This is a surprising fact given the growth in all sectors of the economy and population:

"Today’s nationwide supply of movable honeybee hives, at 2 million hives or somewhat more, is only half what it was in the mid-1940s, says Eric Mader of the Xerces Society, an insect-focused wildlife conservation group in Portland, Ore. Yet the U.S. acreage needing pollination roughly doubled during the same time."

My sense is that despite the size of the commercial beekeepers with thousands of hives, there aren't that many of them. I spoke with one in Santa Barbara (600 hives) and he said he basically knew all of the major beekeepers in California since it was a surprisingly small group.

I'm glad to see that there is still attention being given to the crisis of the bees this spring, like in this article about experiments with blue orchard bees.

I liked this description of the situation of pollinating bees in the California almond crops: "like other migrant farmworkers, honeybees face risks from exposure to pesticides as well as from the stress of a nomadic life."

While encouraging natural pollinators (and the article has a decent list of possibilities at the end, mostly different kinds of solitary bees) I think the key is to directly and honestly address the issues facing beekeepers and to accept the need to transform the system in sustainable ways. This means smaller yields and more work, but also creating a system that is likely to last rather than to fail spectacularly.


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