Bees For Sale?



Not long ago, to me, the very idea of seeing ads featuring bees for sale would have seemed very bizarre indeed. Yet purchasing honey bees in order to establish a new colony in a bee hive is very common practice.


However, it is now possible to purchase bees that previously reproduced only in the wild environment. In other words, they are now being bred commercially by humans for pollination. This is a relatively new development.

Wild Bees For Sale?

The fact is that many solitary bees (such as Orchard Mason Bees) and bumblebees are excellent pollinators. A company called Koppert began rearing bumble bees for sale and commercial pollination in the 1980s, after it became recognised that bumblebees were, through their ability to buzz pollinate, the most efficient pollinators of tomatoes.

It seems, however, that increasingly, and with the troubles experienced by honey bees through Colony Collapse Disorder and so on, the rearing of bumblebees and solitary bees for sale and commercial use is increasing.

You might think that I would be pleased about this development. Actually I feel uneasy about it, for the following reasons:



    1. I feel that rearing other bees as a back-up for providing a pollination service, is really a sticking plaster approach to solving a problem in the environment. I believe we should first ask ourselves what these man-made problems are, then address them honestly and responsibly, and in a way that is sustainable and healthier for the environment as a whole. If we look after the environment and work with nature rather than against her (poisoning the planet with toxic chemicals, and destroying habitat and biodiversity), then pollinators should be able to flourish, and continue pollinating our crops and landscapes freely.

    2. Insufficient controls have resulted in the shipping around of bees, and transfer of diseases. Read more about incidents of this in the US, in this report from Xerces (opens new window).

    Apparently, some suppliers of bees for pollination, aim to get around this issue by rearing ‘native bees’ overseas, then shipping them back to their country of origin. But here, UK charity, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has stated there may be potential risks for spreading diseases to bees naturally existing in the wild. Why not simply rear the bees in their own country? …..Although……….

    3. Overall, I worry about where this activity will lead. Time and time again, humans have begun rearing different species to suit mankind, with unhealthy consequences. I’m sure many would say that deliberate breeding can also result in many advantages, but I prefer to trust in a healthy environment that can help foster a healthy biodiversity and natural mixing of the gene pool.

    4. Call me sentimental, but where bees are shipped off to pesticide-laden crops, I am concerned about bee welfare! I really do not like the way man has a habit of disregarding the lives of small creatures as unimportant and dispensable, and I feel this way with regard to insects also. It's high time humans had greater reverence for wildlife generally. If pesticides are part of the problem, let's sort that out first, along with the issue of habitat destruction.

    5. Call me cycnical, but I do wonder whether it would suit makers of highly toxic, bee-killing pesticides, if solitary and bumblebees are used in crop pollination. Why? Instead of banning toxic chemicals, society is offered a so-called "solution" to the honey bee problem. Solitary and bumblebees, have shorter life cycles than honey bee colonies (in other words, they are expected not to live as long as honey bees). Instead of the honey bee pollination service which may be hired, presumably, the solitary and bumblebees can be purchased and replaced yearly, and who is to know about the effects of pesticides? Honey bee colonies, by contrast, are meant to survive beyond a mere pollination season. Without beekeepers to raise the alarm, (as they have in Germany and France, for example), I do wonder if the pesticide companies can get off too lightly. Then of course, honey bees produce honeycomb and pollen - and pesticides can be monitored in these products - and there are those who are interested in this monitoring.

It is not that I am against the very notion that wild bees should pollinate our food crops. My point is, that if conditions in the environment are good, wild bees and other insects will do this freely in any case. We should not even be in this situation of having to rear bees for pollination at all! And if it were not for the fact that our environment is in a mess, we wouldn't need to. But guess what: we will not solve our environmental problems unless we actually address the causes of them!

And so you see, although I can understand the rationale of breeding bees for sale to pollinate our crops, I also wonder whether they help to delay the crucial action we need to take to address our problems, under the guise that all is well, we can get by, just through breeding a few extra bees. I think this is incredibly naive, and a very shoddy way to treat our environment.



All of biodiversity has a role to play. You can read more about these subjects on my page: why do honey bees matter.


You can read about the importance of wild bees for pollination here.




How To Start Beekeeping
Link from Bees For Sale to main beekeeping section.

Honey Bee Deaths and Pesticides
Read this information about honey bee deaths, and a particular group of pesticides: neonicotinoids.

Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker


Link back from Bees For Sale to Home page






STOP PRESS!
Evidence of contamination of commercially
reared bumblebees with viruses
has now been found.
Find out more on my page

Commercially Reared Bumblebees.



Books about
Pollinators and Ecology
and related subjects
FREE DELIVERY
Very good prices too!