Bees

Capitalism Averts Alleged Beepocalypse

Activists recycle specious apiary catastrophism.

|

BeePutinCover
Reason

Old environmental scares never die. Unlike old soldiers, they don't even fade away. Consequently, we still have activist groups constantly recycling chemophobia, non-renewable resource depletion, and overpopulation worries. The latest of these scares is what Time dubbed the the "beepocalypse" back in 2007.

Starting in 2006, many U.S. beekeepers noticed a high number of their hives were not surviving the winter. The afflicted hives appeared to have been abandoned. That winter beekeepers lost 32 percent of their colonies. The malady was eventually given a name: colony collapse disorder (CCD).

A search for villains began. Environmental activists soon latched onto a relatively new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, claiming they were the primary cause of CCD. But is that so? In January, the Environmental Protection Agency noted that "most approved uses do not pose significant risks to bee colonies," though "spray applications to a few crops, such as cucumbers, berries, and cotton, may pose risks to bees that come in direct contact with residue."

That didn't quiet the activists. Take Maine state Rep. Diane Russell, who's been emailing around a link to a MoveOn.org petition for a fellow Maine progressive Bree LaCasse. In their quest for votes, the email peddles beemaggeddon:

Bees are dying by the million, and a growing body of scientific evidence points to a dangerous breed of pesticides called neonics as the main culprit.

In response, a wave of local cities and towns are taking steps to ban bee-killing pesticides—and not a minute too soon. With Trump in the White House and science-denier Scott Pruitt running the EPA, the bees aren't getting any help from D.C.

That's why we must do everything in our power to protect the bees locally. My friend Bree LaCasse launched a petition to the U.S. Conference of Mayors to demonstrate the widespread support for local action to protect the bees.

Will you sign Bree's petition urging mayors and other local officials to take action to protect their communities from synthetic and bee-killing pesticides?

We rely on bees, butterflies, and other pollinators for more than 70 percent of the world's food crops. That's what's at stake in this fight: without bees and other natural pollinators, we simply won't have enough food to feed the world.

If you subscribe to the print edition of Reason, you already know that Russell and LaCasse are recycling specious apiary catastrophism. The current issue features Property and Environment Research Center research fellow Shawn Regan's excellent feature, "How Capitalism Saved the Bees." One salient fact from the article: "In 2016, there were 2.78 million honeybee colonies in the United States—16 percent more than when the disorder hit in 2006. In fact, there are more honeybee colonies in the country today than in nearly 25 years."

NEXT: Do Americans Have a Right to Know If Their Government Is Incompetent?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If i’m not mistaken, CCD was primarily affecting non-native European honeybees. Native, non-social pollinators like mason bees have been doing just fine all along.

    1. Where are the activists to decry this invasive species?

      1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

    2. Yes. The so-called “Africanized” bees that have been freaking out the eco crowd have been doing just fine, as well. But apparently the European bees “belong” here, while the African ones don’t.

      Also, European honey bees do just fine in Europe, even where neonics are in use. So the narrative is not quite what the activists want it to be.

      1. But apparently the European bees “belong” here, while the African ones don’t.

        Xenophobic racists.

      2. Europeans yelling again when something affects them, yet they don’t care what happens to the natives. Typical Europeans. XD

      3. European bees “belong here” in the sense that they’ve evolved to survive and proliferate in the climate bands that Europe shares with North America. By comparison, African bees have been successful throughout much of Latin America (ye olde Killer Bee fear-mongering) but aren’t able to deal with colder winters.

    3. “Non-Social Pollinator” was CX’s nickname in college.

      1. True.

    4. I do believe you are not mistaken. But European honey bees are very important to a lot of commercial crops. So it’s nice to know they aren’t in danger of all dying or anything.

  2. Since when has the failure of their predictions ever daunted a prognosticator?

  3. As Americans move away from socialism here, maybe the European honeybees are moving away too.

  4. What happened to the cell phone cause?

    1. The bees had to cancel their mobile plan due to the financial crisis.

      1. Why are you trying to bee so critical of Obama’s flynancial genius from 2009-2017?

        1. Beecause I hive to?

          1. I am always getting stung with the truth.

            1. Sorry to harsh your buzz.

    2. It got hung up on.

      1. Sorry, the response we were looking for was “Because 20xx called and wanted its alarmism back.”

        1. Sorry, I did not receiver the message.

          1. Last time that lame meme uses 1-800-COLLECT.

    3. Yes. You see before the neonicinoid theory, people were coming up with all sorts of wild theories with no basis in science whatsoever. At least neonics have some data to back the theory up.

  5. they die on tennis courts. everywhere.

  6. Bees are dying by the million

    Which converts to like a hour in human years. Seriously, I doubt the pollination of bees would hardly compete with even a trivial pollen collection and redistribution process save that the bees passively create their own infrastructure and produce honey as a result. Bees are valuable inasmuch as vacuum cleaners don’t change their own filters over crops and produce honey as a byproduct.

    1. Yeah – and talk about some goal-post shifting:

      We rely on bees, butterflies, and other pollinators for more than 70 percent of the world’s food crops. That’s what’s at stake in this fight: without bees and other natural pollinators, we simply won’t have enough food to feed the world.

      Bees are pollinators. Pollinators are involved in reproduction of 70 percent of the world’s food crops. Therefore, if a significant percentage of bees die off, we’ll all starve.

      Basic logic fail, for the win.

      1. It’s really just one of the many species of pollinating bee, too.

        1. My yard is full of bumblebees.

          1. No amount of “GET OFF MY LAWN” works.

          2. I wish that I could get bumblebees into my yard. I have 3 cans of tuna that need opening.

            1. You probably make Aunt Jemima pour your syrup too, racist.

      2. Wrong. There are plenty other pollinators that are doing just fine. We just may not have cheap almonds any more. Get control of your emotions, son.

    2. Honey bees really are pretty important to agriculture. Honey is a secondary product of beekeeping. The real money in beekeeping is in renting out your hives to pollinate crops which increases yields a lot. Farmers spend a lot of money trucking bees in for that purpose, so I think that if there was a viable artificial way to pollinate, it would be used a lot more. I think there are some places in China where pollution killed all the bees and people hand pollinate some crops, but that requires lots of cheap labor.

      So I wouldn’t sell bees short. The fact that they do provide a valuable service does pretty well ensure their survival.

      1. Honey bees really are pretty important to agriculture. Honey is a secondary product of beekeeping. Farmers spend a lot of money trucking bees in for that purpose, so I think that if there was a viable artificial way to pollinate, it would be used a lot more.

        Honey bees are really important to some agriculture. Cash crops are bred to optimal yields without bees. Pretty much only bush and tree-based crops are heavily reliant on it. Detasseling corn has been a thing since time immemorial. I think the only crop that would be absolutely hammered by a loss of bees is almonds. Which would mean we’d go back to consuming them whole, as nuts, rather than milking them and trying to figure out WTF to do with the leftover powder.

        Not to get too conspiratorial but, IMO, much of the literature coming out saying crops would collapse if bees went away are aimed at keeping agriculture at scale and/or in California. Certainly not all and it’s not all completely biased, but enough that it seems a lot like the sort of opposite of the local food movement.

        1. Which would mean we’d go back to consuming them whole, as nuts, rather than milking them and trying to figure out WTF to do with the leftover powder.

          And even then, we’d only do so until somebody figured out how to use industrial fans and HEPA filter to suck the pollen off of one tree and blow it onto the next. A catastrophic collapse of bees (and presumably other insects and fauna) as the result of pollution is a bit of a different scenario.

          My hazy memory of varying fuzzy statistics seems to recall that somewhere 1-2 yrs. into the CCD fiasco the US had it’s largest ever across-the-board crop yield and continued to set year-over-year records throughout on progressively smaller fields.

          1. There are ways to pollinate other than bees, it’s just no current machinery works as efficiently and cheaply as those beautiful little busy bastards.

        2. Yeah, it’s insane how much stuff is grown in California. It’s insane how good the weather and soil is for fruits and veggies. However they are draining the aquifers pretty quick. Eventually they won’t have a choice but to stop growing so much there as the cost for water gets too great. They come down hard on people for washing their car, yet Ag uses 80% of the water.

          1. Yeah huge bummer when we divert a significant amount of water into the ocean for a fucking smelt.

            FWIW: In addition to EPA-created water shortages, California has gone through this same drought cycle for 50 years. We get a couple really rainy years, and then a decade or so of near-to-full drought. Towards the end of that ten year period, everyone is freaking out about the end of water in the state. Then we get a couple rainy years and it starts again.

      2. Time to invest in robot bee research.

        1. There’s a reason we call them drones…

  7. I clicked this thinking it had something to do with the apocalypse and beeping.

    1. Worst horror flick eva! Discarded beepers falling from the sky and blue light bringing non-beeper users to heaven.

  8. Great article Bailey! I was actually discussing this the other day. The bee crisis is in many ways on the decline, and in part to the fact that enterprising individuals have been cultivating bees to rent out for agricultural uses.

    I had been reading some interesting developments in the selective breeding of bees, and it did bring about a thought: if we do selectively breed them enough, will we see some of the issues emerge in bees that many dog breeds face today due to too much inbreeding in the selection process? Interesting thoughts…

    1. dalmatian bees. spots.

      1. THEY’RE ALL INSANE!

      2. Deafness too. So it’s not all just cute bees

    2. will we see some of the issues emerge in bees that many dog breeds face today due to too much inbreeding in the selection process?

      Police officers shooting up beehives for their resemblance to pit bulls?

      1. pit bulls bees

        there, FIFY

        1. winner. fuck.

          1. disagree. “they’re shooting beehives for their resemblance to pit bees”? I don’t get it.

            1. say pit bees and don’t lol.

              1. The image of a bumblebee wearing a spiked collar and chewing a cow femur was definitely amusing, but it takes more than that to win at FIFY.

                1. guess we’re on different wavelengths…pit bees is funny.

                  1. different wavelengths, different version of English, dunno. I said it was funny, but in FIFY: Anniversary Edition, it’s important the the resulting phrase make some sort of sense, comical or otherwise, not just the modified excerpt. (Official Rulebook, Ch.1)

                    1. rulebooking me at a libertarian website?

    3. I think that a lot of the problems with over-bred dogs comes from the fact that a lot of breeders are either lazy or breed for appearance more than for behavior or robustness. Actual working dog breeds tend to have a lot less of that kind of problem because the breeders know they have to avoid it.

      1. Yeah. IME a lot of it is related to certifications for things like AKC. Dogs that are bred to be show dogs. It’s the issue that kennel clubs create, and the reason why the most recently “accepted” breeds are always the most genetically diverse.

        My knowledge of selective breeding practices for bees is pretty limited. I only recently started looking into it. Do apiarists go meet up and make sure that their colonies interbreed for diversity? That seems like something I would expect to see less of than in dogs.

        1. Some sort of colony exchange program? BeeMatch.com

          1. >>>BeeMatch.com

            see now that’s funny.

        2. My knowledge of selective breeding practices for bees is pretty limited. I only recently started looking into it. Do apiarists go meet up and make sure that their colonies interbreed for diversity?

          I think you’ve answered your own question, no?

          Since the bee breeding is rather exclusively utilitarian, diversity can be assumed/purity isn’t prized. As was indicated above, not all plants prefer or require explicitly honeybees so, as long as the US/World doesn’t suddenly derive the majority of it’s calories from watermelon, diversity will be king (if the world suddenly started deriving the majority of its calories from watermelons, bee diversity would be towards the bottom of the list of concerns).

        3. Could the anti-pet-shop movement be a factor?

    4. Stingers that curl up on their backs all the time.

    5. Right. There was some news recently that some bee breeders may have developed a bee breed which was resistant to CCD.

      1. If genetic engineering was involved, the luddites will have to change sides and be against the bees.

    6. I always figured it would eventually be okay because of natural selection. It’s kind of flat lined on the number of colonies dying every winter, so it hasn’t increased. While more expensive now to raise them because of the losses, people are still willing to pay for the services and keep the populations going.

  9. With Trump in the White House and science-denier Scott Pruitt running the EPA, the bees aren’t getting any help from D.C.

    And this is one of the things that drives me nuts about Team Blue climate hysteria.

    What in living fuck do Trump and Pruitt’s views on climate change have to do with bees and pesticides?

    1. Its ALL Trump’s fault! Now comes the narrative tie-in.

    2. Because if they are right about certain pesticides killing the bees as a side effect it should be pretty obvious that deregulating them lets more widespread usage of those chemicals. It’s pretty obvious why people are concerned. Pruitt has been a long time advocate for completely eliminated the EPA and air pollution standards.

  10. OT: Trump meets Butt-buddy.

    President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the G20 summit Friday for more than two hours and discussed alleged Russian election interference, Ukraine, Syria and fighting terrorism.

    This marked the first time the two world leaders met, and their meeting lasted 96 minutes longer than the 30 minutes that were originally scheduled.

    Deciding how to divide Europe between the US and Russia takes time.

    TW: DailyCaller

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/07…..g-hamburg/

    1. This marked the first time the two world leaders met

      I thought the narrative was that they’ve been best bros for decades, and take fishing trips together. Did I miss an update?

    2. See yesterday, he says some things about taking a stand in Poland, and it’s literally WWIII – today he talks Syria with Putin and he’s back to being a Russian puppet.

      It’s so hard keeping these goddamn narratives straight when they change every 24 hours.

      1. The lefties have an email narrative reminder daily.

        I would get you the link but they fucking hate us Libertarians.

        1. email? so, a quick bit of phishing should reel in complete access.

      2. “It’s so hard keeping these goddamn narratives straight”

        Homophobe. They could be heteronarrative. Nttawwt

      3. I’ve never seen anything than him being a cock holster for Putin. It’s pretty obvious the Russians hacked the election, whether TrumpCo was in on it or not remains to be seen. I don’t understand the reasonable people at Reason not seeing the tunnel vision that Trump has for the Russians. He’s either colluding or just dumb.

    3. Well, the dick-measuring contest had to have taken at least 10 minutes.

      1. Small hands, I think that issue was settled as soon as they shook hands.

    4. Thick envelopes were exchanged.

  11. ” and a growing body of scientific evidence ”
    It went from one idiot to three idiots. Major growth.

    Except for the part where the damn bees forgot to die off.

    Maybe one fine day all the science deniers will realize that God/Mother Nature/the intelligent designer/ whatever you go with, knows a whole lot more about earth than any raving lunatic agitator.

  12. One salient fact from the article: “In 2016, there were 2.78 million honeybee colonies in the United States?16 percent more than when the disorder hit in 2006. In fact, there are more honeybee colonies in the country today than in nearly 25 years.”

    Fallacious argument. More colonies does not necessarily mean more bees. It could be that the bees were balkanized.

    1. Are you arguing that they’re maintaining and transporting empty colonies around?

      1. BEES ARE NON-MIGRATORY!

        European bees, I mean. African bees I suppose might migrate.

      2. You think apiarists are above gerrymandering?

    2. This is bad. Balkanized honeybees are even worse than Africanized ones.

      1. Do they commit genocide in the former Yugoslavia?

      2. Cultural appropriation?

    3. Well, considering that it was the loss of colonies that was considered the worrying trend, and increase of colonies should be at least some good news.

      1. It is. Some people can only see extremes though. There can be a problem -and- there can be efforts to solve it going at the same time. It wasn’t hard for them to measure that 20% of the colonies would die over winter and sudden spike that 40-50% started not surviving over winter. Some people just toe the like though and are party cock holsters instead of actually studying the issue. Not everything the “other side” says is without merit.

    4. More colonies does not necessarily mean more bees.

      Perhaps not necessarily, but practically, I think it does.

    5. And will have interminable bee wars & intrigue.

  13. Pesticides and birds: If this story sounds familiar, it’s probably because Rachel Carson wrote about it back in 1962. Carson’s seminal Silent Spring was the first popular attempt to warn the world that pesticides were contributing to the “sudden silencing of the song of birds.”

    “I think there is a parallel, of course,” said Ruud Foppen, an ornithologist at SOVON and co-author of the Nature paper.

    From a NatGeo article about neonicotinoids un-ironically titled Second Silent Spring? I suspect there’s a parallel here, too, Mr. Foppen.

    1. I suspect there’s a parallel here, too, Mr. Foppen.

      It’s just perpendicular to the one he’s got in mind.

  14. “One salient fact from the article: “In 2016, there were 2.78 million honeybee colonies in the United States?16 percent more than when the disorder hit in 2006. In fact, there are more honeybee colonies in the country today than in nearly 25 years.””

    How many beehives were destroyed by this syndrome in the same period? What was the cost of the damage? Do we have any better idea of the cause of the syndrome? Until we know the cause, I think it’s a little premature to say that anything has been averted.

    1. Millennial bees just weren’t as interested in sex.

      1. Perhaps that’s the cause. It’s an unsolved mystery at the moment. One sure thing is that tax-payers rather than capitalists are paying for the lion’s share of the research,

      2. Lazy bees just wanting to hang out in Queen Bee’s basement.

      3. It’s a good thing that bee generations pass much more quickly than human ones do.

        1. Sadly, that’s not how it works, it just means we get, like, a hundred generations of Millenial bees.

    2. Until we know the cause, I think it’s a little premature to say that anything has been averted.

      Considering the ‘disaster’ is a fallacious collapse of food production, yeah, we’re safe in saying it was averted. Major cash crops pollinate entirely without the assistance of bees. Fad-food and nutritionally vacuous weeds (read Kale) marketed as vegetables and exotic melons and fruits *might* get more expensive.

      1. “Considering the ‘disaster’ is a fallacious collapse of food production, yeah, we’re safe in saying it was averted.”

        Your government is spending tens of millions in public funds researching the syndrome. They should be informed that Capitalism has already averted the disaster.

        1. “Your government is spending tens of millions in public funds researching the syndrome. They should be informed that Capitalism has already averted the disaster.”

          You should go post where your brand of idiocy is taken as some other than idiocy.

        2. Shit, you mean we just have to TELL the govt to stop spending money on shit we don’t approve of? WHY DID NOBODY FUCKING TELL US SOONER?!?L!@

          1. Run for office yourself on an anti bee research platform if the issue means a lot to you.

            1. That could be a winning issue. Bees and wasps are even less popular than Muslims in some corners.

          2. I didn’t recall you being the entirety of Congress. I don’t have a problem if evidence points at there being a solution and it is audited work. Some people don’t approve of spending on interstates, yet I bet they use them.

        3. Your government is spending tens of millions in public funds researching the syndrome. They should be informed that Capitalism has already averted the disaster.

          Dude, my government spends tens of millions of dollars to inform me that they know the market has solved the problem.

          A cursory glance at the data demonstrates that ~$300M worth of honey was produced last year and ~$300M dollars in value were rendered for almond pollination services. Everything else was relatively minor, if not insignificant and/or otherwise indistinguishable from production noise. I mean, I suppose it’s an absolute moral imperative that we figure out how to optimize the spending of several hundred thousand dollars in multi-billion dollar markets, but it seems more like the sort of thing that the private sector could sort out by itself.

          1. I think the bees’ impact on life on the planet goes far beyond America’s honey and almond industries. Your perspective on the issue seems extremely narrow.

            1. Yeah, to be honest, most of us don’t care what those with 6 legs think.

        4. Your government is spending tens of millions in public funds researching the syndrome. They should be informed that Capitalism has already averted the disaster.

          Imagine if that tens of millions had been spent by the bee keepers themselves.

    3. Unionized bees refuse to work for free.

      1. #PollinateAmerican

        1. #MakePollinationGreatAgain

      2. That’s it! California forced the almond farmers to send the bees’ contact information to the SEIU.

        1. It explains why the bees moved away.

      3. Wait a minute.

        You mean they brought the Africanized bees over intending to force them to work for free?

        Amistad.

  15. “In response, a wave of local cities and towns are taking steps to ban bee-killing pesticides?and not a minute too soon. With Trump in the White House and science-denier Scott Pruitt running the EPA, the bees aren’t getting any help from D.C.”

    “People WILL DIE!”

    1. #BeeLivesMatter

      1. Bee serious.

        1. That’s bee on the pail.

          1. Ohh, that stings!

            1. Correction: ohh honey, that stings!

  16. I think you’re being overly dismissive of the neonicotinoid theory.
    It wasn’t right away that people just latched onto this idea that this particular class of pesticides was the problem. There was several years in which the cause was unknown, while activists went around theorizing that GMOs or global warming or any number their other favorite targets was responsible. Only after actual research results started coming in pointing at neonics did that become the dominant theory. It’s not really conclusive, but it’s not evidence free either, and it’s based on science. We could do a lot worse. (Had the neonic theory not emerged, they would probably still be blaming GMOs).

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that neonics have to be banned, either. It’s not clear what uses of those pesticides are affecting honeybee populations. It could be that the problem is that commercial bee populations are transported to fields too soon after spraying has occured, in which case, beekeepers could simply insist on more time before they will bring the bees. Obviously it’s not just flat out killing the bees immediately, but having some sort of subtle effect on the hive that eventually leads to collapse, so there might be a workaround that just limits neonic use in some way that prevents it from impacting bee colonies. Or it mgiht turn out that honeybee breeders win the race and just end up producing a species of honeybee that tolerates whatever is causing the problem.

    1. Also the increase in the number of honeybee colonies is largely because, as a response to CCD, beekeeping became a “thing” among environmentally conscious hipsters across Canada and the US (my retarded socialist sister kept bees for a while). That and there was a scandal about fake Chinese honey on the US market. In either case, “local” “raw” honey is now a trend and lots of small local beekeepers emerged to supply a new demand for artesianal honey that seems to have conveniently emerged right around the same time.

      Actually, I kind of like all the interesting new honey flavors we have now. It used to just be clover honey, but now you can get things like “buckwheat”, “acacia”, and “orange blossom” honey. This wouldn’t have happened if a bunch of hipsters hadn’t jumped into the market because they were trying to save honeybee populations from CCD.

      1. Actually, I kind of like all the interesting new honey flavors we have now. It used to just be clover honey, but now you can get things like “buckwheat”, “acacia”, and “orange blossom” honey. This wouldn’t have happened if a bunch of hipsters hadn’t jumped into the market because they were trying to save honeybee populations from CCD.

        Some of us can remember wildflower and wildberry honeys and lamented the rise of clover honey before it was cool to do so.

      2. New honey flavors… it’s all Frankenhoney. They combined a bee with a coconut and voila! Pina Colada-flavored honey. It’s an abomination, I tells you.

        1. pina colada without pineapple, abominable indeed.

      3. I remember my mom getting me a pack of multiflavor honeysticks (pixie sticks, but filled with honey) from the healthfood store sometime around the early 90s.

      4. You must mean artisinal. Artesian honey would be a great discovery! But what would it do to your plumbing?

      5. “It used to just be clover honey, but now you can get things like “buckwheat”, “acacia”, and “orange blossom” honey. This wouldn’t have happened if a bunch of hipsters hadn’t jumped into the market.”

        I am in my 50s and acacia and orange blossom honey have been around and widely available long before any hipsters were even conceived; orange blossom being the most common when I was a kid. I now live in Northern California near a small town where honey was its major cash crop. Although no longer the top source of income, honey is still an important local produce. Here, well before any hipsters came around, it is made from star thistle.

  17. But will preserving bee populations…come back to sting us?

  18. I found a great site that focuses on stay at home mom’s complete guide to gaining a serious amount of money in very little time. While being able to earn an passive income staying home with your kids. If you are someone who needs more money and has some spare time, this site is perfect for you. Take a look at…

    follow this link?..????????????

    Trump”s New Opprunuties See Here

  19. I found a great site that focuses on stay at home mom’s complete guide to gaining a serious amount of money in very little time. While being able to earn an passive income staying home with your kids. If you are someone who needs more money and has some spare time, this site is perfect for you. Take a look at…

    follow this link?..????????????

    Trump”s New Opprunuties See Here

  20. Scientist around 2012 found out that it was a fly that was causing the problems.
    just google zombees and you will find articals on them.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.