Gordon Wardell, senior biologist and bee expert for Paramount Farming Company, the nation's largest almond producer, says hives are already pulling in by the truckload for what has been called "the great promiscuity" by the beekeepers who attend.
Scientists and beekeepers alike wonder if, in this vast melting pot of insects, dangerous pathogens could be exchanged as bees from different hives visit the same flowers.
The question matters hugely as so-called "colony collapse disorder," or CCD, over the past four years has killed up to a third of all honeybees in the United States, accelerating an existing decline in native pollinators in North America and Europe.
says, beekeepers arriving for the festivities this year "are all saying the same thing about their hives - 'looking good' - so far.'"
says many almond growers, too, are looking for ways to work more cooperatively with native bees.
"It's always a challenge to find enough bees to pollinate Paramount Farms' 45,000 acres of almonds.
said the company has put some effort into installing stretches of wild plantings along the farms' roadsides and borders, the semiarid region has never been home to a large population of native bees.
found a promising understudy to the honeybee.
Although it has to be plied with artificial heating to emerge from its nest in time for the almond bloom, the blue orchard bee, Osmia lignaria, from Utah, is an efficient pollinator with many characteristics an almond grower would appreciate.
After making a stop by Paramount's Osmia breeding enclosures, Wardell
satisfaction with the progress of the emerging young insects.
conceded it will take a while to work out the best techniques for the propagation, release and recovery of this wild species.
added hopefully that they seem to get along well with the honeybees, and that with their divergent lifestyles and behaviors he
might even like to see the two species work the groves together.