Colony Collapse Disorder in North American Honey Bees: History, Economics and Policy
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In recent years, millions of bees have died in North America as part of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. This thesis analyzes the importance of productive bee colonies and how their act of pollination is a vital ecosystem service to many of our economies. It identifies the major crops reliant on bee pollination and the many ecological threats that declining bee populations pose. Using data from the USDA, university studies, and other scientific research, this thesis evaluates the many reasons for the decline of honeybees as a result of the gradual decline of the nation’s current agricultural system.
This thesis looks at the history of honeybees in North America as well as how the modern honeybee industry came to be what it is today. This thesis uses the discipline of economics to demonstrate the monetary value of bee pollination and other ecological services and the costs that honeybee declines pose. Finally, it analyzes the political action of other countries compared to the United States in regards to preserving the honeybee to suggest a level of inadequacy on the part of the latter. Using the success of apiaries in Vermont as a case study, it will suggest policy recommendations for the United States based on the unique factors of Vermont’s agricultural system. Such policies could include banning the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides, reducing large-scale farming operations and monocultures, education, and promoting/incentivizing organic agriculture techniques.