Importance of Bee Farming to Agriculture

Bees play a pretty big role in agriculture. They pollinate crops, increase production, and give us honey, that’s lucrative in vast amounts. Globally there are more honey bees than any other types of bee or pollinating insect. Bees are so important, that millions of farmers are actually spent renting out beehives to pollinate their own crops, because this insect is the world\'s most important pollinator especially with food crops. It’s Estimated that over ⅓ of the food we consume has to do with pollination by mainly bee’s but also other insects, birds and bats whether its indirectly or not. For crops, for example like blueberries, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi’s and almonds, the honey bee plays an important role in pollinating, and in this case commercial crops. Around 80% of the United States crops are said to be dependent on honey bees.

Overall there are 59 honey and bee farming corporations in the state of Michigan like Melody Bee Farms, Turtlebee Farms, Whitfields Raw Honey farms just to name a few, and 789 bee farming corporations in the U.S. When starting a bee farm you have to get the right equipment and that\'s more than likely going to cost a pretty penny. You can keep bees without having to invest in any equipment at all, but the only thing you’ll need is hard work, having the skills to build what you need and a lot of luck trying to get a swarm of bees. Overall there are three big expenses when it comes to bee keeping and thats initial equipment ( bee housing and other needs)

The bee’s

Operating equipment ( helps you do and work best with the bees)

The investment for a hive is roughly $200, and the price can vary by the type of it, the quantity and especially shipping expenses. Say you were wanting to invest in getting a langstroth hive the components you’d be getting from it would be:

  1. Top cover
  2. Inner Cover
  3. Bottom boards
  4. Frames and foundation ( Optional )

When going to get the bees to fill your hive you’ve just bought, they can be bought in one of two ways. A package, which is at most a 3lbs of bees with the queen caged separately all in a screen box and a Nuc, which is a very small nucleus economy that contains about 3-7 frames of bees, that had already been making the comb on the walls of the frames and the queen that’s been freed into the Nuc itself to expand the colony. When purchasing the operating equipment you need the basics. If your a beginner you would need to get a kit that’s about $500+, cause it’s highly recommended that you don’t want to start a bee farm with just one hive. After everything is all said and done you need bee’s. You can catch a wild swarm or you can buy them. Honeybee prices may vary depending on your supplier your buying from, and the size of the package or nuc is a 2lbs bag that ranges from $95 - $135, and 3lbs bag range between $130 - $160. Nuc’s range from $150 - $300.

The average prices of honey in 2017 ranged from $2.10 - $2.15 per pound, so imagine how much people have made off these insects. The income big companies get from farming honey bee’s is roughly to be about $435 million and that’s not including the sales of beeswax. According to the USDA reports, there is 2.67 million honey bee producing farms in 2017 and 29% of that comes from china, which estimates about a good 1.47 million pounds of raw honey being made year round. The United states alone, eats approximately a 1 ½ pound each year and sometimes don’t realize it, due to it being in other foods. Honey is used for many other reasons and can be found in a good majority of the products you see today like shampoos, chapsticks like Burt\'s Bees and hand soaps just to name a few. Believe it or not Honey has medicinal properties that can prevent and or help acid reflux, relieve cold/ cough symptoms, stress, sleep disturbance, hiccups and arthritis and can even aid the healing process in wounds for example: burns, cuts and eczema. Who knew this gold looking syrup would help in so many ways.

The number of honeybee colonies in the U.S. in 2016 was approximately 2.78 Million and dropped to 2.68 million the following year. The past couple years the honey bee population has been dropping and scientists still haven’t figured out a concrete reason as to what’s causing this problem. Last year, Bee keepers had reported of losing about 41% of their colonies and nonetheless it’s also a 3% increase in the deaths of the bee’s around the same time back in 2017 according to the University of Maryland. Due to the deaths, people call it a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD) , but yet again no one knows its exact causes as to why this happens, because beekeepers will lose a good 45% of the hives that they have every winter along with trying to avoid any other possible diseases and or threats.

People believe that certain pesticides cause CCD (collapse colony disorder), mainly the ones that are used in big commercial crops and pests that infest the hive and spread diseases. One of the pesticides that’s used is: Neonicotinoids. Which is a group of pesticides that are common in ag-industry. This pesticide is used in the production of: Corn, Wheat, Soy and Cotton and this affects the bee’s to not be able to collect nectar and overall weakening the bee’s immune systems and making them more susceptible to getting other diseases.

One of the diseases that honeybees can get is: Varroa Mite. It’s a parasite that attaches to honey bees and making them weak by feeding off them. So basically these mites are like ticks, but for bees. If it goes unnoticed, within a year or two, the mites can actually wipe out a colony. Not only does diseases and pesticides decrease the population, but habitat loss is also a factor. If we didn’t have bees we wouldn\'t have a good amount of the product like fruits veggies, flowers we have today because without the bee’s who’s wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground farmers would more than likely be struggling to make a living. So please do what you can and try to save the bees so this world doesn\'t die already dead.