Honeybees: Population Declines And Hive Theft Expected To Cause Fruit Prices To Soar

Bee hive thefts and another year of significant honeybee population declines has many agriculture researchers anticipating a big hike in fruit prices and almond prices this spring and summer. A definitive answer to why colony collapse disorder has been occurring since 2005 has not yet been reached. The varroa mite may surely have played a role in the bee decline, but a multitude of organic growers and environmentalists point to chemical herbicides and GMO seeds are the primary culprits for the mass bee deaths.

Fruit and almond prices could come close to doubling, according to some estimates. The honeybee population woes show no sign of going away anytime soon. Ordering bees to pollinate crops and to start new hives for honey-making is even more difficult this year than last.

Honeybees in the California Central Valley always pollinate the fruit and almond trees, which provide produce and nuts shipped around the world. The state literally requires billions of honeybees to generate a healthy and solid crop each year.

The vast amount of acreage devoted to the production of fruit and nuts puts a high demand on honeybees, and will outweigh the supply in 2015. Some of the honeybees raised in California are also shipped to Idaho, as well as North and South Dakota. The rental of beehives used to be a decent line to be in, but price increases to a tune of 25 percent have made the honeybee rental gig big business — when you can find enough bees to fill the hive frames. Bee hive theft has also reportedly increased substantially.

Fresno, California, Police Sergeant Ryan Hushaw, who is a member of the county’s Ag Crimes Task Force, said, “Recently we had two rather significant thefts of beehives. One occurred in the Coalinga area, the second occurred in the Firebaugh/Dos Palos area. Both of those thefts combined amounted to $50,000 in loss.” In the cases cited by Sergeant Hushaw, more than 60 beehives were stolen.

To thwart would be thieves, both beekeepers and beehive renters have been forced to move their hives multiple times per year. Honeybee population declines are developing as a major blow to farmers and gardeners – a situation that could lead to higher food prices. The 2013 colony collapse disorder statistics follows record losses of the little pollinators due to colony collapse disorder, a condition in which entire hives disappear or die.

“Bees are the primary link between us and the bounty of fruits and vegetables in our supermarkets. People don’t realize how important they are,” Byron Martin, the owner of Logee’s Nursery in Connecticut. said. “You don’t need a bee to get a head of broccoli or alfalfa. You do need bees to pollinate the mother plants that produce the seeds that grow those crops. People miss that connection.”

Approximately 70 percent of all the food we eat was pollinated by honeybees. Feed devoured by the livestock we eat is also pollinated by bees. If the honeybees perish, so will the human race. A 2014 Harvard study states that neonicotinoids – the dominant ingredient found in many popular insecticides which treat much of the corn in the U.S. — are to blame for honeybee colony collapse disorder.

Beekeepers from across America have lamented the decline of their colonies for several years. A 2013 Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report in the United Kingdom shed more than a little light on the honeybee population decline, but so far, United States agricultural experts have failed to take corrective steps to combat the potentially devastating agricultural issue.

What do you think about the honeybees plight and the possibility of increases in fruit prices this year?