Demand for bees drives up rental fees for hives
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Demand for bees drives up rental fees for hives

Lock in of bee decline. To meet increasing demand, beekeepers continually replace lost and diseased colonies. Incentive to do this is high rental fees . Bees (and beekeepers) have to work harder. This promotes conditions for more bee decline.

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Demand for bees drives up rental fees for hives

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Demand for bees drives up rental fees for hives




Lock in of bee decline

To meet increasing demand, beekeepers continually replace lost and diseased coloniesIncentive to do this is high rental fees Bees (and beekeepers) have to work harderThis promotes conditions for more bee decline


Lock in of bee decline

What is the next step in this sequence of events?

Demand for luxury crops and potential profit

More farmers plant and grow bee-dependent crops in large monocultures

Fewer weeds and wildflowers; more pesticides

Bees work harder

Ongoing declines in honey bees

Declining crop yields per acre



Also, as more land is converted, greater reductions in native pollinators and even more enhancement of dependency on honey bees

Lock in of bee decline

Only honey bees

Native bees and

honey bees



Role of neonicotinoids in bee decline is more complicated


Negative impacts of neonics dependent upon mode of dosingDust release from planting of neonicotinoid seeds is highly toxicSublethal exposures thru pollen and nectar hard to quantify but can cause mortality Proximity of neonic crops does not mean that bees are feeding on it (dilution effect).Honey bees exposed to many other chemicalsWild bees may be more impacted than honey bees (why?)

Role of neonicotinoids is more complicated


This is why. Honeybees

have larger colony sizes, which


sustain higher losses of foraging bees before showing overall health effects.

Yet this suggests


issue. Honey bees

are the


organism used in toxicity testing for pesticides.


could explain why


studies have not detected negative

effects of neonicotinoids on bees. Worse, this may

also mean that native insects may be more greatly impacted.


Current large-scale hive losses have historic precedents

(Underwood and vanEngelsdorp, 2007)


Multiple types of CCD occurring

Historic bee die offs occurred before varroa mite and before neonicotinoids

In the winter of 2010-2011, the vast majority (>70%) of reported colony losses were not attributed to CCD, as most dead colonies were not missing bee cadavers in the hive or apiary —the hallmark symptom of CCD.


Status of the queen, forage availability, varroa mite are bigger challenge to beekeepers than CCD

Day-to-day factors more important


A greedy reductionist strategy also obscures:

The importance of other animal pollinators besides honey bees


1. Obscures the role of other animal pollinators

Three-quarters of global food crops rely on a broad group animal pollinators. Honey bees are important pollinators for only a third of North American crops 4000 native bee species in North America


Status of Pollinators in North America

Long-term population declines for several wild bee species (notably bumble bees), and some butterflies, bats and hummingbirds Paucity of long-term population data and incomplete knowledge of taxonomy and ecology make definitive assessment of status difficult.


Status of bee and flower-visiting wasp species in United Kingdom


Need to address wild pollinator decline

During past 50 years, animal-pollinator dependent agriculture and number of honey bee hives have increased 300% and 45% respectivelyThese numbers also suggest renewed emphasis of practices that reverse declines in richness and abundance of wild pollinators


CCD as opportunity

CCD has brought attention to bees and beekeepingBeekeeping skills now being passed on to younger generation


CCD has catalyzed awareness and promotion of commodity chains for fair trade and organic honey


Monofloral honeys produced by local, artisanal beekeepers sought after and sold at higher prices


Forest honeys produced by local beekeepers in rural Veracruz state, Mexico


Beekeeping can also be promoted as form of development


A response to CCD


A three-fold response to CCD

Need to address more causally stable factors with broad policiesNeonicotinoidsEvidence is on the balance negative - they are having a detrimental impact on bees and other insects and animalsHowever, their banning may result in the use of older potentially problematic pesticides for which pests have developed resistance


More contingent causes require more contextual approach – no single quick fix possibleAddress systemic issues arising from economic context – why are we so dependent upon honey bees and how can we lessen this dependence?

Electron micrograph of acute paralysis virus (APV)

particles that


nfect honey bees