--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
, Doug Yanega <dyanega@...> wrote:
> I'm having some trouble tracking down a firm estimate of the number
> of honey bee hives in the US that are used solely for pollination and
> NOT for honey production (the number for honey production was 2.44
> million hives in 2008, so that figure is solid and citable). Does
> anyone know a good, authoritative source for a nation-wide figure?
I doubt such a number exists. The ag censuses are taken at the state level.
I filled out many a form for the ag census over the years. At one
point in early summer, I figured I had 1300 hives, of which only
about 200 were used for honey prouction. This is not a major honey
Thus my bees were always undercounted, because they only counted the
ones used for honey production. I pointed this out on several
occasions to the ag department officials, but never saw any
indication of any change in the census.
My pollination bees generally did at least two pollinations per
season, some did three. Do you count each pollination, or?
Another item, some were used for queen rearing in the spring, then
generally either given a queen or more likely merged back into some
nucs to build them up quickly.
Even beyond this, the number of hives can vary quite a bit throughout
the year and depends on how they are counted. I have little
confidence in the USDA's "solid and citable" figure.
In the fall, I would generally "take my winter losses early" and
combine weak or queenless hives with strong ones. After a summer of
pesticide hits, I sometimes had to combine three or four.
If you asked me how many hives I had, would you want to know: how
many after I made up 400 nucs in late spring, how many I had left
after the cotton spray season, or how many I had late in the winter?
Any real number for any purpose is probably closely related to the
number of brood boxes with usable comb. A beekeeper has to fill these
at least for a portion of each year, or lose the comb to wax worms,
and once lost, they are usually more trouble to restore than to get
new ones. And that figure is generally known only to the beekeeper.
Retired SC beekeeper