Thanks for the advice! I appreciate it.
Thanks for the advice! I appreciate it.
This is fascinating. Maybe more people will keep bumblebees, now that they're getting some attention in the media. I wonder about the bee diseases bumblebees are facing. I wonder if some of the things we do to boost the immunity of our honey bees would help the bumble bees.
Someone forwarded me this link, and now I'm very curious about the severity of bumble bee diseases. I'd already heard that several species were endangered or extinct. http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Oli...F20&id=Ar00205
Yeah, the bumbles are getting a little more time in the spotlight now. They do have a disease that has been imported called nosema bombi. I believe it can be treated just like honey bee nosema. I believe the best way to treat bumbles is by feeding them fumagillan when they are making queens. The reason being, is that the nosema overwinters in the queens. Some of the other basic treatments would work as well, but most are unnecessary. The flip-side of this, is we don't want to make them too dependent on people, since they are still wild. Also, a lot of the treatments would also kill some symbiotic nest helps (such as mites that eat feces or small beetles that eat fungus and mold).
The bumble bee die offs aren't as mysterious as the honey bees. Pesticides were a big issue this year, when a company poisoned linden trees to kill aphids. Another problem is the imported nosema disease (thought to be a major reason in decline). One of the threats is commercial bumble bee colonies that are used in greenhouses. A recent study tested I believe 40 greenhouse bumble bee colonies and 38 of them tested positive for diseases such as the deadly nosema. So ironically, people who are aware of the benefits of bumble bee pollination are also spreading the diseases that are wiping them out. (The bumbles in the greenhouses and get out the vents and transmit diseases to outside flowers).
Nosema bombi came from commercial raised bumble bees in Europe. USA shipped some of our bumble bees over there to be reared in their labs. While in the labs, they contracted nosema bombi from their European cousins and they were shipped back, diseases and all. Bombus impatiens was the carrier (the one used most widely out east in pollination). We have an Indians smallpox situation.
I read through this study that was conducted on Neonicotinoids and published last summer: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/10/18/1314923110
There's some interesting language that gives indirect reference that neonicotinoids appear to be hurting the gut health of flies and bees. Have you tried any of the gut-immunity boosters out there? (Just curious)
Also, what are your top 3 favorite bumblebee-keeping websites?
I've always liked those big bumble bees. I would love to have hives for them. I never thought of that! When my daughter's were young we discovered the ones in our area prefer purple flowers and while they were busy collecting pollen and nectar we would pet them. It wasn't until later we learned to recognize the smaller males with no stingers. In addition to these bees, I'm fond of the European Paper Wasp. These look very similar to their more aggressive cousins the yellow jacket but very distinct once you know what to look for. The European Paper Wasp make those half moon, open comb hives you see hanging from beams or attached to a wall. I've had a nest at head heights by my back door for the last three years. Never been stung despite getting my face about 18" away. When I get much closer, they begin to posture differently and I've never had the nerve to press my luck. Very interesting to watch.
I haven't tried any gut immunity boosters. I'm curious as to what you mean, what are some examples of gut immunity boosters? Some bumble bee websites that are good are:
The best way to find bumble bee information is to google stuff like bombus nests, bumble bee nest sites, bumble bee conservation and the list goes on...
Yes, the male bumble bees are fun, its funny how they raise their middle legs sometimes as a threat pose. Most people think its a bumble bee high five haha! I have a friend who rears paper wasps. They are a lot different from the usual wasps people run into. I have relocated a few of those nests from mail boxes (they seem to have a knack for plastic things and overhangs). I'm more biased to our native species Polistes fuscatus. My friend has even hand tamed them.
Do you have any concerns that bringing in honeybees will introduce pests, parasites, and diseases to your bumblebees?