UC Davis work on bee health and pollination gets boost from popular snack maker

Two bees pollinate a lavender.
Wildflowers in an open garden.
These plots at the UC Davis Student Farm are part of a study exploring how different wildflower mixes help bees and other pollinators.

The KIND Foundation has pledged $150,000 to help UC Davis work on bee health and pollination led by Professor Neal Williams in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. Support for the Williams Lab is part of a larger effort by KIND Health Snacks to source all of its almonds from bee-friendly farmland throughout the world.

“As an agricultural community, we need to make real change to ensure long-term bee health,” Williams said. “KIND’s commitment to bee-friendly practices in its supply chain is the sort of actionable approach that will move the dial toward more sustainable practices industrywide.”

California grows the vast majority of the world’s almonds, which need honey bees and other insects for pollination. However, a variety of factors are negatively affecting bee health, including poor nutrition from insufficient foraging habitat and certain pesticides that are harmful to pollinators.

The KIND Foundation support will further UC Davis efforts to collaborate with researchers from throughout the United States and internationally to advance work on pollinator health. One focus is addressing knowledge gaps and consensus for best management of cover cropping and other habitat diversification within almond landscapes. The Williams Lab is working with plant sciences professor Amelie Gaudin in this effort.

Williams also has grown demonstration plots at UC Davis, working closely with Student Farm Director Katharina Ullmann and Lead Gardener Julia Schreiber. In addition, his team partners directly with farmers to show how various mixes of native flowering plants can be used in tandem with almonds, as well as other crops, to support pollinator health.

Research on areas of greatest pesticide risk to pollinators is another priority. The Williams Lab is developing predictive models and practical tools that beekeepers and growers can use to determine areas and times of greatest potential pesticide risk for bees and developing strategies to mitigate these risks.

The KIND Foundation’s commitment will also help graduate students take on innovative projects, participate in industry meetings and ensure financial flexibility to achieve academic goals. To learn more about UC Davis research, education and outreach on bee health and pollinator-floral interactions, please visit the Williams Lab.

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