Thursday, May 9, 2013

Honey Bees, Almond Pollination and Corn Fields

Trucking bees for pollination purposes. © David Green, Wikicommons
I have pondered about the connection between almond crops and honey bees in North America. I found another piece of the puzzle in the Bee Informed website: corn fields play an important role on the problems that honey bees face.

After bees are done pollinating crops, they need to restore the energies and supplies spent on all the traveling and waiting and monoculture feeding to which they have been subjected. Many bee hives used to be taken to the prairies of North Dakota where they used to find abundant wild flowers. But that resource is getting smaller all the time, the reason being that each year a larger area is devoted to corn cultivation.

More and more it seems that the most serious problem honey bees face is the agricultural system. Pesticides play an important role in this matter, but agribusiness also has a lot to do with it. Almond fields are becoming more and more like factories and less like orchards. The practice of using massive numbers of just one species of pollinators is also becoming a factory process.  Are we expecting too much from honey bees? Shouldn't we be changing agricultural practices? Is it time to resort to organic farming? Shouldn't we take advantage of all the many pollinators which would prosper if given adequate habitat near the crops?

Some resources on alternative pollinators:

List of Articles 

© Beatriz Moisset. 2013

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