Graph: An economic analysis
Slide 4 of 17
This graph compares profits for 4 scenarios involving two extreme seed
prices and two extreme bee prices. The specific values on the axes are less
important than the general patterns of the curves. The red line gives the
profit from seed alone as bee populations increase. This line has the same
shape as seed yields in the previous slide. The top red line is profit if
seed is worth $1.60/lb ($0.73/kg) and the bottom red line is profit if seed
is worth $1.00/lb ($0.45/kg).
Profit from seed levels off at when the bee populations are large enough to
pollinate flowers as rapidly as they come into bloom. However, the cost of
adding large populations of bees eats into seed profits (purple lines). I
assume that the cost of bees this season can be reduced by the number of
offspring bees from the previous season, which is the same as the expected
number of offspring this season. For each seed price, there are two sets of
net profits. The purple curve with open symbols is for bees costing
$40/gallon, where a gallon equals 10,000 bees, 3,500 of which are females.
The purple curve with closed symbols is for bees costing $90 per
Note that there is a wide range of bee populations at which net profits
(price for seed – cost of bees + savings from last year’s bees) don’t
change much. This is particularly true when bees are inexpensive. The less
one pays for bees, the less it eats into profits. There is little to lose by
hedging one’s bets and putting out more than the optimum number of bees.
If bees are expensive, it may be best to release fewer bees, because they
eat into one’s profits rapidly the more one puts out. Although this
reduces the rate of pollination, net profits may not suffer. The lower the
price of seed, the fewer bees one should introduce into the field as well.
Some growers increase their profits by rapidly pollinating their own fields
and then renting bees to their neighbors for pollination. The income from
bee rentals can significantly supplement the above profits for these lucky