According to the Vegan Society:
"A vegan is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing coming from animals - no meat, milk, eggs or honey, for example."
www.vegansociety.com, retrieved 26 November, 2010
While many fruits and vegetables can be pollinated without bees, almonds require honey bees for pollination. If there are no honey bees, there are no almonds.
80% of the world's almonds are produced in California. Commercial pollination of almond trees takes place over a span of 22 days in February. This is an impossible task for local bees to complete: there are too many trees to pollinate and too few bees. To pollinate the trees, almond growers must import bees from all over the country.
In 2006, a million bee hives were loaded onto trucks and brought to California to work for the almond growers. That is around 40 billion honey bees. Half of all the honey bees in the USA, trucked from all across the nation to perform slave-labor in California's almond orchards.
For 2011 it is projected that 1.7 million hives will be required. 70% of the US honey bee supply.
The bees are fed high fructose corn syrup to combat fatigue and ensure the hives can perform their orchard duties. Researchers are still undecided as to how harmful this is to the bees.
Further, the annual communion of bees has led to the spread of bee diseases and parasites across the country. The bees gather in California, swap all that is communicable, and then return with their hives back to their home states. This is a possible factor the colony collapse disorder (CCD) that has been plaguing bee colonys in recent years.
The Almond and the Bee (SFGate), retrieved 26 November, 2010
Honey bee research is solution to almond industry's pollination needs (Western Farm Press), retrieved 26 November, 2010
It means almonds are not vegan.
It also means that if you feel it is OK to eat almonds, you are not vegan.
And, if you happen to be one of those preachy, self-righteous vegans, it means that eating almonds makes you a horrible hypocrite.