CATCH THE BUZZ
Real Numbers On Pesticide Losses
A year ago a commercial beekeeper in Pennsylvania had 200 colonies killed by a misapplication of pesticides. The spray was put on at the wrong time of day, on a crop that had blooming weeds. In 30 days all 200 colonies were all dead. The beekeeper did some, what I would call informal notebook figuring on what the cost of that spray entailed to the farm crops, and the farmers, that those 200 colonies would have worked for, for a whole season. Because this email program doesn’t do columns very well, I’m going to spell out each crop, but you can tidy them up if you wish later.
Remember, 200 colonies. You know beekeepers with that many colonies.
For this calculation, farm gate value is what a farmer would lose without those 200 colonies pollinating the various crops this beekeeper pollinates over the course of a season. For Retail value loss, this is the ultimate cost to the US Agriculture economy because the food those bees would have produced, wasn’t produced.
For almonds, the farm gate value of lost almonds is $50,000.00 The Retail value loss is $500,000.00.
For Georgia Blueberries, farm gate value loss was $10,000.00, and the retail value loss is $800,000.00
For Pennsylvania apples, the farm gate value loss is the same as the retail value loss, $2,000,000.00
For Maine Blueberries, farm gate value loss was $50,000.00, and retail value loss was $500,000.00
And for Pennsylvania pumpkins, farm gate value loss was $5,000, but the retail value was $1,000,000.00
The farm gate value loss…that is, the money farmers lost because those bees weren’t there, totals just over $2,000,000.00. Because 1 farmer screwed up that much money was lost to many other farmers. You might wonder why they would tolerate that kind of behavior, wouldn’t you?
If you total the loss to the agriculture economy because of this one incident, that is, killing 200 colonies of honey bees, the total value is $4,800,000.00…nearly $5 million. That figure would, we suspect, get the attention of any government official who is worried about the financial condition of his local economy.
Of course there’s the loss to the beekeeper, too. Without those 200 colonies there is the $30,000.00 replacement cost, and $102,000.00 lost in pollination fee income, for a total of $132,000.00.
But look at the comparative losses. The real loss to the beekeeper, a mere $132,000.00 is less than 3% of the retail loss…in science, that’s not a significant figure, and in economics that’s a rounding error. In beekeeping, it’s a bankrupt business. If you want to put a realworld figure on that, each and every one of those 200 colonies ultimately generates...$24,000.00 for this nation's economy. $24,000.00. That is the true value of a pollination unit in a professionally run Commercial Beekeeping Business.
As we said, this is a quick estimate, but if you look at it, it’s a pretty good estimate. There is a real financial loss…not only to beekeepers, but to growers, processors, wholesale and retail sellers, and ultimately consumers when pesticide application regulations are ignored or violated. And more importantly, when those regulations are not enforced by those responsible. Unfortunately, there's nothing left to take to the bank.