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What business would you start with $50,000 to help save bees

biophase

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Yup, here's another what would you do with XXX dollars thread.

I've been thinking of many angles to help beekeepers, or plant more flowers, or just get beekeeping equipment. I haven't come up with any that I'd really be(e) behind.

I would love to get another perspective on this.
 

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Primeperiwinkle

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I’m in idea mode. This is me brainstorming. Toss out whatever..keep what you will.


People have no idea how to make their lawn a thriving healthy environment. INSTEAD what they do is pump 2 to 3x more pesticides on their lawn than farmers do to their crops.


Lawn care pesticides are a tremendous burden on the ecosystem. The grass in suburbia is so toxic that nothing can grow in it besides more toxic grass..literally.. grass that kills dandelion weeds is now sold in Home Depot... and we wonder why delicate insects are dying?

It’s because we like having a sea of perfectly level grass that feeds nothing, accomplishes nothing, and exists only for our own pride.

In most affluent suburbs the HOA would actively punish a homeowner who decided to grow vegetables in their front yard. Woe to the person who bucks the trends and puts in a different style of landscaping... ugh!

People have no concept of just how important bee health is to our food chain. Most have no clue about the war beekeepers are fighting right now to keep a fifth of their bees from dying.. its scary Af.

I think it was last year that they lost 50% of the bees in America?

Sigh. We need areas that are ENTIRELY pesticide free. We’d need communities to be on board with that. How do you get an entire community to understand just how important this is?

Most Americans don’t see the need, yet. By the time they do.. it might be too late.

50k... hmm...

Landing page... a product that connects saving bees with hating pesticides. Connections to home improvement/home makeover sites.. grassroots movement... prestigious award for the community that gets 100% compliance - pesticide free-

Products that support happy insects..

Ughh..

I’m throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.

This is something I really care about but it’s SO BIG I don’t know where to start.

A franchise. A honey making franchise. Communities that have 100% compliance with no pesticides can buy into the franchise and start their own beekeeping garden thing... and they can profit from the honey in their area. Like.. AN ADULT LEMONADE STAND. But with honey!!

Ok that’s all I’ve got right now. Sorry if that was lame. Sigh.
 

Connor

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My grandfather had bees on his 45 acre farm (though he had stopped farming well before then). Always fascinated me, but see the Bee Thinking pitch on Shark Tank and later follow up has made me want to set up some beehives to help combat the depopulation.

I have not done thorough research on them myself, so caveat emptor, but have you looked at the Honeybee Conservancy? Looks interesting. I also wonder if you could set up something similar to "Save the Rainforest," where you could purchase and/or lease land to house beehives and allow others to donate towards that. Not sure you want to spend that time to run a non-profit on the side, but just thought I would throw that out there.
 

AgainstAllOdds

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Are bees actually dying? Or are they only dying in the U.S. and Europe?


Also I don't know much on the topic, but it is interesting that the population is growing in the regions that the honeybee is native to, and dying where it was imported.

From my understanding the majority of bees die over the course of harsh winters - which is not something that they are biologically programmed for. They are native to warm climates, and better set to survive those climates.

It might just be a matter or nature running its course, and if so, I'd assume the best approach is to not go against nature. Instead, I'd invest the $50,000 into reproducing the populations of bees native to North America as it's my assumption that they'd be more capable of surviving the native climate: Native Bees of North America - BugGuide.Net.

These bees unfortunately don't produce honey, so I'm not sure how you'd cash in from bee keepers. Instead you'd have to focus more on grants and government programs to get started.

Another idea could be to create better insulation so that honeybees don't die over the winter.
 

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Much of my family is actively part of the bee industry. They are indeed dying in North America.

Have you seen these new AI robotics that can spray pesticide on individual plants and roots rather than just spraying massive clouds of it over fields? Push that tech and I imagine there can be great results.
 

NursingTn

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I would start a mini bee garden/community.

Research for ways to make their honey as pure and refined as possible for a specific purpose, e.g. medical use, food consumption, etc.

I'd probably do it for medical use since I'm in the healthcare field. Afterward, sell the honey and reinvest into growing the community.

Then come up with other uses for the community:

1) using bees to pollinate other plants

2) create educational events for communities and asking for donations/grants

3) talking to authors of fiction, non-fiction, mangas, TVs, etc to create content on bees for entertainment/educational purposes, and use proceedings to grow bee community, get a bigger land to grow more bee hives

4) get bees and their problems featured in the media and what you are doing about it to drive traffic to you and then start monetizing traffic to spend toward growing more colonies

I'd also target other variables causing bee decline, e.g. pesticide use.
 

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Hi @biophase ,

I know nothing about bees but remember listening to a couple stories about them in the Side Hustle School podcast (which is quite cool by the way).

SIX-FIGURE BEEKEEPING BIZ BUZZES FOR MINNESOTA COUPLE
These guys basically grow hives in Minnesota by breeding the bees so the most resistant to cold will reproduce and survive winter. They make most of their income from selling honey and some from selling hives.

BEEKEEPERS BUILD BUZZING BACKYARD BUSINESS
They "acquire" their hives for free by removing and "rescuing" bee hives which have settled in unwanted places and would be destroyed otherwise. They then wholesale the honey. Low six figures business as well.
 

ZeroTo100

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Yup, here's another what would you do with XXX dollars thread.

I've been thinking of many angles to help beekeepers, or plant more flowers, or just get beekeeping equipment. I haven't come up with any that I'd really be(e) behind.

I would love to get another perspective on this.
Maybe think deeply into the root of the problem and who you’re helping...

From what I understand, it’s not just bees that are on the decline...it’s all insects - dragonflies, Beatles, etc.

Regardless...poor beekeeping practices are part of the problem along with pesticides like neonicotinoids and pests like Varroa destructor mites.

How can you tackle one small portion of any of these problems head on?

Just reading about this stuff makes it scary as shit to think about. I never actually realized that a lot of our fruit and vegetable growth is dependent on bees and other insects and without them could be catastrophic.

Off the top of my head, I started thinking about 2 guys down in Florida that were running Amazon FBA business. I almost bought one of their companies that’s what made me think of them. They got out of FBA and started contributing to ocean cleanup. Basically, pulling thousands of pounds of trash from the ocean. They funded the operation by selling bracelets for a cause that raised awareness and used that money to buy a boat.

I actually like the opportunity here. The challenge could be one that is super important to pretty much everyone.
 
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flower_girl

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Sell wildflower seed mixes at reasonable prices.

I already do here in NZ and they go like hot cakes. Just sold a big order to a guy who is going to plant an entire river bank on his property. I make a modest profit on every bag sold but I also have the satisfaction of knowing thousands more people are going to be planting wildflowers for the bees. Nearly everyone wants to help the bees.
 

ChrisV

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The first question to ask is 'why are they dying'

I put it into Google and found this:


Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees.

Colony collapse disorder causes significant economic losses because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by western honey bees. According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worth of global crops with honey bee pollination was estimated at close to $200 billion in 2005.[9] Shortages of bees in the US have increased the cost to farmers renting them for pollination services by up to 20%


Also this: Why Are The Bees Dying? | Season 2 Episode 46 | It's Okay to Be Smart

Also this:

Much of my family is actively part of the bee industry. They are indeed dying in North America.

Have you seen these new AI robotics that can spray pesticide on individual plants and roots rather than just spraying massive clouds of it over fields? Push that tech and I imagine there can be great results.
Maybe speak with other people in the bee industry and see what their biggest needs are
 

NMdad

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OK, I admit it: I'm an armchair bee geek--actually social insects in general (termites, ants, etc.).

Yes, there's a bit of hysteria about bee die-offs. However, there's a noted bee scientist (can't recall his name) who--based on his research--advocates allowing bee colonies to die off from mites, fungal infections, etc., since those die-offs allow the remaining colonies to be more resistant to those problems. The problem implementing that advice is that it requires essentially all the beekeepers in a geographic area (e.g., typically a county-sized) area to buy in to the strategy--otherwise, the weak colonies won't be weeded out by natural selection; the result is that the area overall continues to have colony die-offs.

OK, so if you have $50k to use to help bees, what would you do? First, a few basic facts (kinda first-principles thinking):
  • $50k won't buy that many hives. It costs ~$200/hive, so $50k would only buy 250 hives. There are ~2.75 million hives in the U.S. (Beekeeping in the United States - Wikipedia). Interestingly, North Dakota has the most honey-producing colonies (485k).
  • Queens are the only bees who can lay both male & female eggs. So they're essentially the sole propagators for genes for the colony.
  • Hive rental is big business for beekeepers, growers who need pollinators, and hive thieves. Hive rental runs about $200 per colony. At 2 hives per acre, some large almond orchard spend $500k/year on hive rental (Honeybees are a hot commodity—and thieves are cashing in).
  • Is it realistic to eliminate pesticides from agriculture? Probably not--it seems like a Sisyphean task.
So, a few ideas:
  • Raise & sell disease-resistant queens. Since the queens propagate the genes for an entire colony, having the most disease-resistant queens would create the strongest colonies.
  • Incentives: to growers to rent resistant colonies, and to beekeepers to allow weak colonies to die. Incentive programs have been used to pay ranchers for cattle killed by wolves--which have had mixed results. And, your $50k would evaporate instead of growing & multiplying.
  • Education outreach: Yeah, this sounds non-profit-y, and would probably be time-intensive, but it could be feasible, especially if you focus on converting an influential group--say, the North Dakota beekeepers.
  • Incentivize existing queen sellers to breed & sell disease-resistant queens.
Seems like a beachhead strategy could work well (to install disease-resistant queens in a geographic ares), but you'd need to figure out a way to saturate the area.
 

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foodiepersecond

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There was a person on Shark Tank who made a honey-free faux honey called Bee Free which was made with only apples, lemon juice, and natural cane sugar. I bought it myself and it really does give you a nice honey feel (considering most "honey" on the marked is diluted with rice sugar and such). I would look for alternatives like that and focus on legislation to ban any adulterated honey. The false idea that you are getting 100% pure honey for a mere 3 or 4 bucks is inspiring people to use honey freely and unnecessarily. A big part of colony collapse disorder is taking out more honey than what is needed to help the bees survive. Due to the lucrative business, people are actually stealing hives and I'm sure that puts a strain on the bees. Unless you are a baker or something and you truly need honey, don't use honey. There are better sugar substitutes and if you have to use honey, go local and get pure unadulterated honey. Any honey coming from an overseas country like Indonesia and such will more than likely be fiddled with. There is a show on Netflix called Rotten and the first episode talks about this very subject matter.
 

foodiepersecond

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So the show I mentioned, Rotten on Netflix, will explain in detail, but obviously pure honey is expensive, so what primarily Chinese manufactures started doing was diluting it with corn syrup. The US ran tests that found the syrup and banned that batch. The Chinese found that brown rice syrup bypassed this test, so they started using that. Once we caught on, we started going after these Chinese manufacturers. They countered by basically shipping this to nearby countries, such as Indonesia and then that country sends it to us, thus bypassing the restrictions on solely China.
 

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1KG of real honey goes for upwards of $10 here.

These overseas sellers and importers can change that to a mix of sugar water at practically pennies on the dollar. Just throw whatever amount of honey back in that you need in order to make it look and feel like honey.

If you see honey in the market for a few dollars a pound, and it is imported from any Asian country, it is essentially glorified sugar water.

I was at a Costco and I literally saw someone comparing that Aunt Jemima fake maple syrup corn sugar garbage to pure maple syrup. Of course the fake stuff was 3x the size at 1/3rd the price. The consumer compared them for a bit, and then in a huff said "what a rip off" and put the real stuff down with the pallet of fake crap. That is what these consumers do with real honey vs. the fake stuff. They compare price and size and that is it. They never stop to consider that they are not even remotely the same product.
 

Danny Sullivan

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I think first and foremost it's necessary to distinguish the difficulty of these times for honey bees on one and wild bees on the other hand, the latter beeing in drastic decline because the focus nowadays is all on honey bees. People in Europe start keeping honey bees on their roofs, gardens or balconies which will fly distance of up to 10 kilometers for just any type of blossoms for nectar and pollens. Beekeepers are constantly moving their stocks around to nearby fields, taking more nectar and pollens from wild bees, which are sometimes tied to a certain type of plant or pollen. A big part of polination of fruit trees in Europe in colder months is done by wild bees when it's simply to cold for honey bees to be active yet.

The current high-performance honey bee breeds are as "natural" as the high-performance animal breeds for food production or mono-cultures (which also play a key role in the necessity to move big bee populations around for polination) and the faster this wheel keeps spinning, the higher the grade of "degeneration" in the form of diseases and higher fragility will become. Also; the more we keep taking the honey (food) from them and stuffing their tiny fluffy backs with sugar water, the more this probably isn't helping with all of it either. Most of these bees probably wouldn't even be able to survive out in the wild without the caretaking and the unnatural factors beekeepers are providing for them. While evolution optimizes for the whole and not for the individual, we're trying our best to provide enough coal for the further destruction of this balance.

A good read for the interested might be the book "Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America's Bees and Butterflies" by The Xerces Society.

What can the individual do? Inform others. Buy resistant seedlings (old sorts), plant them, let them grow wild. If you got a garden and don't care what others think, let it just do it's thing, mow it down by 2/3 in october leaving 1/3 for the "late bloomers", which will go down in winter, repeat. You might want to look into so called "insect hotels", which i have not seen any specificially designed for wild bees.

Can't tell if that's enough for a viable business idea, but it sure would help (if done on a large scale).

Side note: There's also a problem for any type of wild bird, resulting from the lowered count of insects through the extensive use of pesticides. (Which i provide food for year round so they don't eat to many wild bees / insects out of our wild growing garden).
 
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Aix-Geneve

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I think education is the answer. I think educate yourself first (why its happening). You know the answer already - pesticides etc. There are some great up to the minute threads on twitter you can follow for this (anti pesticides etc). Put what you've learnt into a book and sell it (like Kindle) and reach out to other people who have kindle experience (you'll threads by doing a Google Advanced Search on fastlaneforum, for instance). Alternatively, you could sell your book on Gumroad, for free or almost, I believe and cross market on instagram and the usual social media platforms. I reckon you'd do well. Do you have any ideas or solutions? What can common folk do. You'll find that in your research. Put it in your book. You could test on Gumroad (for next to nothing) and if it looks good, you can consider going to Kindle... just an idea. Hell, it could even reach traditional print. This could provide you with a small pot of seed money to implement a bigger idea. This is a topic I am interested in too. But I also have alot of interests - health, nutrition, geopolitics etc.
 

ZeroTo100

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Sell wildflower seed mixes at reasonable prices.

I already do here in NZ and they go like hot cakes. Just sold a big order to a guy who is going to plant an entire river bank on his property. I make a modest profit on every bag sold but I also have the satisfaction of knowing thousands more people are going to be planting wildflowers for the bees. Nearly everyone wants to help the bees.
Helps the problem but doesn’t solve it. I think the big idea here is awareness.

Selling wildflower seeds will help the cause but I think it’s way bigger then that.

Actually think bio is on to something here.
 

ChrisV

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People have no idea how to make their lawn a thriving healthy environment. INSTEAD what they do is pump 2 to 3x more pesticides on their lawn than farmers do to their crops.
This can be an idea. Just sell a watered down pesticide for consumers because obviously they want to go HAM.

While I think this is a good idea in general, I can't say how much it will do for bees. Again for that i'd talk to bee experts to see what's causing the biggest problems. Locating the source of the problem will bee ;) the biggest thing
 

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Primeperiwinkle

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You can buy this entire website and resell. They’re going out of business.

 

ChrisV

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You can buy this entire website and resell. They’re going out of business.

yea that should save exactly 0 bees
 

Primeperiwinkle

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yea that should save exactly 0 bees
He could make a better profit cuz he’s a better business man and then ultimately have more than the 50k to help save them however he wanted.

Der.
 

ChrisV

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He could make a better profit cuz he’s a better business man and then ultimately have more than the 50k to help save them however he wanted.

Der.
you're slackin winkle
 

Primeperiwinkle

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you're slackin winkle
Just FYI Chris, we are not at that level of friendship. There are other ppl on this forum who have gone above and beyond to encourage me and even they don’t try stupid little nickname bs. I feel no camaraderie for you. You can stop now. Seriously dude, I lost all respect for you the day you pointed out my pic and called me cute. Bad form, man, really.

You wanna flirt with women, cool, go do that with other chicks on a platform designed for it, not here. Thanks.
 

ChrisV

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Just FYI Chris, we are not at that level of friendship.
Are you being serious right now? i'm F*cking with you.. relax

okay the jewelry site is a great idea

another one on ignore.
 
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Azure

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View attachment 26524

Are bees actually dying? Or are they only dying in the U.S. and Europe?
Yes, the bee population declines are most drastic in the US and Europe, and many parts of the world are stable or increasing. Though you should be cautious with those estimates, as there are literally no quantifiable recording systems in use almost anywhere. At best, they're educated guesses with a wide margin of error.

However, recent years have seen unprecedented and unexplainable mass colony deaths in China, parts of Africa as well as several countries in South America similar to those seen in US/EU.

It should be noted that not all regions have a similar reliance on bee pollination for their agricultural sectors. Many regions of the world aren't suitable for commercial agricultural, or have crops that aren't attractive to bee taste buds.

The areas with the largest declines also similarly are among the countries with the highest numbers of bee reliant species in terms of crop share %. Declines in these areas have the potential to be devastating, increases - even massive growth explosions- in other areas don't necessarily equate to a polar opposite positive impact on food production in those areas.

Neonicotinoids are the insecticide with the most detrimental impact on bee populations. It impacts bees neurologically, causing spastic movements, sluggishness and a host of other problems like nutrient absorption.

This prevents the bees from forming heat clusters in the winter, which is how they keep the hive warm enough(between 17-37°C) to survive.

This is what causes mass colony deaths, not harsh winters.

Colony losses in the US were stable and consistently between 17-20% annually until the mid 2000s, when the rates jumped to as high as 40%. Coincidentally, the usage of neonics started hitting close to 100% of major US crops at that time.

https://images.theconversation.com/files/224350/original/file-20180622-26567-whya5p.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=1000&fit=clip

Add to that these pesticides have a synergistic relationship with the destructor mite, as the viral infection spread from these mites causes a shutdown of the genes that resist those particular type of chemicals.

They've been used in North America and Europe for longer and at higher usage rates than elsewhere, although the % of honey samples in Asia with trace neonicotinoids has recently caught up to Europe at around 80%, North America is closer to 90%, rest of the world anywhere from 50-70% and growing rapidly.

To sum it up, populations may be stable elsewhere, but it isn't nearly as important to the global food cycle as regions with observed decline and it's only a matter of time before they also begin to decline.

@biophase this may be a tad bit bigger in scope than 50,000 will accommodate but is widely cited as one of the biggest obstacles to helping bee populations worldwide by determining the extent of declines, and being able to determine trends in localized, short term variations.

>No regional, national or international monitoring
programmes exist, however, to document whether insect
pollinator decline is actually occurring. It is therefore
difficult to quantify the status of bee communities or
estimate the extent of any declines (Lebuhn et al, 2013).
Establishment of such programmes is urgently needed,
and would allow tracking of the global status and trends
of pollinator populations, as well as providing an early
warning system for pollinator decline. The cost of such a
system (estimated at $2m US dollars) represents a small
investment compared to the likely potential economic
cost of severe pollinator decline. Such programmes
would “allow for mitigation of pollinator losses and avoid
the financial and nutritional crisis that would result if
there were an unforeseen and rapid collapse of pollinator
communities.” (Lebuhn et al, 2013).


The agricultural department of almost every country worldwide is a potential customer for usage of these systems and data, not to mention the major agricultural firms, just in the California almond industry alone, bee decline has caused their cost of rental to jump by 150 dollars per hive - at roughly 2 million hives rented that's a significant figure for a crop valued at just over 4 billion.

The widespread adaptation of synchronized monitoring systems has the potential to provide irrefutable, concrete evidence of what is causing the declines in these populations, and eliminates the shield of uncertainty that has protected the manufacturers of these chemicals in some of the legal proceedings against them.

Selling pollinator friendly garden sets might make you a few bucks, but in terms of helping bees it's more like palliative care for a cancer patient on their deathbed than a cure for the disease itself.

Realistically, the only pathway to halt widespread declines in global bee stocks are to properly document the extent of the problem, get more eyeballs fixated on the problem by educating the public, and capitalizing on that with well coordinated lobbying of government regulating bodies to ban neonicotinoids.

Anything else is just superficial and won't really create any value for the bees conservation.
 

Azure

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I'm not sure why the link shows as an error message, but if you click through it will still bring you to the cited paper:

Detecting Insect Pollinator Declines on Regional and Global Scales by Gretchen Lebuhn et al 2013.

Touching on the idea of population monitoring, there are several fairly cost effective methods such as mitogenomics:

Conservation genetics of bees: advances in the application of molecular tools to guide bee pollinator conservation

State-of-the-art practices in farmland biodiversity monitoring for North America and Europe

And quite interestingly, using drones:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380013003530?via=ihub



The pollinator rental industry - as necessary and evergreen as it is - seems to be quite fragmented with a lot of small players and is rife with inefficiencies. I've come across a few analyses that seem to suggest that this fragmentation is leading to the mismatches utilization of services.

http://www.thecre.com/oira_pd/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Am-_J-_Agr-_Econ-2012-Rucker-956-771.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Buddhika_Patalee/publication/324225619_Firm_Efficiency_and_Returns-to-Scale_in_the_Honey_Bee_Pollination_Services_Industry/links/5b445c99aca2728a0d68b855/Firm-Efficiency-and-Returns-to-Scale-in-the-Honey-Bee-Pollination-Services-Industry.pdf

Agricultural Policies Exacerbate Honeybee Pollination Service Supply-Demand Mismatches Across Europe
 
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I'd build a business that had nothing to do with bees in a fast growth industry i.e technology like some type of web app.

And whatever profits that new business made would go towards helping beekeepers and the bees however I saw fit.
 

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