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- Information on moving bees around for commercial agriculture
Information on moving bees around for commercial agriculture
Posted by Sinead Soltis on October 12, 2022
Information about how commercial bee keeping functions and its impact to overall bee populations was inquired about by Brent Lewis, Landscape Architect. Below is the response from Adam Donzel, an Assistant Professor in Entomology.
Yeah, there is work on that. Here are links to couple studies about it:
Basically, yes, there are some stresses involved with migratory beekeeping but sedentary colonies can also have similar issues. In some scenarios, migratory colonies could be healthier as they are moved to areas with good nutritional resources all the time, while those left in place have to deal with times of low food availability. In reality, though, migratory colonies do undergo a lot of stress as they are used to pollinate crops and a lot goes into that - the stress of confinement, heat, exposure to agrochemicals, etc. From a beekeeping perspective, this is calculated into the fees charged for pollination (to some extent at least). Right now, beekeepers charge about $200/hive to pollinate almonds for example (the most lucrative pollination event). Big beekeepers manage 20,000-50,000 hives! "Small" commercial beekeepers usually have 2-5000.
Migratory beekeeping uses about 85% of the managed colonies in the USA (incredible!). One big issue with this is that, if a new pest or pathogen is introduced, it will be spread throughout the country very fast. And in big pollination events, like almonds, hives are concentrated at very high densities, which does present a lot of opportunities for spreading diseases. They do mitigate this to some extent, however, as there are health checks required to move bees across state lines, and almond growers usually require checks of colonies to make sure they are healthy.
Hope this helps - always happy to answer questions when I can!"