If you were asked where the majority of America's honeybees are on any given summer day, your first guess probably wouldn't be that they're zooming along the country's highways. But as No Such Thing As a Fish, the random-fact-loving British comedy podcast, pointed out in its most recent episode, bees’ central role in American agriculture has turned many beekeepers nomadic.
"Most bees in the U.S.A. are driven around and rented out so that they can pollinate plants."
“Most honeybee hives in the U.S.A. live on trucks, on flatbed trucks,” said Andrew Hunter Murray, one of the show's hosts. “Most bees in the U.S.A. are driven around and rented out so that they can pollinate plants.”
The podcast goes on to riff on bee lifespans and brain chemistry, but this topic of the country's growing migratory bee workforce is worth dwelling on. In our upcoming January/February issue, writer Josh Dzieza does just that. In his beautifully written story, “Bees, Inc.,” he examines the paradoxical problems of America’s gradual shift in beekeeping, from small-scale businesses dedicated mostly to honey production to large-scale pollination enterprises. “‘The ecologist Ruth DeFries calls the last half-century of agricultural industrialization ‘the Big Ratchet,’” Dzieza writes, “It is the latest and most extreme example of a cycle of technological innovation that has allowed humanity to thrive in the face of constant ecological crises.” Look for the story in our print issue, on newsstands—or on this site—at the beginning of January. —Paul Bisceglio