I was under the impression that honey bees did not feed on old fruit fallen from trees yet today I was walking through the woods with my daughter and spotted a yellow jack fighting with another bee so I stomped them unfortunatly the other bee was a honey bee. I looked around and to my surprise there were dozens of honey bees on old pears. I wanted to look for the hive I felt I was close but for my daughters safety I decided to look another day. I also want to note that there is a noticable lack of honey bees in the area around my flowers. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Rotting fruit will have fructose that is fermenting. If the bees have no other source of nectar, I suppose they would work the fruit.
Yes Honey bees will go after anything and everthing sweet! Generaly when a nector fow is on they will only go after the flowers. During the late summer and fall of the year when the nector slowes and the fruit starts falling off the trees it is a good source of sugar/sweets.
One point I'd like to make is the honey bees can't open the "skins" of the fruits. The damage that you see on the fruits are done by the fruits falling from the tree or where the fruit has been opened by another bee (like the yellow jacket).
If you are intrested in find the hive have a go with the search link and I'm sure you will find plenty of info about finding feral hives.
Here in the U.S. the mites have given the feral hives a big problem. Feral hives are on the comeback, but are not back to the numbers that they were. This might be the same in Germany, and would be why you dan't see as many honey bee as you once did.
They can't break the fruit open, but they certainly will suck up any juice that is available if there is no nectar. My rotten pears are covered with bees.