The Business of Bees

Bloomberg Environment reporters spent six months reporting on the plight of the honeybee for a new podcast, available now.

Business of Bees analyzes the critical dangers facing honeybees – a tiny insect with an outsized impact on the economy. Shared in a storytelling style backed by the journalistic rigor you expect from Bloomberg Environment, this series examines what has changed in the decade since colony collapse disorder was first identified.

Episode 1

The effects of Colony Collapse Disorder are still reverberating in hives throughout the U.S., but the business of bees is actually booming.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that commercial beekeeping adds more than $15 billion in economic value to agriculture each year, with no sign of a recession in sight.

Episode 2

Hosts Adam Allington and David Schultz take us back to the earliest days of beekeeping in Egypt and tell us how humans and honeybees formed a partnership that has spanned thousands of years and several continents. In addition to the obvious benefits of producing honey, Apis Mellifera, also known as the European honeybee, has also inspired the imagination of thinkers and philosophers from the “land of milk and honey,” up to a 19th century minister who invented the modern beehive.

Episode 3

Commercial honey bees take laps around the U.S. to pollinate fruits, veggies and nuts – and their services aren’t cheap. But they are essential. Hosts Adam Allington and Tiffany Stecker talk with farmers in California about the rising costs of hives and how those traveling bees could be pushing native pollinators out of their habitats.

Episode 4

Fluffy black and yellow-striped honeybees are the poster species for environmentalists working to save these struggling insects. But what about the other thousands of bee species pollinating crops and flowers? Hosts Adam Allington and David Schultz explore how the honeybee came to be the classic bee.

Episode 5

A mite called Varroa destructor sounds like it belongs in a sci-fi film, not in beehives where they have been wreaking havoc since the late 1980s. That’s when the parasitic mites arrived on U.S. soil from Asia.  For years, pesticides were thought to be the leading cause of increased die-offs among honeybees. But new studies suggest that Varroa might be affecting bee health much more than we thought.

Episode 6

Bees are up against a lot these days: a shrinking habitat, invasive mites, Colony Collapse Disorder, and even the pesticides on the crops they help pollinate. Hosts Adam Allington, Tiffany Stecker and David Schultz dig into recent studies that show nectar and pollen contaminated with insecticides may be harming bees much more than previously thought.