10 June 2008
Last flight of the honeybee?
Einstein is alleged to have said that if the honeybee becomes extinct, then so will mankind.
In the UK, there are some 270,000 hives managed by 44,000 beekeepers (an average of about six hives each), 90 per cent of whom are amateurs. Defra thinks beekeeping contributes about £165 million a year through pollination services (£3,750 per beekeeper). Defra says 5,000 tonnes of British honey are sold yearly, worth £12 million (I make that £2,40 per kilo, or around £1.10 per lb).
In the US, around 80 per cent of the world's almonds come from the orchards of Central Valley, California - pollinated by bees. Trucks loaded with 500 hives tour the region, and the US$1.9 billion industry is almost entirely dependent on bees.
From the weekend magazine of The Guardian newspaper, 31 May 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/31/animalwelfare.environment