image from thechronicleherald.ca The environment is not great for honeybees lately. That might not seem to mean anything to many of us, who don't care for insects, or think bees are only about honey. But bees and other "pollinators" have a huge impact on agricultural business operations, on food prices, on wildlife, on nature, and on all business operations relating to the environment. Without pollinators, many crops can't grow, there's less food for wild animals, and eco-systems fail. In case you haven't been following the stories, here is what has been happening with bees lately: From coast to coast, bee colonies have been dying off. Beekeepers are "lucky" if their losses are only at 30-50%. Some of the causes include a "drought in the Midwest, parasitic mites that feed on bee blood, and an unusually cold snap earlier this winter in California." In addition, the trend by some farms to plant more corn (because of the demand for high fructose corn syrup), which doesn't flower, means that bees that used to thrive during part of the year on other flowering crops, no longer have food to maintain and increase their hive size. The shortage of honeybees is a critical problem for almond growers in California. Honeybees are needed to transfer pollen from male almond trees to female trees, or nuts do not form. One grower, Paramount Farms, rents 92,000 bees to pollinate 46,000 acres of almond trees. It has to scramble to get its bees from 15 different states. There are not enough bees, due to the problems with bee colonies, for all of the almond growers in California to fully pollinate all of their trees. California produces 80% of the world's almond crop...and almond demand is growing world-wide. almond orchard from agsi.psu.edu. The trees are in bloom, but are there enough bees? Gordon Wardell, a bee biologist, thinks that the almond industry needs to solve the bee population problem if the industry is to thrive and grow. "It's our responsibility as stewards of the bees to figure out about what's going on and bring them back into balance," he said. Sources: " Honeybee Shortage Could Harm World's Supply of Almonds " (includes slideshow), by Wendy Lee, Take Two , KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, March 13, 2013. " Colony Collapse Disorder " Wikipedia. Follow up: Think of the "stewardship" of the bee colonies as being analogous to gaining "control of the supply chain" for a more industrial business. Can you think of other examples where "stewardship" of a resource is similar to assuring that a production essential is available when the business needs it for production? Check out a related story from the same Take Two program, about changes in the migration habits and populations of monarch butterflies. How do monarch butterflies affect the eco-system, and which businesses might depend on the eco-system that is affected?