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13646 Highway 33
Lost Hills, California,93249
Paramount Farms is the largest vertically integrated pistachio and almond grower and processor in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Located in California's fertile San Joaquin Valley, Paramount delivers more than 450 million pounds of nuts... more.
Director, Pollination Operations
S.A.F.E. Research and Development
Michigan State University
biology and plant ecology
Western Kentucky University
Gordon Wardell PAm Board Chairman, Dr. Gordon Wardell, is the Director of Pollination Operations, Wonderful Orchards, and President of the South Valley Bee Club. Gordon has been a professional apiculturist for over 30 years and has woked with bees on three continents. Previously he was the extension apiculturist for the State of Maryland and he owned and directed S.A.F.E. Research and Development in Tucson, Arizona, a company dedicated to developing products for the bee industry. Gordon's accomplishments include Mega-Bee, the honey bee nutritional supplement and years of research in the area of Varroa mite control, honey bee nutrition, fire ant monitoring, small hive beetle, Africanized Honey Bees, and many other topics. In addition, he has authored numerous scientific publications on honey bees.
Gordon Wardell, bee biologist for Paramount Farming Co., said some beekeepers are reporting bee losses between 40 percent and 60 percent.
In general, beekeepers say rental prices have risen this year to the $170-185 range, or $10-15 more than rental prices seen last year. Wardell serves as board chairman for Project Apis m., a nonprofit organization dedicated to honeybee research, and called efforts to bring nearly 2 million pollination-strength colonies into California for the almond bloom a testament to the proficiency and tenacity of our nations commercial beekeepers.
Gordon Wardell, Paramount Farming's lead bee biologist on this experiment, said the propagation project began five years ago, as Colony Collapse Disorder began seriously impacting honeybee hives.
The goal is to domesticate wild mason bees so as to assure a steady, predictable supply of these supplementary pollinators. The domestication process is complex and begins with trapping mason bees in the wild. Wardell negotiated with bee trappers in the Pacific Northwest, but found their prices too high. He now works with bee trappers in Utah and Idaho. "We don't want to overstress the resource," Wardell said. Eventually Wardell and his team hope a generation of bees capable of sustaining commercially viable numbers will emerge. Other obstacles encountered by the experimental program include natural predators such as wasps and beetles, which feed on the bees, as well as pesticide and fungicide spraying in proximity to nests and plants that the bees pollinate. There are many variables still to work with as far as optimizing mason bee propagation, but Wardell said he's confident he and his team will find the right combination that'll enable them to "get through the genetic bottleneck" and provide growers with a commercially viable supply of domesticated mason bees. •
Featured speaker is Dr. Gordon Wardell, renowned bee biologist, Chief of Apiary Operations, Paramount Farming, PAm Board Chairman, Developer of MegaBee and beekeeping experience for over 30 years.
Gordon Wardell, director of pollination operations at Paramount Farms