‘Honey bees, unlike most other insects are domesticated animals and their numbers are therefore controlled ultimately by human desire for the honey they produce and the pollination services they provide. Estimates by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation suggest that, far from falling, the number of hives in the world is increasing by about 2% a year,’ (Honey, I’m home’, The Economist , 22nd June 2019, p64).
HOW HONEY BEES WORK | ‘At Madame’s suggestion, they lie down in the weeds, and Marie-Laure listens to honeybees mine the flowers and tries to imagine their journeys as Etienne described them: each worker following a rivulet of odor, looking for ultraviolet patterns in the flowers, filling baskets on their hind legs with pollen grains, then navigating, drunk and heavy, all the way home,’ (‘All the light we cannot see’, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Anthony Doerr, 4th Estate, 2015 paperback edition).
PAID POLLINATORS | ‘In addition to producing honey, bees have found more lucrative work, pollinating one-third of the crops grown in America. In February and March, when California’s almond trees are blooming about 30bn [bees] are drafted to pollinate California’s 1.3m acres of almond trees. This apian fiesta involves up to 90% of the commercial bee population in America, leaving few bees to pollinate everything else that requires their attention, a source of controversy in agricultural circles. Other crops like raspberries, blackberries, cherries, cantaloupes and apples aren’t as lucrative to pollinate. Longer winters, drier summers and diseases like varrosis have made it harder for bees to survive,’ (‘The Bee’s Needs’, The Economist 01st Sept 2018 p39).