Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Ecstasy of the Bees

The Federal Government frets about dwindling honeybee populations. Monoculture, dwindling habitat, micro-predators, and possibly nicotine-based pesticides may contribute to empty colonies nationwide.

Agriculture in the US isn't exactly command-and-control, but the big corn-producing state legislators have upheld the longstanding tacit pact that it'll never not be heavily politicized. Subsidies to farmers (which though the magic of cross-elasticity of demand are actually subsidies to Archer-Daniels Midland and Monsanto) ensure that enormous swaths of the heartland are dedicated to just a few varieties of soy, corn, and wheat. Put another way, it's agricultural policy in the first place that contributes to the problem, and perhaps a good step towards relieving the symptom of fewer bees is to end the corrupt, addictive habit of allowing Congress to interfere with farming.

I'm also sort of curious to what extent the DoT, HUD & al will be responsible for maintaining wildflower populations in proposed greensward areas. Are we going to see a new marigold czar come out of this?

I agree that apiary management is vital to crop health. That's kind of obvious. What's less obvious is that unelected bureaucrats with no skin in the game are better poised than farmers to make commercial decisions on their behalf. The costs of a nationwide foul brood brought on by government mismanagement are too awful to contemplate. Let's hope that if the worst happens, we might all live to regret it.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite econtalk podcasts was on honey bees. It was very informative.
    Also, a red flag for me in these articles is that they never cite the proportion of colonies lost in a normal year, which I assume is more than 0. As the time period where we hear about this stretches to decades, that omission is dubious.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?