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With approximately 1,600 commercial beekeepers currently in operation in the United States and one-third of our food supply dependent on honeybees for pollination, it might seem logical to assume that there will be increasing demand for the services of beekeepers in the future. But foreign competition and an increase in bee diseases are strongly affecting employment opportunities for beekeepers. Foreign pollination service companies are now competing with U.S.-based companies for business at U.S. farms. And although honey prices have recently hit record highs, it is still difficult for U.S. beekeepers to compete with foreign imports in terms of price. Foreign honey producers have fewer environmental regulations to abide by, lower wage rates to pay, and fewer worker benefits to provide. Thus, they are able to charge less for their product. Additionally, Colony Collapse Disorder, which is characterized by sudden colony death, has decimated honey bee colonies across the United States. Although demand for commercial pollination services has risen in recent years (especially in California as a result of the increase in almond growing), beekeepers are finding it harder to raise and care for healthy bees to provide these services.
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