University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources

Client Stories

Africanized honey bees on the way; UCCE finds non-honey bee substitute for alfalfa pollination

In the 1990s, California was the nation’s largest producer of alfalfa seed. But because growers relied heavily on honey bees for pollination, there was growing concern about the imminent arrival of Africanized, so-called “killer” bees. These more-aggressive, harder-to-manage bees would require different handling and involved more risk than the more familiar European honey bees, and as such they had the potential to increase alfalfa production costs and possibly reduce yields. A team of UCCE researchers partnered with local growers to study the viability of introducing the alfalfa leafcutting bee as a replacement for honey bees. After three years of data collection and analysis, grower-education field days, and community feedback, the alfalfa leafcutting bee was introduced to commercial fields. It now plays a crucial role in pollinating California’s alfalfa seed fields. Several growers have reported that if it weren’t for this research and extension work, they would no longer be in business.

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