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Oct. 5, 2020

Almond Contracts: An Economist's Analysis with Brittney Goodrich, Ph.D (S3, E19)

In this episode, we invited Dr. Brittney Goodrich to discuss what her research has found in almond pollination contracts.  Brittney is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. She is an Agricultural Economist and...

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Dr. Brittney GoodrichIn this episode, we invited Dr. Brittney Goodrich to discuss what her research has found in almond pollination contracts.  Brittney is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. She is an Agricultural Economist and one of her favorite topics to research are the contracts between beekeepers and growers for pollination services. She is sitting in the middle of the biggest pollination contract industry in the world: Almond Pollination.

She did a survey of almond growers to find out what they think about pollination contracts. She looked at colony strength, number of colonies per acre, and number of frames per acre and cost. She asked about actual contracts, both formal and informal even including just a handshake and what happens when a beekeeper can’t fulfill a contract.

She also looked at the expanding role of pollination brokers, and beekeepers acting as brokers and the shared risk each of these three players have in this business.

Almonds growers continue to expand their acres, but they are using essentially all of the commercial honey bee colonies in the US right now. What happens when another 10,000 acres or more come on line in the next few years and what role do pesticide applications play in all this? And what pesticides are OK and which ones aren’t?

And what happens if colony health issues don’t go away? Can growers pay a little more so beekeepers can afford to keep colonies healthy? Can some of the risk be divided so everybody does better?

Brittney Goodrich explores all of these issues, and more. Listen in and learn.


Brittney provides Beekeeping Today Podcast listeners these points to include in a pollination agreement, whether written or verbal.

  • Specific contact information for grower or owner, and beekeeper, or broker
  • Crop and specific location
  • Number of colonies needed
  • Payment per colony based on agreed upon maximum and minimum strengths
  • Payment schedule, e.g. half on delivery, half when removed, other terms
  • Minimum strength and health of colonies that will be paid for and frames of bees, brood, queen, food
  • Minimum average frame count
  • Average strength to be paid for
  • Bonus for colonies exceeding average strength, per frame
  • Evaluation/inspection procedure and payment for services
  • Colony strength enforcement mechanisms
  • Delivery notification agreement, or per cent bloom, or specific date
  • Colony density per acre
  • Delivery access – gates, irrigation pipes, flooding, roads, assistance from grower
  • Removal date, per cent bloom, advance notice
  • Liability while on location for bees and equipment, injury of crew or non-crew individuals
  • Access during bloom for maintenance, advance notice, time of day or night
  • Location and colony count/drop minimum and maximum
  • Pesticide application warning and procedure
  • Compensation for pesticide damage applies by grower/owner
  • Additional fees for additional moves
  • Continuous water access
  • Contract cancellation or transfer
  • Acts of God

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:


Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayPodcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website:

This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will helpensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine destined for2 Million Blossomsyour coffee table. Each page of the magazine is dedicated to the stories and photos of all pollinators and written by leading researchers, photographers and our very own, Kim Flottum.


We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments:

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong", Musicalman, "Epilogue"

Brittney GoodrichProfile Photo

Brittney Goodrich

Assistant Professor of Cooperative Extension

Brittney Goodrich is an Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in a rural farming community in Iowa where uncertainty in agricultural production and marketing influenced family and friends on a daily basis, consequently leading to her current research interests.

Dr. Goodrich obtained a BS in Math and Economics at Iowa State University and Masters and PhD degrees in Agricultural Economics at University of California, Davis. Her research and extension program focuses on how California perennial crop growers and beekeepers address risk and uncertainty in their operations, enhancing the long-term sustainability of these industries.

A primary topic of interest is the use of contracts between almond growers and beekeepers in the almond pollination market, where the precariousness of honey bee colony health makes contracting practices important to grower and beekeeper profitability.