“Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high” [The Washington Post]

Maybe you’ve heard that story before: since a decade or so, a lof of bees are dying in the U.S., threatening pollinisation and the whole ecosystem.

But according to this 2015 story (link at the end of this story), the number of bees actually rose since 2016.

Yes, it’s true that around 2006 the death rate of bees have risen. But humans breed bees a lot, and beekeepers compensated that by replacing the dead bees by other ones. Why? Because beekeeping in a job, and the more bees you have, the more revenues you’ll get. Beekeepers have a strong incentive to sustain the number of living bees.

The lesson behind this story is pretty clear to me: if we want to get the actual big picture of how humans affect the environment, we shouldn’t forget positive incentives. Too often we only focus on negative ones, like burning a rain forest to seed crops or extracting shale gas with fracking and polluting underground water. But what if positive incentives were more important than we think?

Read the full story here:


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This story is part of The Social Digest, a publication aimed to understand our social life through science. It is run by Olivier Simard-Casanova, PhD student in economics.