Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2000
Publication Date: 11/1/2000
Citation: Kemp, W.P. 2000. The future of crop pollination. American Bee Journal.140:851-853
Interpretive Summary: The number of honey bee hives available for crop pollination in the U.S. is declining at a time when the need for those hives is increasing. The depressed price of honey together with increases in operating costs due to Varroa and trachael mites has forced many traditional honey bee keepers to leave the business. With each beekeeper that leaves the business, there are fewer honey bee hives to pollinate more than $10 billion in crop each year which rely on bees to set fruit. This article was solicited by the editors of the American Bee Journal to offer insight into new business opportunities, for traditional honey bee keepers, through the use of other "wild bee" species (non-honey bees) which can be managed easily and which perform better than honey bees in certain niche markets. The article suggests ways to improved profitability through the use of new pollinators.
Technical Abstract: This review article, solicited by the editor of the American Bee Journal, explores how traditional beekeepers and custom pollinators may improve their profitability as well as that of their customers through the expanded use of non-honey bee pollinators like the alfalfa leafcutting bee, orchard mason bees, and bumblebees. This review also provides specific suggestions concerning routine pollination with honey bees, and uses the challenges faced by custom pollinators of almonds in California as an example. Traditional beekeepers are introduced to the concept that in some crops - for example, alfalfa seed which is pollinated primarily with the alfalfa leafcutting bee in most western States and Canadian Provinces - alternative managed pollinators are in demand. Discussion is also presented which reveals that producer demand for other non-honey bee species - for example, orchard mason bees in orchard crops - is increasing and that new niche markets are opening up for interested and creative custom pollinators.