The Bioeconomics of Honey Bees and Pollination
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We develop a model of beekeeping economics that incorporates within-year and between-year dynamics in the size of the honey bee population. Our model also accounts for the fact that the pollen and nectar collected by bees on crops are limiting resources for both bee growth and honey production. We argue that diminishing returns to foraging by bees is a central constraint of the economic problem of beekeeping and that availability of forage plays an important role in determining the abundance of honey bees. Furthermore, we show how the behaviors of individual beekeepers are aggregated through markets for bees and characterize the response of the beekeeping industry to changes in honey prices, winter losses, and other factors. Our model sets the bases for an empirical approach to estimate the relative contributions of different biological and economic factors to changes in honey bee populations in the United States over the past 60 years.