Friday, February 22, 2013

Is There Really A Honey Bee Shortage?

Fewer bees in US a threat to world's almond supply By GOSIA WOZNIACKA. The bees are needed for pollination and they have been suffering from colony collapse disorder in recent years.Excerpt:
"Bee brokers, beekeepers and almond growers around the state say there's a shortage of healthy honeybees for this year's pollination, especially after colony collapse disorder took a higher toll this winter. The disorder, in which honey bees suddenly disappear or die, wipes out thousands of colonies each year.

The shortage has some growers scrambling for bees — even sub-performers — as trees are about to bloom, driving up bee prices again this year, to an all-time high of more than $200 per colony.

"There's definitely a shortage of strong bee colonies," said Joe Traynor, owner of Scientific Ag, which connects growers with beekeepers. "There is a problem covering all the acres of almonds in the state.""
It is not clear that there is really a shortage. For a shortage, there has to be a greater quantity demanded than supplied at a given price. But as the supply of bees has decreased, the price as risen, as the article says. That is how markets work. Yes, there are fewer bees than there used to be, but that does not mean we have a shortage.


troyin17331 said...

if there is not a shortage than why would this happen

Cyril Morong said...

Just because something gets stolen does not mean there is a shortage. Cars get stolen all the time but no one says there is a shortage of cars. Bees are probably being stolen because their price went up. Again, there is a lower quantity of bees than before but the market is in equilibrium at a higher price

Anonymous said...

Ummm ... I can't actually believe that I'm taking the time to comment here, but this is just a little bit stupid. We are not talking about a market for bees in which unmet demand pushes up prices creating a price signal for bee-keepers to "produce" more bees – we are talking about bees dying off in disturbing numbers, something which has been going on around the world for a while now. If bees become endangered, then the whole ecosystem is in danger, price-signals from agriculture notwithstanding. I mean, I know that if you've got a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but you economists, sheesh!

So, yes, there is a shortage of bees, not just in "market" terms (and there is a shortage in market terms because, in this case, supply is inelastic) but in ecological terms, which matters a hell of a lot more than the market for almonds.

Cyril Morong said...

I can't believe you took the time to comment either because you made no attempt to understand what I said

Anonymous said...

The article is not suggesting there is an economic shortage - there won't be one of those until there are no bees left; it is suggesting that there is an environmental shortage - which I believe is in the region of 25% since 1980.

James Cook said...

If bees are, "dying off in disturbing numbers," why hasn't the price of honey risen? It's still as cheap as it was years ago, and quite a bit cheaper than jam. I suspect a rat in the works, or several of them.