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Pollination Economics: The Supply of Honey and Pollination Services in the Face of Pollinator Decline

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Hilton Atlanta, 401
Hosted By: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
  • Chair: Brittney Goodrich, Auburn University

Does Colony Loss Reduce Honey Yields?

Peyton Ferrier
USDA Economic Research Service


While most agricultural goods is marked by increasing productivity, honey yields have fallen 29% since 2000. Throughout this period, both honey bee colony loss rates and pollination service income – the other main source of revenue for beekeepers – have also been high, suggesting a link between poor colony health and the long-distance movement and co-location of colonies in California to service its large and lucrative almond bloom. We use beekeepers survey data from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to estimate the response of honey yields to changes in the beekeeper’s colony loss rates and the beekeeper’s share of colonies moved to California for almond pollination. We estimate that, on average, a 1 percentage point increase in the loss rate decreases honey yield by 0.362 pounds, but smaller beekeepers experience a greater yield reduction for a given loss rate than larger beekeepers. We also estimate that a 10 percentage point increase in beekeeper’s share of colonies moved to California in the almond pollination season decreases yield by 0.8 pounds.

The Great Bee Migration: Supply Analysis of Honey Bee Colony Shipments into California for Almond Pollination Services

Brittney Goodrich
Auburn University
Jeffrey Williams
University of California-Davis
Rachael Goodhue
University of California-Davis


Over the last two decades, the number of honey bee colonies performing
pollination services for the California almond industry has grown
steadily and now equals a substantial share of all colonies in the
U.S. Most U.S. beekeeping operations have not expanded their colony
numbers at the current levels of almond pollination fees. Thus, as
almond acreage has increased, the marginal supplier of colonies has
moved further away from California, increasing interstate shipments.
We provide a conceptual representation of the supply and demand of
U.S. colonies for almond pollination, and utilize the relatively inelastic
demand for colonies to explore spatial elasticities of supply. We
analyze temporal and spatial characteristics of the supply of colonies
for almond pollination using colony shipment data from 2007 through
2018 provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
We use a geographically weighted regression to calculate supply elasticities
for each state during this time period by combining the shipment data
with prices from the California State Beekeeper’s Association
pollination fee survey. Florida and Texas, where beekeepers have hesitated
to participate in almond pollination due to relatively high transportation
costs and the potential for local honey production at the time of
almond bloom, have some of the highest price elasticities of supply.
This suggests that beekeepers in areas with low transportation and/or
opportunity costs have supplied all available colonies, and increases
in almond pollination fees have had little effect. We estimate that
Florida, Georgia and Texas had the largest number of colonies which
did not participate in almond pollination in 2017, so further increases
in supply are likely to come from these states.

Beekeeper Costs and Supply Functions for United States Honey and Pollination Services

Daniel Sumner
University of California-Davis
Antoine Champetier
University of California-Davis


We report on our newly developed data and estimates of beekeeper costs of operation which
include data on each operation undertaken by honey producers and pollinators including labor,
transport costs and materials for pest and disease management. We use these data and new
survey data to combine with USDA NASS information to develop estimates of a synthetic supply
function for pollination services to almonds and for subsequent crops and the supply function
of U.S.-produced honey. The positions and shapes of these supply functions are crucial to
understanding how the industry will react to changes in demand for pollination services and
changes in market conditions including shifts in the price and quantity of honey imports.

Support for Native, Solitary Pollinator Conservation among the Public versus Hobby Beekeepers

Jerrod Penn
Louisiana State University
Wuyang Hu
Ohio State University
Hannah Penn
Louisiana State University


Honey bees are unique in that they are one of the few charismatic insect species, which can be
easily recognized by the public and are conservation symbols. Honey bees are also a non-native,
domesticated livestock, which directly compete for resources with native pollinators.
Additionally, bee losses are often attributed to honey bees alone even though native pollinators are more at risk. This leads to the question of whether beekeeping has complementary effects on willingness to conserve other native pollinators. A survey is implemented of hobby beekeepers and the general public in Louisiana examining willingness to pay to install a ‘bee hotel,’ a nesting site to support a variety of native, solitary bees as well as potential explanations based on other attitudes and knowledge towards bees versus other pollinators. In the absence of this complementary effect, hobby beekeepers may in fact be doing more harm than good to support conservation.
JEL Classifications
  • Q0 - General