I recorded a TV program some weeks ago called 'The last of the Honeybees' and watched it yesterday. It was about bee keeping in the US and colony collapse disorder. I do not know anything about beekeeping in the US (or the UK for that matter), but I found some of the information in the program quite staggering and thought I might share it with you.
I always assumed that beekeeping was a matter of having a few hives in a flowery field somewhere and collecting the honey, but this program was about businesses having thousands of hives, and making money from pollination contracts. This involves transporting thousands of hives thousands of miles. Some hives do up to 8000 miles a year, and can be on the road for 4 days on some journeys. Colony collapse disorder has a serious impact on these businesses. The program made clear that colony collapse disorder is not really understood, but suggested that the stress suffered by the bees in transportation and being subject to different disease and pesticide factors in different parts of the country could well have something to do with it.
I must admit I was quite staggered to discover that this sort of thing was going on. The program did not really explain how or why this situation has arisen. Why, for example, do bees have to be transported to California to pollinate the almond trees? Doesn't California have its own bees?
I just keep a couple of hives to pollinate my fruit and I've had bees decline suddenly, without any obvious signs of disease, and they didn't die in the hive. So have nearby beekeepers with a lot more experience.
To start, I think certain types of systemic insecticides used on flowering crops need to be taken off the market.
But , to answer your question, industrial farms are factories which convert petroleum into the raw material for processed food products. In general, they are not sustainable systems where bees or anything else natural would thrive. I think the plan is to engineer fruits which do not require this type of pollination.
California definitely has its own bees, but the Almond growers need a ton of hives, placed squarely in their orchard, during the blooming season. Through trial and error, they have determined that the crop benefits substantially (by multiples, not fractions) through utilizing the honey bee.
Honey Bees are notorious for being able to focus on one type of bloom during a given period. Place some hives in the middle of an orchard of blooming trees and you will have hives doing nothing but collecting nectar and pollen from that tree until its bloom wanes.
FreddiD thank for the link it a great but scary article. It a shame on how people miss use of product and how they don't realize the damage it is cousin to the environment. I wouldn't say they just don't care but I believe it more of lack of education, and the fact that the manufacture of such product alway may the warning label print so small and use large complicated word. The afraid if you understand them you wouldn't buy. It all about the profit.