miscellaneous musings

In(sect)flation and honey bees

This morning, NPR reported on a semi that wrecked near Island Park, Idaho. The truck, traveling from California to North Dakota, spilled 400 hives onto U.S. Highway 20. Local authorities are concerned that the “river of honey” oozing across the pavement will attract grizzly bears from the nearby forests.

But the item that caught my attention was the price they placed on the bees. The local television station KIFI reported the bees had a street value of thee cents apiece. With an estimated 14 million bees lost, that adds up to “$400,000 worth of insects.”

All these number are a little sketchy. Fourteen million bees divided by 400 hives equals 35,000 bees/hive. Okay, that seems reasonable. Fourteen million times 0.03 equals $420,000. So that’s close. But where does the three cents per bee come from? The article doesn’t say.

Last fall I calculated the price per bee in a new package as one-half cent per bee. To get six times that much, the writer is probably adding in the cost of lost equipment, honey, and maybe pollination contracts. I don’t know and he doesn’t say.

At three cents per bee, your average backyard hive in summer would be worth $1,500. Better tie it down. If you have ten hives, you are up to $15,000. Better put up a fence. If the press would only explain the numbers, people would get a better picture of reality.

The rest of the article is pretty much what you’d expect, including references to “14 million angry bees,” “hair-flailing acts of self-preservation,” bees “going bezerk,” and “black clouds” of bees “rampaging along a rural highway.” Is it any wonder we have so much anti-bee legislation?


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  • I have 80 hives I will gladly sell for $1500 each :). Buy them all at once and receive an additional 10% off! Of course I would then turn around and get 80 more for a much more reasonable price. Love the “hair-flailing acts of self-preservation,” bees “going bezerk,” and “black clouds” of bees “rampaging along a rural highway.” comments. Leave it to a sensationalist press corps to take a bad situation and make it worse. How about feeling bad for the bees, the beekeeper, and maybe some farmer’s crop which may miss out on pollination.