The Great Bee Migration: Spatial and Temporal Variation in Honey Bee Colony Shipments into California for Almond Pollination

Over the last two decades, the quantity of honey bee colonies required to perform pollination services for the California almond industry has grown steadily and now equals a substantial share of the U.S. population of honey bee colonies. Most U.S. beekeeping operations have not been willing to expand colony capacity without signif- icant increases in almond pollination fees. Thus, as almond acreage in California has increased, the marginal supplier of colonies for almond pollination has likely moved further away from California, increasing interstate colony shipments. To explore this concept, we analyze temporal and spatial characteristics of the supply of colonies for almond pollination using colony shipment data from 2008 through 2016 provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The largest increases in shipments since 2008 have come from the states of Florida and Texas, where beekeepers have relatively high transportation costs and historically have observed opportunity costs of participating in almond pollination due to the potential for honey production at the time of almond bloom. We estimate that Florida and Texas had the largest number of colonies which did not participate in almond pollination in 2016, so further increases in supply are likely to come from these states.

Issue Date:
Jan 17 2018
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
Total Pages:
JEL Codes:
Q13; Q11

 Record created 2018-01-17, last modified 2018-01-22

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