We were watching Shipping Wars the other night and one of the loads being s
hipped was 26 tons of bees (including hive boxes). This guy ships them from
Michigan to North Carolina in the spring and then back in the fall. In jus
t the trip back there must have been a million bees lost. My first question
is Why would he do this? Second, somehow I would think this would fall int
o the same kind of regulation that prevents transporting some plant materia
l from state to state.
Anyone know, Any ideas?
to pollinate crops. there are not often enough
local wild honey bees to adequately pollinate some
i'm pretty sure it does require a license of
some kind, but also it likely gets exemptions
from strict controls in exchange for certain
kinds of regular inspections to prevent the
spread of diseases.
the problem is that there are only so many
bees to pollinate crops. some crops almost
require european honey bees to pollinate them.
as the bee diseases and collapses continue this
puts even more pressure on those hives left
behind. shipping exposes them to more stress
and pollution. generally, it's not a really
great solution to the problem, but until someone
comes up with something better it's often all
that certain farmers have available to get the
some hives travel thousands of miles each year.
On Thursday, August 1, 2013 3:58:49 PM UTC-4, songbird wrote:
OK but I live near where he took the bees in North Carolina and I have hear
d nothing about needing bees for pollination. I sure have seen a lot of the
m around here. I forget the name of the town but it is a bit North of here
on the eastern side of the state. Not the coast but east of Route 95. Altho
ugh there are crops, feed corn, cotton, and much less tobacco this is mostl
y hog country.
You say they travel thousands of miles, does that mean the escaped bees wil
l find their own way back to Michigan?
there may be some kind of fruit or nut operation
you don't know about. some crops too may do better
if pollinated by honey bees.
there are very few "escaped bees". they move the hives
at night, after almost all of the bees have returned to
the hive. any left behind will die off. the queen is
the only bee that can make a new hive (or a mating flight
of drones and queen wanna-bees, but that's not likely
with a managed hive) or replenish lost worker bees.
Curcurbits likw squash and watermelon use imported beehives as
pollinators. Don't they grow stuff like that in NC? Also sunflowers.
They do need to get the bees back somewhere cool for the winter, because
if they are somewhere too warm for too long they remain active for
longer, use up reserves quicker, and then aren't in a fit state for
early season pollinations like California almonds. Some hives do an
east coast to west coast migration each year, wintering somewhere in
between, others wander north and south. Since the second world war the
quantity of crops requiring imported pollinators in teh USA has
increased 4-fold while the number of bees hives has less than halved.
So each beehive has to cover 10x the area it used to, hence the
requirement for all this driving around. Bee diseases have resulted in
an excess of demand over supply. It's the huge dominance of single
crops over a large contiguous area you get in the USA, such as
California almonds, that reduces the number of natural pollinators
available and results in a larger demand for pollinators than is
required in Europe, where there is more of a mix.
Researchers said both rented European honeybees and wild pollinator bee
species are currently experiencing supply problems. More than 1 million
honeybee colonies are imported to California each year, chiefly for
almond pollination. Recently, beekeepers have suffered high rates of
colony losses due to diseases, pesticides and management factors,
increasing the uncertainty of both supply and rental prices.
Wild pollinator species also show declines in abundance and diversity on
farmlands, most likely due to habitat loss from the intensive
monoculture, or single crop, production system that typifies much of
California's agricultural lands.
"Currently, wild pollinators are least abundant in intensive monoculture
production areas such as sunflowers, almonds and melons, where demand
for pollination services is largest," said Kremen, who was named a 2007
MacArthur Fellow for her work in ecology, biodiversity and agriculture.
Wild pollinators key to sustainability
Kremen said the findings suggest that if farmers paid ranchers to stay
on the land and maintain the habitat, the farmers would be increasing
their sources of pollination and developing critical diversification to
support their agricultural practices.
"We would never invest all of our retirement savings in just one stock,
but this is essentially what farmers do when they rely solely on the
European honeybee for pollination," said Kremen. She said this is
exactly what is occurring in California agriculture right now.
"Diversifying their monetary investment in pollinators to include wild,
rangeland-dwelling species is the same idea as diversifying a stock
portfolio," she said, adding that the unpredictability associated with
climate change amplifies the importance of diversification.
Lynn Huntsinger, a professor of rangeland management at UC Berkeley who
is not affiliated with the study, said that the findings are significant
because the study is the first to discover that conserving rangelands
enhances crop production.
"This evidence of economic symbiosis makes it clear that rangeland
conservation cannot be separated from the needs of agriculture, whether
it is farming or ranching," Huntsinger said.
She said that precisely because rangelands have been used for ranching -
livestock grazing - ranchers have kept the land conserved and stewarded
it in ways that result in habitat that sustains wild bee species as well
as other wildlife.
"Studies in some ecosystems have shown that well-managed grazing can
keep invasive grasses from shading out the flowering herbs that native
pollinators rely on," Huntsinger said.
The state's rangelands have been decreasing steadily, as the foothills
and oak-dotted grasslands can be highly desirable for residential
development, Huntsinger said. California lost 105,000 acres of grazing
lands to urbanization between 1990 and 2004, according to the state
Department of Conservation. The California Oak Foundation projects that
the state could lose another 750,000 acres by 2040.
She said the vast majority of rangelands are privately owned, and income
from ranching is usually small compared to the price the land can
command in the real estate market, so when cash is needed for college,
retirement or other major expenses, ranchers face strong pressure to
"This new finding about pollinators is important because not only does
it tell us something we need to know to maintain our ability to grow
food, it also provides a statewide value for the service of providing
pollinator habitat. Ranchers need to get that value and other rangeland
values recognized in order to sustain their ranches," Huntsinger said.
The finding comes at a time when there is growing interest within the
ranching community in providing ecosystem services, Huntsinger said. For
example, as part of conservation efforts, California ranchers have been
asked to maintain flowers for endangered butterflies and to keep small
spring wetlands known as vernal pools healthy - using grazing as a tool
to manipulate the grassland.
Loss of wild pollinators hurting food security
On Thursday, August 1, 2013 3:37:52 PM UTC-4, mj wrote:
shipped was 26 tons of bees (including hive boxes). This guy ships them fr
om Michigan to North Carolina in the spring and then back in the fall. In j
ust the trip back there must have been a million bees lost. My first questi
on is Why would he do this? Second, somehow I would think this would fall i
nto the same kind of regulation that prevents transporting some plant mater
ial from state to state.
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