Welcome to the third edition of our most popular blog series (view posts from 2019 & 2020). We’re just a few short weeks away from everyone’s favorite time of year. That’s right, I’m talking about almond pollination.
Before we get started, do yourself a favor and check out our new resources that outline everything you need to set yourself up for a successful pollination season. Our Ultimate Hive Grading Playbook outlines the key pieces of a successful hive grading process. Our Pollination Contract Best Practices offers ideas for growers to improve the odds of getting the best bees. And if you’re an almond grower who doesn’t rent hives, read this post to learn why you should reconsider.
2021 price per hive
Now that you’ve got the right resources on hand, let’s talk about pricing. Here’s what almond growers reported they’re paying for bees this year:
- Low: $175
- High: $220
- Average: $199
Remember, when it comes to pollination, you get what you pay for. It’s best not to go bargain hunting for bees. If you pay a below-average rate, you should expect below-average bees. If you’re working with a limited budget, there are better ways to save than simply shopping for the lowest bidder (see: Pollination Contract Best Practices).
There are several interesting factors at play in the market for pollination this season. Here are a few big ones:
- Almond prices are down
- Record-breaking 2020 harvest
- Ideal weather for 2020 pollination
- Oh yeah, COVID
It’s not hard to imagine how any one of these factors could create a major shift in the almond pollination market, but it doesn’t appear that prices have moved much in the short term. Though prices may be steady for now, one change to look out for is a decrease in hive placement rate (number of hives per acre). Rather than seeking cheaper hives, growers on a tight budget might consider cutting the number of hives they typically rent.
For a deep dive into how COVID might impact almond pollination, check out this post.
There’s no doubt this almond pollination season will be an interesting one. I think results from the last two seasons have gone a long way to boost growers’ confidence in beekeepers. Growers are anticipating a third consecutive year of excellent pollination. Time will tell whether beekeepers can once again step up and deliver.