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  1. #1
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    Hi

    I have been thinking! Just what do beekeepers think natural beekeeping is?

    What do beekeepers think todays domestic beekeeping is?

    Just what really is a feral bee colony?

    How do all three relate to each other and what are the differences of each to the other?

    We all talk about our hive products and how they are "pure and natural" to eat and use, and about our management, and our equipment used. Do these different classifications need to have different work methods,( without talking about todays's various treatments for mites/disease ) or can they all be handled the same way once in a box?

    Dee A. Lusby

  2. #2
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    Hello Dee -

    I've been thinking about your questions since you posted them. I thought if I waited long enough you would answer them but such is not the case.

    No two people will probably agree on a definition of "natural" beekeeping. If you look up the word, natural, we get several meanings:

    1. Present in or produced by nature.
    2. Of, relating to, or concerning nature.
    3. Conforming to the usual or ordinary course of nature.
    4.a. Not acquired; inherent. b. Having a particular character by nature. c. Biology. Not produced or changed artificially; not conditioned.
    5. Characterized by spontaneity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or inhibitions.
    6. Not altered, treated, or disguised.

    As it relates to beekeeping, I find #4c to be most relative. Just where should we draw the line between natural and domestic beekeeping?

    I can tell you that with some of my hives I've quit using all chemicals and drugs. I also do not favor the practice of taking so much honey from a hive that the feeding back of sugar is required for the bees to survive till the next honey flow. This has never made much sense to me. Others will say taking the honey is more valuable and sugar is cheaper but I say one should learn moderation and not try to squeeze every ounce of honey out of a hive. Let the bees have honey for feed, not sugar syrup.

    Some will say keeping bees in a standard hive that uses frames with foundation is not natural. I believe this is an extreme viewpoint and without merit.

    I favor different classifications for honey and management so that those who go the extra mile to insure a product is as natural as possible can receive a higher return for their efforts. I don't think the general public has a clue to the variables that can affect the finished product they buy, called honey.

    Sorry, I think I'm rambling. It's getting late. Just some ideas I throw out for discussion.

    Regards,

    -Barry

  3. #3
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    Hi, Barry. "Let the bees have honey for feed, not sugar syrup." Bees do not feed on sugar syrup. They feed on honey, some of which is made from nectar, some of which is made from sugar syrup. I doubt that they know the difference, or care.

  4. #4
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dan Hendricks:
    Hi, Barry. "Let the bees have honey for feed, not sugar syrup." Bees do not feed on sugar syrup. They feed on honey, some of which is made from nectar, some of which is made from sugar syrup. I doubt that they know the difference, or care.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hi Dan -

    Perhaps I'm guilty of generalizing too much. In general, I do believe you are right that bees feed on honey and I failed to make that clear in my post. The point I was making was not so much this issue but questioning the act of supplemental feeding as a matter of routine.

    You do raise an intriguing issue though when you say, "I doubt that they know the difference, or care." Is it so off base to think that there really is a substantial difference between a syrup made with simple sugar, and nectar, which is not a simple sugar? Surely there is a difference and surely the bees know it. Can you expand some more on your thought about this?

    Is it ever possible that bees will take sugar syrup or nectar into a hive and will use this substance without first converting it to honey?

    Regards,

    Barry

  5. #5
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    Question

    I fear this is a discussion which will keep us going through the winter. Natural is a subjective term, in fact these days natural is redefined daily. Personally I'm against chemicals in management. Partly because they cannot be made by me, mostly because they're an expensive unsustainable use of world resources. Quite aside from the potential hazards to our bodies. White refined sugar is a chemical. I am told by excellent beekeepers and scientists that it makes excellent bee food, and believe bees are found on sugar cane when it is cut (yet all literature I've read warns against feeding bees any sugar other than refined.) There's no easy answer for me, because overall I wish to care for my bees, whilst extracting a living from their efforts for myself. Letting a colony burn instead of treating with antibiotics is a bridge I don't look forward to crossing. Meantime I'll try every rational method of non-chemical management I can find.

    John

  6. #6
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    Wink

    In an article published in October 1995 in the Journal of Economic Entomology by N.M. Schiff and W.S. Sheppard titled "Genetic Analysis of commercial Honey Bees from the Southeastern United States, we have learned "The lack of A.m. mellifera haplotypes in the commercial population is indicative of restricted gene flow between feral and commmercial populations."

    Also stated in the paper is "Significant genetic differences between commercial and feral populations suggest that the feral populations may represent a novel source of genetic variation for breeding programs."

    Since most beekeepers believe that feral and domestic bees are interchangeable, especially those ketching swarms, how can the bees breeders use be so different? Also what impact is this having on our so-called domestic colonies?

    Again the question must be asked - What is true feral and what is now considered true domestic and where do the two come together?

    A bigger question is which is best to survive todays's problems of mites and secondary diseases?

    Comments!!!! Discussion..How can this scientific paper be true and is it the same in the UK and Europe since the same practices are often in place?

    Dee A. Lusby

  7. #7
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    Well, I'm only a hobbyist beekeeper, but, I would like to add my 2 cents worth. Here's a question that I thought of while reading all the postings in this topic... Wouldn't the difference between "feral" and "domestic" simply be the fact that feral colonies are living on their own (perhaps a swarm cast in the spring) in an uninterrupted setting, while domestic bees would be colonies living in hives which are maintained by a beekeeper? I personally picture the definition of "domesticated" in the rest of the animal kingdom.

    As far as this question goes:

    A bigger question is which is best to survive todays's problems of mites and secondary diseases?

    I think that the "feral" colonies would be the only ones to compete with genetically engineered bees. While science has been making huge leaps in developing honeybees which will be more resistant to mites and diseases, the feral bees would also have to be resistant or develop resistance to these problems or nature would selectively diminish their numbers (i.e. "survival of the fittest"). Domestic bees would be able to survive while the beekeeper takes the time to care for them. Without the beekeeper, I see the numbers and sizes of domestic colonies tapering off unless they can also adapt to their environment, both good and bad.

    Well, that's my 2 cents for now,
    Good Luck,
    Paul


  8. #8
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    Well, Paul B. on 10-24-00, 6:58pm has certainly posted some interesting and very good comments.

    Paul writes: "Wouldn't the difference between "feral" and "domestic" simply be the fact that feral colonies are living on their own (perhaps a swarm cast in the spring) in an uninterrupted setting, while domestic bees would be colonies living in hives which are maintained by a beekeeper?


    This is an excellent assumption, but as many beekeepers know, swarms ensue from many domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control.

    Are they then more like the feral bees in the wild or more like the other domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control?


    Paul also excellentlly added:

    "A bigger question is which is best to survive todays's problems of mites and secondary diseases?"

    Boy, one could sure talk on this. Domestic colonies kept by man since the turn of this century have certainly progressed worse as far as secondary diseases and mites are concerned.

    Yet, in the wild with true feral is this actually the case? It is said that apis cerana lives in peaceful co-existance with mites as pertains to varroa and probably has done so for millions of years. Also, several diseases of bees are known to only exist within domesticed colonies and not true feral.Why? It would seem feral bees would definitely have the edge for survival!

    Paul then writes...

    "I think that the "feral" colonies would be the only ones to compete with genetically engineered bees."


    I myself think a question should be asked here: namely,- Why would genetically engineered bees be any different and better then bees now bred for by our government, that seem lacking to many, for many attributes necessary for survival and production that denote successful beekeeping operations in a health conscious world?

    Paul then writes..

    "While science has been making huge leaps in developing honeybees which will be more resistant to mites and diseases, the feral bees would also have to be resistant or develop resistance to these problems or nature would selectively diminish their numbers (i.e. "survival of the fittest"). Domestic bees would be able to survive while the beekeeper takes the time to care for them. Without the beekeeper, I see the numbers and sizes of domestic colonies tapering off unless they can also adapt to their environment, both good and bad."

    Here Paul starts to break out the differences between true feral and domestic, so to many there must be differences. He says domestic bees would only be able to survive while the beekeeper takes the time to care for them.

    Further that without beekeeper help he can see colony numbers and size,which I assume to be volume here, decreasing unless the bees themselves can adapt, meaning to true feral.

    Then when Paul first write above that feral colonies are colonies living on their own while domestic colonies are colonies living in hives maintained by man, THERE REALLY IS A DISTINCT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO TYPES and even Paul can see that hives maintained by man to survive are different and must adapt for survival in our world today.

    But again, what are the differences and how did they get that way? How do we put the bees back together for survival or are they doomed to seperate lives now in todays world?

    Just what is feral and what is domestic?

    Paul has given us a good start. Domestic bees it seems today, can no longer live on their own in a real world. And yet feral bees must survive so we have bees to draw from as beekeepers as a clean renewable resource.

    But what are the differences and how do we use them for our bees survival? How do we get our domestic bees to adapt so they can survive?

    Questions....questions....NEED MORE IMPUT..Let's think guys...


    Comments please..........


    Dee A. Lusby


  9. #9
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    Hi again, if you don't mind, I'd like to add another comment or two and ask another question in order to further add to this great discussion. First, I asked if the difference between feral and domestic colonies is the interaction of humans. Dee posted a comment that helped open my eyes... it is: "This is an excellent assumption, but as many beekeepers know, swarms ensue from many domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control.
    Are they then more like the feral bees in the wild or more like the other domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control?" This is a great question. I think about the 2 bunnies that my daughters own. They are truly domesticated, being born and raised in complete captivity. These animals still have many "natural instincts" which guide their actions, but, more importantly, they have become so dependent upon humans to care for them that they would have a slim chance of survival if allowed to roam free. While I don't think that this is the case for honeybees, I do think that human added medications and custom built hive boxes probably does have an effect on how domestic bees survive. Fortunately, the nature of beekeeping still requires that the bees have enough autonomy that they can keep their instincts intact enough for them to survive on their own after swarming. I wonder if there isn't a small change that occurs to the swarm over time which would allows them to convert from the less resistive domestic hive to the more resistive feral hive.

    Can anyone help me understand this better??

    If I remember correctly, I read a book which explained that the Native American Indians were curious about the "White man's" flys, which explains to me that all our current feral colonies were in fact somebodies domestic hive at one time. Apparently, they made the conversion.

    Dee also made this excellent observation: "I myself think a question should be asked here: namely,- Why would genetically engineered bees be any different and better then bees now bred for by our government, that seem lacking to many, for many attributes necessary for survival and production that denote successful beekeeping operations in a health conscious world?"

    Here is a question that I need to understand better... I have been told that many of the breeds of bees that we buy on the market today have been bred to be more gentle to work while still retaining their aggressive productivity. So, aren't we already quite a distance down the road of breeding/genetic engineering to raise hybrids, AND aren't all the current domestic and recently turned feral colonies also derived from these hybrids??

    Please advise...

    This is a great discussion, so everybody, join in!!!

    See Ya,
    Paul


  10. #10
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    Okay, a couple more questions.

    Dee, you write:
    "This is an excellent assumption, but as many beekeepers know, swarms ensue from many domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control.

    Are they then more like the feral bees in the wild or more like the other domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control?"

    Just how many "real" feral bee hives are there in the U.S.? I have to think it is a very, very small number. Since feral means:

    1.a. Existing in a wild or untamed state. b. Having returned to an untamed state from domestication.

    I feel a hive of bees would have to have been on their own for quite a few years before they could be called feral. I would assume the majority of hives that are found outside a domestic beehive are bees that originated from one. One has to take into account that the queen is more than likely one that a breeder raised and how many generations would it take for the genes to balance back, with natural mating, to a "natural/feral" bee?

    So I think "they" are more like domestic honeybees because most of them are. The word feral gets misused a lot and I think people think just because a bunch of bees are somewhere other than a beekeepers hive, they are in their "natural" state and they are "wild" bees. It seems this understanding first has to be addressed before one can discuss much further.

    -Barry

  11. #11
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    Hi to Paul B. and others reading this discussion.....

    This is in reply to Paul's comments posted on 10-25-2000 12:10AM

    Paul had asked if the difference between feral and domestic colonies is the interaction of humans, meaning: Are they then more like the feral bees in the wild or more like the other domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control?

    While Paul didn't think that this was the case for honeybees, he did think that human added medications and custom built hive boxes probably does have an effect on how domestic bees survive and wondered further, if there isn't a small change that occures to the swarm over time, which would allow them to convert from the less resistive dometice hive, to the more resistive feral hive.

    Paul B. then wanted to know if anyone could help him understand this better?


    REPLY TO PAUL B.

    Yes indeed Paul, the difference between feral and doemestic colonies is the interaction of man. While in many areas of our world today feral bees in the wild are still unchanged, these areas are diminishing, because of civilization and encroachment by man.

    Truly domesticated honeybees,like the bunnies you mentioned, your daughters own, cannot survive any longer in the wild after having been born and raised in complete captivity by man.

    This is a sad, sad state to be in with our honeybees under man's control. It has even been documented, this great difference now that has occurred, by Doctors Nathan M. Schiff and Walter S. Sheppard in a paper published in October 1995 in the Journal of Economic Entomology, Titled "Genetic Analysis of Commercial Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) from the Southeastern United States.

    In this paper it was suggested by them, that significant genetic differences now found between commercial and feral populations of honeybees, suggest that the feral populations may NOW represent a novel source of genetic variation for breeding programs.

    How Sad to think that our domesticated honeybees have gotten so man controlled with insemination and inbreeding, not naturally happening in Nature, that we now need Nature's help with fresh supplies of genetic material to help solve today's problems.

    Yet, Paul, if bees were brought here to the Americas by man, then todays domesticated bees and feral bees should still all be the same for breeding back and forth. Sad they are no longer.

    But this is not the whole problem either, this overused insemination and inbreeding of our domesticated honeybees.....

    Something else far worse has happened to our industry worldwide. In the search for a much better productive honeybee (along with better plants and all farm animals) we have opened Pandora's Box of parasitic mites and diseases by enlarging the size of our honeybees, making their bodies over 20-30% larger. This was done to let larger wings with which to fly and longer tongues with which to suck nectar from plants for better pollenation and honey yields.

    But all it has done is make our bees slower and less competitive in today's world, and then we even compounded the problem by inbreeding and artificial insemination, over using the practices so much, that finally our domestic commercial honeybee populations have now seperated themselves from from true feral. Sad


    If you want to read about some of this sizing history you can do so at http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby and read through chapters 4-7 thereabouts.

    Now to actually see this in your bees, especially if you have caught swarms and/or purchased bees that have been interacting also with swarm infusions, light up a smoker and get something to sit on, and then go through your bees and look at them closely.

    Differences to look for basically to begin with are SIZE....

    Many colonies you will find today are a combination of feral and domestic honeybees. They are also a combination of yellow coloured and black colour, or colour mixtures of both.

    You will also see in your colonies, if you look closely, that you will have some small worker bees and some large worker bees and even worker bees inbetween in several sizes, besides this colour variation. This is not normal in Nature for true feral honeybees.

    Look closely at your honeybees as to physical characteristics as to colour and sizing variation and then tell me what you have found and we will discuss further.

    Paul, you have very good comments, so I know you will have very good perception in looking at your bees also, in trying to find answers to your questions.

    I look forward to hearing from you again and I hope I am being of some help to your understanding.

    Please let me know if I am not and I will try other words to try to get my thoughts across to you...

    Dee A. Lusby

  12. #12
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    To all of you !
    A heck of a lot of ground was covered and may be another 5 cents brings up some more thoughts.
    According to history ( As far as one can depend on hearsay)Bees have been handled by man in one container or another since 5000 years.
    I do not profess to be any smarter than those folks at that time and since they apparently had the benefit of honey, they must have been at least as knowledgable as we today, bare of the nittygrit of viral infection causes.
    Bees which absconded or swarmed build another hive in any location they see fit to house themselves.
    They are then NOT under the care of the beekeeper and the law of the fittest survive comes into effect, regardles of whether "man bred" or not.
    The "European Honey bee" was alledgedly introduced by invading hordes of populace of Europe into this continent.
    With it came the notion of propagation under all circumstances resulting into the food and space crisis of today and therefore the endavour to foster the research and development of altering genetics of so called "natural" selection and it's possible ,not thought of, consequences.
    Obviously we are getting here into not only a philosophical debate but also a econmic/ political one.
    The feature of agricultural managements and applications of maximum yields, the pollinator is forced to abide by demand to make a living, thus using anything available to maintain his or her flock. There is no way to alter that now. Unless we turn the clock back and stop propagating the species as it is done . ( Politically very incorrect !!!!)
    Some of you favour what one thinks as the "natural" way of genetic development and the other the man dominated thought of "management".
    Personally I am strictly opposed to anything smelling of medicines.( And feeding Sugarsyrup under all circumstances as a routine)
    The bottomline here is one of economics and one is forced to compromise , like it or not.
    The discussion is the difference of "Feral" versus "Domesticated".
    One could also use the term "Manipulated " . Since we have been "Breeding " to what we think as desirable , it appears that the original and imported bee ( Which by the way was already
    "Domesticated"; remember the 5000 years)is nonexistent. Of course in modern times we became much smarter and added more domestication and genetic undesirable traits.
    I doubt whether we can now identify whether or not this or that swarm living in trees and the like is "Feral " or one of "Ours".
    At least not the Beekeeper such as I.
    BUT There are some in the wilderness which did survive AND maintained their viability.
    If I am not mistaken has DR Sheppard identified one as such.And- traces of this line I have within my colonies thanks to the man trying to keep this line going.
    We are always on the lookout to find more "Feral" colonies to augment the genetics.
    Barry has well observed . There is a multitude of different colorations and sizes in ONE colony even if the dominance is "black" or "Yellow".Drifting alone accounts for differences in one colony .The random drone pool adds to this
    uncontrolled dillemma.
    I lost at least 2 very large swarms this year due to NOT requeening when it was the time. I wonder where they went and what happend to them now. Will they survive ? I hope so . And I also hope their offspring will come back ( Fat chance of wishful thinking).
    Even if it hurts: I submit to the law of nature: Survival of the fittest. But still I try to help them out because I love those critters.
    Happy beeing
    JDF

  13. #13
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    Hi All.

    I'm responding to Dee's comments about multicoloured bees. I started beekeeping this year. with a nuc which were described as 'local mongrels'; I was really surprised to find bees of different colours hatching out; a few are indeed smaller. Other coloies I have seen have been similar, and it is clear that if you don't make a conscious effort to maintain a particular race or strain of bee, this is what you get. This points to serious instability here in the genepool.

    This is clearly a thoroughly unnatural situation, and hence the bees here in the UK can no longer be described as 'natural', even if they are living in a wild state. I assume feral bees to be rare or nonexistent around Birmingham, where I live, as my observation has been that bees are only found in the vicinity of beekeepers; for instance, there are almost none a quarter of a mile from my own hive.

    This goes back to the importation of Italian queens, which began on a serious scale in the last half of the 19th Century; this importation accelerated after the arrival of tracheal mite around 1920, when the native British black bee (A. m. mellifera) was wrongly assumed to be extremely susceptible. So most of our bees are hybrids. The conditions here are obviously different in significant respects to those of Northern Italy; the climate is colder and wetter, and the result has been selection pressure in the direction of native characteristics. Add the continued importation of queens, and you see the reason for this unstable genepool.

    One positive development; in 1920, our bees were highly susceptible to TM, and possibly half the colonies here died (reports that 95% had died were grossly exaggerated. Contrary to reports, Italians were hit as hard or harder than native bees) TM is not normally a serious disease these days, and before the arrival of varroa, perhaps 75% of the colonies here were feral. In the absence of any deliberate programme for breeding resistant bees, they have acquired resistance NATURALLY. I have no information on the time this took.

    From what information I have available, the original bee used in the US was a black bee similar to the German heath bee. Most people these days, I understand, use Italians. Our northern bees will fly to mate in significantly worse weather than Italians, which is, I believe, one of the factors leading to a tendency for bees to 'drift' towards a black type over here. If you have a difference between your domestic and your feral bees, is it because mating flights occur under slightly different circumstances, or because of the sort of selection pressures I have outlined. Is the difference consistent across the whole of the US? What was the climate in the area where the research was done? I feel there are so many different things going on that a great deal more research on bee genetics and ecology will be needed. Meanwhile, if bees can develop resistance to TM on their own, why not varroa?

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com


  14. #14
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    Dee -

    You wrote:

    "Many colonies you will find today are a combination of feral and domestic honeybees. They are also a combination of yellow coloured and black colour, or colour mixtures of both.

    You will also see in your colonies, if you look closely, that you will have some small worker bees and some large worker bees and even worker bees inbetween in several sizes, besides this colour variation. This is not normal in Nature for true feral honeybees."

    I still need to get this issue clarified. Are you using the term "feral" to mean any bee that is not living in a beekeepers hive? I honestly doubt there are any colonies that survive on their own in the wild for more than 1 or 2 years around here. I'm sure there are places in the world where wild bees still exist on their own year after year but surely this is not the norm? If this is the case, what kind of influence are my bees really getting? Aren't the getting the influence from my neighbors bees or the swarm of bees that left one of my hives last year? Can we expect a swarm to make it on their own with varroa around.

    I know this will bring up the issue of bee size too. It also takes several generations for the bees to size down when left on their own. First the bees have to be able to live that long (several years) and with varroa, I imagine the percentage of survivors drop way down.

    Comments? or should I even ask ... :&gt; )

    -Barry

  15. #15
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    This reply is in regard to Barry's post of 10-25-2000 at 01:13AM

    Again some very interesting statements and questions have been posed for discussion for all reading to ponder and reply about.

    Barry writes concerning swarms ensuing from the many domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control and asks:

    "Are they then more like the feral bees in the wild or more like the other domestic honeybees colonies living under man's control?" Barry further writes: "Just how many "real" feral bee hives are there in the U.S? I have to think it is a very, very small number."

    Reply:

    This is a leading question and I am sure depending upon the region of the United States a beekeepers lives in various answers. It is also a leading question because the swarms ensuing out of domestic colonies would vary by the race/strain of bees kept by the beekeeper, which could be different from the local area population of true feral honeybees. Added further, is the fact that depending upon the comb foundation size used by the beekeeper in his supers, the bees can be dramatically different, by being artificially larger than that found in Nature.

    So to answer Barry's question, I would have to say that swarms ensuing out of domestic colonies in today's world, probably are more like the other domestic honeybee colonies living under man's control; and due to outmating, unless the beekeeper is purchasing mated queens of a homogenious uniform size from a bee breeder using artificial insemination, the bees would contain a mixture of sizes within the various subcastes within the colonies, ranging from true feral sizing to the largest domestic size relative to oversized foundation usage the bees were placed upon.

    This situation would then dictate size reduction necessary for the swarming honeybees in question to obtain eventual true feral sizing parameters in an outmating scenario.

    Now just how many "real" feral bee hives are there in the U.S.? I would say depending upon the area it could range from very high to only a few to maybe non-existant. I say this because in densely built areas, swarms might be few for real feral bees; and in areas where beekeepers keep thousands of domesticated colonies, thus enforcing a strong breeding pressure for domestic only.

    Now on the other hand in very rural areas and in our mountainous states, I would imagine it would be safe to say there are still considerable numbers of true feral swarms. This could also be true for swarms living in trees in our wet coastal plains throughout our Gulf Port Southern States.

    Barry then later wrote another statement that got me to thinking, which too, is under varing opinions. Barry wrote: "I would assume the majority of hives that are found outside a domestic beehive are bees that originated from one."

    Reply:

    I myself would agree here, honeybees being social insects and I believe like seems to be with like, especially in the apiaries we ourselve keep. However, on page 865 of the November 2000 issue of the American Bee Journal, Mr Jerry Hayes writes a reply that states “ For biological, inbreeding reasons most swarms try to get as far away from the parent colony as possible.” Consequently, there is differing opinion on this!

    Perhaps some other beekeepers reading this discussion can tell us their perspective of the above thoughts here!

    Comments anyone, as the discussion continues.


    Dee A. Lusby

  16. #16
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    Cool

    On 10-28-2000 at 09:59 PM Juandefuca joined the debate here after seeing that a heck of a lot of ground was covered and wanted to add another 5 cents to bring up some more thoughts.

    Well expanded the debate he certainly has now:

    Juandefuca wrote:

    The "European Honey Bee" was allegedly introduced by invading hordes of populace of Europe into this continent.

    with it came the notion of propagation under all circumstances resulting into the food and space crisis of today and therefore the endavour to foster the research and development of altering genetics of so called "natural" selection and it's possible, not thought of, consequences.

    There is no way to alter that now. Unless we turn the clock back and stop propagating the species as it is done. (Politically very incorrect!!!)

    The bottomline here is one of economics and one is forced to compromise, like it or not.

    Reply:

    No I do not think one is forced to compromise for in the end with today's mounting problems, all will eventually end up having to do what works or have dead bees, whether cost effective or not. Survival will dictate in the end.

    Juandefuca then goes on to expand the debate even further on a subject that has been debated for years by writing:

    The discussion is the difference of "Feral" versus "Domesticated". One could also use the term "Manipulated". Since we have been "breeding" to what we think as desirable, it appears that the original and imported bee (which by the way was already "Domesticated"...


    Juandefuca then further writes:

    I doubt whether we can now identify whether or not this or that swarm living in trees and the like is "feral" or one of "Ours".

    Reply:

    Now here we have finally opened the door to discussion of not only retrogressing our honeybees back to a natural true feral bee relative to the local area, of the region they are living in, but also now broadened the discussion as to whether or not the imported bee should be considered the orginal bee of the American continents.

    Since some older beekeepers still believe that there are still remnants of true NATIVE bees to be found on the American Continents, I myself being one, I now submit the following for adding to the discussion on Natural/Feral/Domestic Beekeeping and what the relationships are one to the other.

    EXCERPT FROM THE HISTORY OF MEXICO by Abbe D. Francesco Saverio Clavigero (1731-1787)

    Translated from original Italian in 1806 by Chas Cullen, Esq.

    Excerpt from Book 1, of Valume 1.

    There are at least six different kinds of bees. The first is the same as the common bee of Europe, with which it agrees, not only in size, shape and color, but also in its disposition and manners, and in the qualities of its honey and wax.

    The second species, which differs from the first only in having no sting, is the bee of Yucatan and Chiapa, which makes the fine, clear honey of ESTABENTUN, of an aromatic flavor, superior to that of all other kinds of honey with which we are acquainted.The honey is taken from them six times a year, that is once in every other month; but the best is that which is got in November, being made from a white flower like Jessamine, which blooms in September, called in that country ESTABENTUN,from which the honey has derived its name. The honey of Estabentun is in high estimation with the English and French, who touch at the ports of Yucatan; and I have known the French of Guarico to buy it sometimes for the purpose of sending it as a present to the king.

    The third species resembles in its form, the winged ants, but is smaller than the common bee, and without a sting. This insect, which is peculiar to warm and temperate climates, forms nests, in size and shape resembling sugar loaves, and even sometimes greatly exceeding these in size, which are suspended from rocks, or from trees, and particularly from the oak. The populousness of these hives is much greater than those of the common bee. The nymphs of this bee, which are eatable, are white and round, like a pearl. The honey is of a greyish color, but of a fine flavor.

    The fourth species is a yellow bee, smaller than the common one, but like it, furnished with a sting. Its honey is not equal to those already mentioned.

    The fifth is a small bee furnished with a sting, which constructs hives of an orbicular form, in subterranean cavities; and the honey is sour and somewhat bitter.

    The TLALPIPPROLLI, which is the sixth species, is black and yellow, of the size of the common bee, but has no sting.

    WASP

    The XICOTLI or Xicote, is a thick black wasp, with a yellow belly, which makes a very sweet honey, in holes made by it in walls. It is provided with a strong sting, which gives a very painful wound.The Cuicalmiahautl has likewise a sting, but whether it makes honey or not, we do not know.


    FURTHER REPLY:

    Now with the above except written by the Abbe we know that there were yellow and black bees here in the Americas like the imported domesticated ones brought over here by early settlers.

    Now please note! All early scientific writings we follow for the beginning of our sciences were begun by the church and these were very learned men. They also kept very accurate records and I believe that if there were previous records of bees being brought over, they would be so written, but there are none, because the yellow and black bees were already here, just like the common bees of Europe then presently in use.

    Further, early exploration ships had aboard church scientists to document and verify what was found in the new world, so again, I believe it is correct to say, if they were here previously, then the Abbe would have written that into the text, as to prior entry and stated when so, which was not indicated here.

    Therefore, now thrown into this discussion is besides, What is feral? What is domestic? What is natural? NOW, do we need to consider parameters of native and non-native categories as well.

    I think we now do!!!


    Thank you Juandefuca for your excellent reply.

    Dee A. Lusby

  17. #17
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    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
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    Post

    This post is in reply to Robert Brenchley's post of 10-29-2000 10:35AM

    Robert wrote and asked the following:

    "If you have a difference between your domestic and your feral bees, is it because of the sort of selection pressures I have outlined? Is the difference consistent across the whole of the US? What was the climate in the area where the research was done? Meanwhile, if bees develop resistance to TM on their own, why not varroa?"

    Reply:

    Well Robert, the differences between our domestic and feral bees that were shown in tests published in the Journal of Economic Entomology I would say were due to neither of your suggested causes.

    Yes also, the difference is consistent across the whole of our United States from the West Coast of California to our East Coast of the Virginias.

    The climates involved had a whole spectrum of range from damp coastal plains to desert areas, to high mountain locations.

    Concerning your last question Robert. It has been found that bees that have developed trachael mite resistance quickly lose such resistance once chemical treatments for varroa are started, necessitating having to go through the whole process again.

    Unfortunately, this time with the mites being triggered into their full reproductive capability for both trachael and varroa mites, and the problem compounded by larger foundation upsizings through the 1980s and 1990s, the problems of mites are much more difficult to handle.Consequently today, beekeepers are finding it difficult to get bees to develop resistance naturally for both mites.

    Now Robert, I feel I have answered your questions, but probably not the way you were hoping.

    If you want to discuss further on the subject, please come back and let's go deeper to help you find the information you seek. Just tell me which direction you wish to go so we can discuss and maybe others can help also.

    Sincerely

    Dee A. Lusby

  18. #18
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    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    Post

    Barry, this is in reply to your post of 10-29-2000 09:40 PM

    You wrote: I still need to get this issue clarified. Are you using the term "feral" to mean any bee that is not living in a beekeepers hive?

    Reply:

    Yes. Technically under USA law, any beehive not in beekeeper maintained equipment with removeable frames is considered feral. Relate it to other farm/ranch livestock. On the open plains on state and federal lands the livestock is in a feral natural mode, but once in a corral they are considered under man's control and in a domesticated situation. Now here too, there is a point of confusion. How big do you consider the corral can be and still be considered under man's control.

    Barry, then writes:

    I'm sure there are places in the world where wild bees still exist on their own year after year, but surely this is not the norm?

    Actually, I would say it is. It is only in industrial/developed areas where it is not. Ours is a big world.

    Barry further writes:

    What kind of influence are my bees really getting? Aren't they getting the influence from my neighbors bees or the swarm of bees that left one of my hives last year?

    Reply:

    This depends.Swarms can travel up to 15 or more miles before settling down, depending upon what influences cause them to swarm, which can be many. However, for mating purposes, there is a distinct radius that has to be kept within, just like there is for foraging purposes. Also density of the given number of hives whether feral or domestic in a given area comes into play. Technically, since nature always outbreeds to ensure evolution goes forward you probably don't have the influence you think you have when it comes to mating.

    Barry also writes:

    Can we expect a swarm to make it on their own with varroa around?

    Reply:

    Depends. Some swarms will have problems and some won't. I would say it depends upon their point of acclimitization within their localized area as to whether or not they will make it with Varroa around.

    Barry lastly states and asks:

    I know this will bring up the issue of bee size too. It also takes several generations for the bees to size down when left on their own. First the bees have to be able to live that long (several years) and with varroa, I imagine the percentage of survivors drop way down. Comments? or should I even ask...:&gt; )

    Reply:

    Again, the outcome here depends upon the external influences at play. Many areas in the world will have no problems and yet many will, and are indeed having problems.

    The areas seeming to have the most problems are where man's encroachment has dominated, with accompanying practices of feral bee genocide,and artificial breeding/comb enlargements trying to change what should naturallly be in a given area.

    Further comments to any of the above or new ones needing reply? There is still much to go over and discuss.

    Anyone else with ideas to add to what has already been said either here or previously?

    Sincerely

    Dee A. Lusby

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    Naples, Maine
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    Post

    First of all, THANKS to all who have added questions and comments in this discussion. It has been a great discussion tool AND has helped my education of beekeeping immensely.

    Now, I'd like to add a question based on a reply that Dee wrote to Barry. In the post of 11-07-00, Dee quoted Barry and replied as follows:

    Barry further writes:

    What kind of influence are my bees really getting? Aren't they getting the influence from my neighbors bees or the swarm of bees that left one of my hives last year?

    Reply:

    This depends.Swarms can travel up to 15 or more miles before settling down, depending upon what influences cause them to swarm, which can be many. However, for mating purposes, there is a distinct radius that has to be kept within, just like there is for foraging purposes. Also density of the given number of hives whether feral or domestic in a given area comes into play. Technically, since nature always outbreeds to ensure evolution goes forward you probably don't have the influence you think you have when it comes to mating.

    Now for my question... Wouldn't Barry be correct in questioning the effect that neighbors/his hives would have on feral colonies as drones from several colonies will compete to mate with virgin queens in the spring? As these new feral colonies expand and split naturally, wouldn't breeding with local drones provide a mix of bee strains which would explain the reason why everyones colonies have dark and light, small and large bees? As you suggested, I did in fact notice that my colonies have dark and light, small and large bees within. As far as effects of local domestic bees goes... If a colony travels 15 miles away to settle, how far will drones travel in order to mate?

    Thanks for the education,
    Paul

  20. #20
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    Mar 2000
    Location
    Sequim / Wa / USA
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    175
    Wow , I have not been around for a few days and a lot of excellent thoughts are presented.
    First I might mention that Dee has again educated, at least me, that there are indeed NATIVE american continent's bees which Produce Honey !!!
    I was never aware of it because there appears to be hardly any mention of it in the common literature or debates.
    There are of course a multitude of other pollinating insects which either look like miniature bees of different colors as well as a variety of wasps to assure the pollination of flora in the americas . Whether they are able to sting I have not tried to provoke them.
    I have no quarrel with the subject of gross influences committed by us as far as genetics are concerned. Neither do I find fault with Barry's standpoint of this maniacle sugar syrup attitude at all costs.
    As far as this debate goes as it applies to the preference : I found that bees not necessarily "LIKE" sugar syrup but certainly go for it when you present them with chunks of pressed comb as I done yesterday.
    I draw the line in removal of honey when it comes down to their "House" and supply, AND if there is enough stores in them to warrant the removal of Supers.
    But I like to bring another item to the attention . This info is of second hand nature and alledgedly derives from the academic researchers.
    Tracheal mites : A 60% ( Don't hold me to that number,it could be 40, I forgot) infestation is not fatal .
    Varroa: "Our" bees are able to carry 2 mites without grave results.
    That means : If a colony has , let's say, 50 000 workers , that gives 100 000 mites in the hive on the bees.
    Going past this number per bee is fatal.
    Now, I could quote my findings now, but it is better to hold off until I have more detailed facts.
    I suspect that by my anecdotal experience there is hope that these figures above seem true.
    In respect to so called "Feral" colonies that might just be the reason they survived amidst the onslaught of mites in conjunction with a genetic trait of good housekeeping and hygenic behaviour on themself.
    I have mentioned it before ( Not here I believe) that also I try to spot mites on bees , I only saw ONE on a bee outside the hive , Very few in drone brood.
    Yet with the application of chemical warfare Thousands dropped off.
    On the other side of the coin I have reports from reliable sources the incidence of visually detecting mites up the ying yang on bees and crippling effects in combination with it. These colonies perished.
    As far as the genetic variety ( Color diffences) is concerned which we observe within our colonies is as far as I can figure the fault by the inherent natural behavior of the male specimen.
    And then there is the incidence of the mite leaving the "sinking ship" When AFB is within the colony.
    Furthermore has the reduction of cell size an additional role to play .
    Ok that'es enough for now,
    JDF
    Ps : For those people from the united kingdom:
    Back in the 50 ties or early 60 I read a book from an English author which attributed the demise of the native bee to the management of skeps which eventually wiped the colonies off the isle. Then, they had to import the "Italian" to start all over again. He also had something to convey as it pertains to the African bee.True ????.

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