The California almond industry
is attracting the interest of beekeepers all over the country. The almond orchard's demands for honeybees is so
strong that many beekeepers in Florida have actually defaulted on their contracts with local watermelon producers
to bring their bees to the west coast where they lease their hives and bees to the almond
Almonds were first found growing
a long way from California's sunny landscape. The first almonds were found in China and central Asia. Franciscan
Padres first brought almonds to California in the middle of the 1700's, before the American revolution. It wasn't
until the early 1900's that almond lovers discovered that California's Central Valley had the perfect growing
conditions for genetically improved almond orchards. Nearly a half million of the land in California are devoted to
growing almonds. It is estimated that there are 5,500 almond growers in the state of California.
Today, California is the only
place in North America where almonds are successfully grown for commercial use. The reason that California is so
successful for almond producers is the climate conditions required for the almonds to grow. Almond trees love hot
summers and cool winters. Almonds don't grown in areas that are cold. Because almond trees are not self-pollinating
they require the use of honeybees in order to produce almonds. Every February, when the almond trees are in bloom,
beekeepers set-up beehives in the orchard, so that the almond growers can enjoy a lucrative harvest. The inability
to self-pollinate forces almond producers to plant multiple variety's of almond trees to hope to get a successful
crop for the year.
Almonds are harvested when the
split in the shell widens enough for the nut to dry. This typically happens between the middle of August into early
October. When the hull is completely open its time for the almond harvest to begin.
When its time to harvest the
almond crops, orchard owners have the orchards swept so that they are completely free of trash and waste. Once the
orchards are debris free, the mechanical tree shakers are brought in for action. The mechanical tree shakers gently
shake the almond trees. The almonds are left on the ground to finish drying. When the almonds are dry they are
swept into rows where they are gathered by a machine and deposited in the huller.
Nutritionally almonds have a lot
going for them. There are only seven grams of fat in one ounce (a single serving of almonds is one ounce). Almonds
do not have sodium and are cholesterol free. Almonds are an excellent way to get magnesium and vitamin E as well as
a great source of Riboflavin, Phosphorus and Copper.
75 percent of California's
almond crop is exported. For California's almond orchards to do good they must rely on honeybees for the