Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major

Analytical Economics

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Stephanie Brockmann


In this study the costs associated with the use of commercial pollinators and pesticides were examined in conjunction with the effect that wild pollinators have on the production of various crops in the state of California. Pollination is necessary to produce the majority of crops grown in the United States, as well as pesticide use, these products are not exclusive to each other, and their relationship is analyzed in this study. Three quarters of crops that are grown rely on pollination services, but certain crops are consumed more heavily that do not require pollination leaving about one third of crop production that needs pollination (Aizen, 2019).

The data for this study comes primarily from multiple sources dealing with pesticides, commercial pollination, and crop yield of ten different crops in the state of California in the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. The pesticide use data comes from the state of California’s Pesticide Use Reporting (PUR) database. The commercial pollination data comes from the Cost of Pollination Survey (COPS) administered by the National Agriculture Statistics Service. The crop yield data is from the California Agricultural Service.

This study has three main parts to it, and each crop is analyzed separately at each part. The first is a regression analysis using a log-log model to determine the coefficients of pesticide use and commercial pollinator use. The second part applies the coefficients found in part 1 as input elasticities in a Cobb-Douglas Model that is used to find optimal inputs for a targeted production value. Finally, the third part is another Cobb-Douglas model with a wild pollinator growth simulation included in the pollination services to imitate the effect pesticides have on wild bee populations, as well as how these pollinators can aid farmers in growing their crops.

This ideal scenario study found that wild pollinators can grow to a size comparable to commercial pollinators and reduced the need for them completely over a certain amount of growing seasons. This effect varies for each crop, but the conclusion is relatively similar, the farmer can either reduce the toxicity levels of the pesticides, or the amount being applied to increase the number of wild pollinators in the area and eliminate the need for commercial pollinators. Eliminating this need is not only good for the local environment but can also save the farmer additional costs in the long run.

Available for download on Saturday, May 29, 2027