Flowering almond trees in California's Central Valley
© Jeffrey Lewis/Tandem Stills + Motio
It’s showtime for a precious crop
Nestled in California's verdant Central Valley, this almond orchard is in full bloom. If we zoomed in closer, we might see billions of honey bees hard at work moving pollen from one blossom to another, doing their vital work to pollinate the trees so they can produce their valuable crop. Almond orchards are a thriving $6 billion business here in the valley. California produces around 80% of the world's almonds and booming demand means production has more than doubled in the past few years, despite threats from drought and wildfires.
To keep up with that demand, orchards pay American beekeepers from as far away as Florida to truck in their hives each February when the trees are in bloom. More than half of the US domesticated honey bee population is needed to work the orchards. Next time you gobble down a handful of almonds, think of the humble honey bee. Without bees, there would be no almonds.