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View Diary: Florida citrus grower gets slap on the wrist after killing millions of honeybees (140 comments)

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  •  I definitely get how beekeeping works. (0+ / 0-)

    Beekeepers truck their bees beginning in early spring to orchards in bloom. The orchards need the bees and the bees need the orchards. If the supply of bees is declining rapidly, which everyone says it is, then beekeepers will not have to beg growers to set their bees in blooming orchards. Quite the contrary, I should think. All the orchards of a given fruit in a particular area bloom at the same time. It seems to me if there is a shortage of bees then beekeepers will get to choose among orchards. And if they get to choose among orchards, why would they choose one that is known to spray nicotinoids? That goes directly against their own self-interest.

    What surprises me is that the decline in bees is not so great in Florida. Surely that must be attributable to an increase in the number of beekeepers since bee colonies there experienced the same die-off rate of 30% as the country as whole.  I should think that it won't be long before the decline in bee colony numbers becomes as big a problem in Florida as it is in California.

    If I made my living keeping bees I would want to put them on only those flowers I knew wouldn't poison them and destroy my investment. If that meant keeping them far away from Ben Hill Griffin orchards, that is what I would do. Now, its's possible there are really stupid beekeepers in Florida and the other southeastern states who will set their hives anywhere they can find an orchard in bloom, but if they set their bees in poisoned orchards they won't be keeping bees for very long.

    "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

    by Involuntary Exile on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 08:58:34 AM PDT

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    •  You still don't understand (0+ / 0-)

      The elephant in the room regarding this discussion is oranges don't depend on pollination anywhere close to the degree assumed by people here in this diary. Not all fruits require the extensive pollination that some plants require. One third of food crops require pollination, which leaves 2/3 which don't. For example, avocados benefit from pollination more than oranges, but even those grove owners don't pay for bees.

      Orange grove owners don't usually pay for pollination. Must I provide links?  (I've dealt with orange farmers and have had bees in orange groves, and I have knowledge of which plants require pollination).  It isn't as crucial to oranges compared to other crops. You're assuming a lack of bees placed directly in the orchard will be devastating to the owners. Bees in other groves nearby will fly to the grove, so the owners won't have to worry (bees can fly up to five or more miles, and don't limit themselves to an assigned area). So the premise that these grove owners will fear a lower crop yield just isn't true. Now, if ALL hives were to disappear in the neighboring groves as well, the owners might see a bit a a decline, and then they might begin to wake up a bit, or just charge higher prices. The problem with oranges is owners think they don't need bees, since oranges don't experience the huge increases in yields due to pollination like certain other crops. You may not realize that plants respond to bee pollination to varying degrees. This is reflected in what farmers pay. Almonds are at the top, getting $150 per hive. Other crops, like blackberries and blueberries, fetch something like $50 to $70 per hive in my area. Some don't pay at all. This reflects the degree to which the plants benefit. I know a guy with a small farm who never pays, and hobbyist beekeepers place hives there for free.

      The entire discussion is based on a flawed premise that these offenders are going to suffer due to their transgressions. The bottom line is these grove owners who did the spraying, unfortunately won't experience some big punitive response, other than the fine. That is the essential point here.

      That aside, as to your other comments, when commercial beekeepers lose bees, they usually make up for it by buying package bees or making hive divisions to bring their hives back up to previous levels. They don't usually just give up and quit. So the reports of 50% loss of bees is made up for (to a certain degree) the next spring. And as locations open up due to declines in hives, other beekeepers will move in and take them, since these sites are coveted. As I said, I know how beekeepers think.

      The vast majority of large grove owners spray their crops. The problem is in the instance of this story reported by the diary, the spraying was done in an irresponsible manner (which actually isn't at all a new development, it's just that this story made the news due to the fine). Beekeepers are used to this problem, to a degree. If the owners tell beekeepers they made an error, and have corrected it, there will be some beekeeper who will believe the owners and put their bees there. But even if this doesn't happen, as i explained above, the owners will be fine.

      There are nuances in the background reality that beekeepers deal with, which the inexperienced person just won't understand.

      So for specific regions like Florida and its oranges, I'm pretty sure bees will still be present. Warm climates with good honey plants have a disproportionate amount of beekeepers.

      Almonds, on the other hand, in central California, which don't really secret a lot of nectar, and which absolutely need pollination, are experiencing increased problems getting bees into groves. The problem is with all of the problems with neonics and associated bee diseases, mites, etc., the hives aren't strong enough that early in the spring (February) to meet the requirements of the growers. There is no reason to have bees in the almond regions other than for the almonds (due to monoculture) so there won't be as many beekeepers local to the specific region keeping bees in that area as there would be in Florida. And if beekeepers in Florida pass up the almonds, guess where there will be more bees in the early spring?

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:28:14 AM PDT

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