southern California prior to being moved in early February together with the APBCs for pollination. All colonies were in 1½ story hives on 4-way pallets and were fed 2 gal of sucrose/fructose syrup and 1 lb of pollen patty. The bees were placed along a road between two 40-acre blocks of almonds near Delano, CA. In one block, ‘Sonora’, ‘Nonpareil, and ‘Mission’ ranged from early bloom to initial petal fall during the observation period. The other block of ‘Butte’ and ‘Padre’ had little bloom. Colony populations were obtained by measuring the coverage of each comb (estimated to the nearest 10% of a deep Langstroth comb) with adult bees and with sealed brood, and summing these counts to get equivalents of combs fully covered with bees and with brood.

Technical Abstract: Increasing acreage of almonds in California has increased the demand for honey bee colonies for pollination. Since 2005, domestic U.S. colonies have been supplemented with colonies started from package bees imported from Australia. The need for almond pollination in late winter in California fits well with the availability of bees in late summer in Australia. Little is documented, however, about how recently imported bees perform as pollinating units. We compared flight activity of Australian package bee colonies (APBCs) and overwintered colonies during almond bloom