IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Fable Of The Bees Revisited: Causes And Consequences Of The U.S. Honey Program


  • Muth, Mary K.
  • Rucker, Randal R.
  • Thurman, Walter N.
  • Chuang, Ching-Ta


In his 1973 paper, Steven Cheung discredited the "fable of the bees" by demonstrating that markets for beekeeping services exist and that they function well. Although economists heeded Cheung's lessons, policy makers did not. The honey program-the stated purpose of which was to promote the availability of pollination servicesoperated for almost 50 years, supporting the price of honey through a variety of mechanisms. Its effects were minor before the 1980s but then became important with annual government expenditures near $100 million for several years. Reforms of the program in the late 1980s reduced its market effects and budget costs, returning it to its original role as a minor commodity program. The 1996 Farm Bill formally eliminated the honey program, which redirected lobbying efforts toward enacting trade restrictions and obtaining annual relief through the appropriations process. We measure the historical welfare effects of the program during its various incarnations, examine its frequently stated public interest rationalethe encouragement of honeybee pollination, and interpret its history in light of economic theories of regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Muth, Mary K. & Rucker, Randal R. & Thurman, Walter N. & Chuang, Ching-Ta, 2001. "The Fable Of The Bees Revisited: Causes And Consequences Of The U.S. Honey Program," Reports 29153, North Carolina State University, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ncsure:29153

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Orden, David & Paarlberg, Robert & Roe, Terry, 1999. "Policy Reform in American Agriculture," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226632643, March.
    2. Rucker, Randal R & Thurman, Walter N, 1990. "The Economic Effects of Supply Controls: The Simple Analytics of the U.S. Peanut Program," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 483-515, October.
    3. Alan L. Olmstead & Donald B. Wooten, 1987. "Bee Pollination and Productivity Growth: The Case of Alfalfa," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 69(1), pages 56-63.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Rucker, Randal R. & Thurman, Walter N. & Burgett, Michael, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis Of Honeybee Pollination Markets," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20547, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

    More about this item


    Agricultural and Food Policy;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:ncsure:29153. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.