This year we have heard about several trucks filled with honeybees overturn or have other accidents as trucks regularly transport hives of bees across the country for use by commercial farmers to pollinate their crops.


Many farmers who harvest crops such as almonds, apples, sunflowers, and grapes have come to depend on renting bees from commercial beekeepers because wind and other physical processes are often ineffective at pollinating the crops.


Commercial beekeeping is a multi-million dollar business according to the US Department of Agriculture in a 2014 report. Many beekeepers – who work on a contract basis – live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, often transporting the bees’ long distances to reach farmers.


Each truckload of bees contains about 400 to 500 hives, with each hive containing a single queen and between 10,000 and 30,000 worker bees – however during summer months the hives can contain 50,000 to 60,000 worker bees.   Honeybees are often preferred by beekeepers because they are easier to transport in a densely-packed colony than other potential pollinating creatures, such as bats, wasps, or butterflies.


Despite several reports of bee-related accidents in the past few years beekeepers take particular precautions in transporting the bees, loading them onto trucks at night or before sunrise when they are in their hives and relatively inactive.


It is also quite profitable -the service often comes at a price: beekeepers took in $292.5 million in fees solely for pollinating almond crops alone, the USDA report stated – so it is in everyone’s interest for the bee to arrive safely at their destination.

The loss of hundreds of thousands of bees in a single crash frequently ends up being yet another blow to the commercial bee industry, which has suffered extensive losses in recent years due to colony collapse. Without pollination by commercial honeybees the United States could effectively lose one-third of all its crops, including broccoli, blueberries, cherries, apples, melons, and lettuce.

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