It's very efficient way to farm, and produces a lot of high quality food. But it takes nature out of the equation.
Are there any farmers who are cutting back on neonicitinoids?
Well, do the math. In CA they earn $180 per hive from almond growers.
Less so from other farmers. But their expenses have risen astronomically. And they are all over the road truck drivers now. That's a lot of diesel.
But is a lot of hard work. Steve Ellis, one of the beekeepers I followed would spend months living in a teeny tiny little trailer while he worked his bees. Jeff Anderson,the other keeper
drives back and forth across the country many times a year.
The beekeepers' migration is one aspect of the story that really struck us. Bee die-offs have been in the news, but few people understood how many beekeepers, in Minnesota and other places, have come to depend on this migratory lifestyle.
I was struck by how beekeepers lived.
Also, how they manage such a fragile link in our food system.
And I'm always fascinated between the human relationship to nature and how we've changed it.
We also thought it was important for our readers to understand how important Minnesota is in the bee story - it's always been a major honey-producing state and now an important source of pollinators.
Any more questions? I love talking about this topic.
oops! I see that I forgot to include Roger's question. Here ya' go.
Josephine - my son asked why beekeepers don't just produce more bees to replace the ones who are dying. Is it that simple?
I found that beekeepers have different experiences. A lot depends on where they live, and what they do with their bees. But I did talk to a lot of beekeepers, and almost all had the same kind of story.
I don't know what their profits are, and I don't know for certain what their revenues are, but I've seen estimates that class of neonics generates $1 billion or more.
To Brian's point - While it's true that beekeepers are having a variety of experiences, the overall numbers from the USDA are pretty clear - bees are dying and honey production is taking a hit.
No, certainly not the ones who live in Florida or elsewhere. But no one keeps track of how many bees die from corn planting dust. Or other kills.
We're going to look at the sicence, and the history of regulation, and the perspective from a farmer.
oops, Make that science. Also, there is some really interesting research going on that looks at what makes bees healthy.
I think there is agreement across the board that bees face a lot of different problems.
Most of the controversy is about the role of one class of pesticides.
And the research on that is pretty intense.
Among conservation groups, there is talk about how we use pesticides, and whether it's too much. As a science reporter I like to think that independent scientists are unbiased.
Yes they do. The beekeepers are very worried about exposure to fungicides in the almond crop.
And there are many other pesticides that can do harm, especially if they are used improperly.
No. The EPA addresses this on their web site.