Analysis of the Feasibility and Efficacy of Sustainable Pollinator Bee Certifications for Almond Producers in California

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2020-04-22

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Abstract

California’s almond pollination period is the largest pollination event in the world due to the vast almond acreage spanning the state and the crop’s dependence on pollination by managed honey bees. Since 1996, almond acreage in the state has increased fourfold from 428,000 to 1,700,000 acres. California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, and 70% of US honey bee hives are transported to the state each year to meet the pollination demand. However, managed honey bee populations continue to decline nationwide, which threatens the almond industry. Experts attribute this decline to pesticide toxicity, lack of diverse and abundant nutrient and pollen sources, and stress from transportation. Several scientifically supported farm management practices show efficacy in protecting and supporting managed honey bee populations in almond orchards. Current analyses show that a majority of almond producers have not adopted these bee-friendly practices. By analyzing the feasibility and attractiveness of certification systems to almond producers in California, this project examines the opportunity to use a certification to incentivize growers to adopt recommended practices to support managed honey bee health. Results indicate that almond producers desire a bee-friendly certification yet confirm that bee-friendly practices are not widely adopted. Further, there is evidence that adoption rates and barriers for implementing bee-friendly practices differ by region, suggesting the need for a new certification that is both effective in supporting pollinator health and feasible for growers to implement.

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McNamara, Emily (2020). Analysis of the Feasibility and Efficacy of Sustainable Pollinator Bee Certifications for Almond Producers in California. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20473.


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