Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to convince your landlord to host hives?

I am a beginner beekeeper. Lately, I was looking for a place to locate couple of hives. I've compiled the following information to convince landlords to host hives on their properties.

Jennifer Sass [1] asks "Why we need bees?" and answers "Nature’s tiny workers put food on our tables.

Pulitzer Prize winning biologist Edward O. Wilson has put it elegantly [2]:
     "Every third bite of food you take, thank a bee or other pollinator."

Pollination is an absolute necessity for the ecological balance of our planet Earth. Among the pollinators are birds, bats, small mammals and insects including butterflies, wasps, beetles, moths, flies, and so on... And of course, honeybees. Here are some interesting facts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture [3]:
  • Approximately 75 percent of the crop plants are pollinated by animals.
  • It is estimated that insect-pollinated crops contributed $20 billion to the US economy for the year 2000. This estimation would increase to $40 billion if indirect products - such as milk and beef from cattle fed on alfalfa - are included.
  • Bees are responsible for pollinating crops, as well as garden, meadow, and forest plants. 
  • Honeybees account for 80% of all insect pollination.

Albert Einstein supposedly said: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live." In reality, he never said it [4, 5]. However, the idea behind this quote is valid: Honey bees are a major factor in global food production. And the concerns about declining bees are real - threatening the global food security [6, 7].

While grains - such as corn, wheat, rice - are pollinated by wind; animal pollination is essential for fruit, nut and vegetable crops, and hence the honey bees. Here is the list of crop plants pollinated by bees [8]. 

Sanford [9] studied the pollination of citrus trees by honey bees. Lerner and Hirst [10] reviewed the pollination requirements for various plants, including small fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries), tree fruits (apple, apricot, cheery, peach, pear, plum), and nut trees(walnut, chestnut, hazelnut, pecan, hican, hickory): 
     "Even with a self-pollinated plant, bees are still necessary to transfer pollen. Examples of self-pollinated fruits are sour cherries, apricots, and peaches."

If you happen to have a backyard, orchard or garden with vegetables, fruit trees or flowers, please do a further research for pollination requirements for your specific plants and consider having bee hives in your garden. Once you have incredible industrious honey bees in your garden working for you as pollinators, you will see a significant increase in the yield of fruits, vegetables and blooming flowers

Final Reminder:
Respect the nature. Avoid killing insects that are working for you as pollinators; while plants are in bloom, do NOT apply insecticides.


[1] Why We Need Bees: Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables, by Jennifer Sass, Natural Resources Defense Council, March 2011.
[2] The Forgotten Pollinators, by Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan, introduction by Edward O. Wilson, 1997.
[3] Native Pollinators, Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Leaflet, Number 34, May 2005.
[4] Major Paper Repeats Bogus Einstein Bee Quote, by Dan Shapley, July 2011.
[5] Did Albert Einstein Ever Link Doom of Human Race to Bees?, Benefits of Honey, Jan 2012.
[6] The Buzz About Bees, by Donna Gleisner, Snohomish Conservation District.
[7] Einstein was right - honey bee collapse threatens global food security, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph, Feb 2011.
[8] List of crop plants pollinated by bees, Wikipedia.
[9] Pollination of Citrus by Honey Bees, by Malcolm T. Sanford, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida, May 2003.
[10] Pollination of Fruits and Nuts, by B. Rosie Lerner and Peter Hirst, Department of Horticulture, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Dec 2002.