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  1. #21
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    It may have been possible that through nature if we had left our bees untreated that we would of had natural selection or at least hope there would of been or else there would be no bees period. don't forget that varroa is an unatural parasite to the european honey bee, it's been only the last 15 years here anyway that we had to take measures to control the mites. Now, if i didn't start treating at this time i know i would of lost all if not most of my hives and that would probably still happen today. Tell me, if even 65% of everything we eat is due to the direct pollenation of the honeybee, how would we, at that time let the number of hives in north america get to a devestating low in order to aquire genes that are now starting to become active and nurtured. You would of though that something of a mite resistant bee would of come out of europe already too, but i see there still treating over there too. but i reckon it wasn't worth it to them "beekeepers and growers who need pollenation" to let most of the bees die in order to get those few hive that might survive, that might have a gene to be resistant to the mite. It is sad that we ever treated for mites. we never should of had to.
    Will Gruenwald Chilliwack BC

  2. #22
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    Just as a note from someone who is an entomologist and every bit as interested in other insects as in honey bees, honey bees are generally lousy pollinators. They perform well on certain domesticated crops, but even on many of those crops, other pollinators are more effective. Those other pollinators are more difficult to manage, meaning that populations might be low when they're most needed, and they lack the capacity to produce honey or produce as much as our honey bees, so they get left out of many discussions.

    Grains are largely wind-pollinated, and even many fruits are pollinated by more efficient pollinators for each species (such as beetles, flies, butterflies and moths, ants, wild bees, wasps, etc.). What I'm really trying to point out to all of you is that honey bees are not responsible for pollinating 65 percent of the food we eat. They help with a large variety of foods, but these foods would persist without honey bees, particularly if the plants that produce the foods are native to North America, where honey bees have been introduced.

  3. #23
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    >>The resitant bees would have survived and we wouldn't need to treat.

    The beekeeping industry would sure look different.

    >>Terramyacin made stronger AFB. Roundup will make stronger weeds

    What? RAFB isnt anymore deadly to the bees than the old AFB strain. Affects the hives the same-death. The only difference is that we can control the RAFB with terramyacin.
    Roundup resistant weeds stronger??? No, just tolerant to that chemical treatment.
    Where are you comming frome dickm??? Obviously you dont understant the genii you speak of...


    >honey bees are not responsible for pollinating 65 percent of the food we eat. They help with a large variety of foods, but these foods would persist without honey bees, particularly if the plants that produce the foods are native to North America, where honey bees have been introduced.

    Native pollinatiors are important, yes. But you are overlooking the point that our native pollinatiors, never had the responsability to pollinate the vast number flowers on the huge number acres found on the land scape right now. Perhaps, the native populations were sufficient before agriculture appeared, but now their significance to pollination is next to nill. Remember also, agriculture may have displaced much of their habitat.
    I really believe your dismissal of 65% is wrong. They maynot be the most efficient pollinatiors, but by having the ability to collect a valuable product allows us beekeepers to have our hives scattered amoungst the landscape. Without them there, there would be little to no insect pollination.
    Ever grow Buckwheat? Almonds perhaps? There is a direct corrilation B/W #of hives/acre and the increased yeild of crop collected/acre. Factual evidence bees contribute enourmously to the pollination of our produce. It is harder to attribute factual evidence to self pollination crops sutch as canola. They claim up to 30% increase on a well pollinated crop. And this comes from seed growers in Alberta, who need well pollinated plants.

    [size="1"][ December 13, 2005, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: Ian ][/size]
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  4. #24
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    Ian, I have to correct you on a few things. I've read a lot of you posts and appreciate your insights, but I think you're a bit off on the pollination issue.

    1) The number of flowers on the number of acres largely hasn't changed. The species have changed. Find a tract of native prairie and look at the composition. Native prairie contains more plants per acre than cropland, and the number of flowering plants available for insect pollinators is generally higher.

    The problem comes with the lack of diversity. As you correctly pointed out, agriculture displaces native pollinators.

    2) Honey bees offer a huge service as supplemental pollinators. The fact that crops, even canola, buckwheat and almonds, can be pollinated with no honey bees present means that honey bees are not solely responsible.

    Again, in concentrated crops, honey bees offer an easy way to supplement the native pollinators. Has anyone ever tried comparing pollination rates in canola, for example, between fields with honey bee hives and field with comparable numbers of dermestid beetles added? I think you'd be surprised at the results, but no one offers pollination services from dermestid beetles.

    3) I don't deny honey bees as a pollinator, or any other bees in general. Ask entomologists, though, (not just beekeepers) and they will tell you the same thing. The behavior of other insects makes them better general pollinators than bees. Many small beetles crawl into flowers and wallow around in them, completely covering themselves with pollen and them smearing it on every surface they contact.

    Bees are good pollinators, but rank lower on the list of importance. As pollinators in general, the groups of insects rank, in order of importance: beetles, butterflies/moths, flies, ants/bees/wasps, other groups of insects.

    4) Again, the statement was "65% of everything we eat is due to the direct pollenation of the honeybee." Honey bees may serve as pollinators of plants that provide 65% of all we eat, but most of those plants still have open pollination systems. I wonder about the 65% figure in general, though. Like I pointed out before, grains (wheat, rice, corn, rye, barley, oats) don't require insects for pollination. Meat is largely produced by converting the energy of grasses (grains are the seeds of grasses) into flesh, meaning that the meat you eat really doesn't require much in the way of insect pollination.

    Obviously, I keep bees, too, and I recognize the joys and benefits of apiculture. I think beekeeping provides enough other benefit, though, that we don't need to make claims about bees that can't be supported by scientific data.

  5. #25
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    "What? RAFB isnt anymore deadly to the bees than the old AFB strain."

    This is entirely true. Also, there is a complete lack of evidence showing resistant HUMAN pathenogens or plasmids arising from AFB. In short, the great danger here is not the development of RAFB, but rather antibiotic tainted honey. If, as Bob says, routine testing is on the way, then tainted honey will be less common in coming years. RAFB simply means that antibiotics become less useful. For those who do not rely on antibiotics, this causes no concern. A small side note: if a beekeeper plans on using tylosin, then they should probably consider using it at the same time as terramycin. It is many times harder for bacteria to survive and develop resistance to two antibiotics used simultaneously. I suspect that this will not be done due to cost concerns. There is no substitute for clean equipment, good comb and diligent observation.

  6. #26
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    >>The number of flowers on the number of acres largely hasn't changed.

    Gee, I dont know Jon. I look at what the tall grass prairie and wooded landscape looked like here over 100 years ago,and to be frank, it was mostly grass in the praries and heavey scrub bush in the wooded landscapes. I tuck one of my bee yards right beside our 500 acres of virgin bushland, for obvious reasons, and the only honey I collect from it is the early flowering trees, and scrub fruiting trees. No surplus honey, all to brood food. After that my honey is all collected from the neighbouring fields. YOur right, there seemed to be more diversity in its native plants, but the shear volume of nectar secreated compaired to current agriculture doesnt compaire.
    Maybe your landscape in South Dakota is different, but it seems to me North Dakota has much the same simular grass lands as we do.

    >>can be pollinated with no honey bees present means that honey bees are not solely responsible.


    Yes, but is the pollination adequate. Not experienced with almond pollination (perhaps someone can enlighten us) but I know for a fact, that 1 beehive/acre of buckwheat can increase yeild of the field by 100-150%.


    >>between fields with honey bee hives and field with comparable numbers of dermestid beetles added?

    Maybe we might be argueing on a different level here. I thought you were speaking mearly on the current native pollinator populations.
    There is no economic advantage to adding those beetles over honeybees. And by adding the beetles, then they are not from the current native stock.


    >>Bees are good pollinators, but rank lower on the list of importance. As pollinators in general, the groups of insects rank, in order of importance: beetles, butterflies/moths, flies, ants/bees/wasps, other groups of insects.


    I understand your statement, and agree to a point. I am saying their populations are not sufficient to adequately pollinate the flower needed by producers. This is why producers will pay to have bees pollinate thier crop.

    Lets look at Alflafa. The leaf cutter. Native, I beleive, and very efficient at pollinating. Why not use honeybees here? It is because bee will ignore alfalfa if there is something better about, where leafcutters limits are 100-200 feet from thier nest.
    Yet sutch an efficient pollinatior isnt used for any other crop, why? Because they dont produce a high value product as a by product of the sevice, and they are very labour intensive.


    >>65% of everything we eat is due to the direct pollenation

    Ya, mabe I can see what you are saying. With the vast volume of food out there produced. It would be interesting to see the facts leading up to that conclusion, to understand thier thinking and perspective on the stats.

    >>that we don't need to make claims about bees that can't be supported by scientific data.

    Nor do we need exagerations on the wonders of nature [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  7. #27
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    Ian . . .

    >I look at what the tall grass prairie and wooded landscape looked like here over 100 years ago

    Ian, how old ARE you? [img]smile.gif[/img] (couldnt resist [img]smile.gif[/img] )

  8. #28
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    >I look at what the tall grass prairie and wooded landscape looked like here over 100 years ago

    100 or even 500 years ago does not constitute a pristine wilderness. Since people first arrived on this continent (over 20,000 yrs ago by most estimates) ecosystems have seen waves of extinction and change. All nature that we see now is just a time-series of changing baselines, altered for the benefit of humans. In the last 150 years or so, we've started to alter things in ways that do not even benefit us anymore.

  9. #29
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    Ian,

    First I better tell you that I've used a lot of your advice on managing bee colonies in the north to ru my own hives, especially your suggestions about overwintering. For anyone else reading, I recommend Ian's methods for managing hives to anyone. He's running a successful operation in an area with a winter climate that makes beekeeping a challenge.

    How exactly do you manage your "virgin bushland?" Most ecologists agree that grasslands historically burned at least once every other year, and tallgrass prairies may have burned as often as twice each year. Unless you've continued this regimen, the prairie certainly does look different. Do you have Kentucky bluegrass, brome, sweet clover, dandelions or other invaders there? If you do, it's certainly not native prairie. Native woodlands burned, too, but those fires were obviously less frequent.

    >>between fields with honey bee hives and field with comparable numbers of dermestid beetles added?

    >Maybe we might be argueing on a different level here. I thought you were speaking mearly on the current native pollinator populations.
    There is no economic advantage to adding those beetles over honeybees. And by adding the beetles, then they are not from the current native stock.

    OK, so first off, dermestids are native, at least most species found widely around North America. Secondly, if there's an economic advantage to supplemental pollination (say, by honey bees), and some one could figure out how to raise and move large numbers of these beetles, and then demonstrated that rates of pollination (say, in buckwheat) were higher than if you used honey bees, wouldn't that be an economic advantage? Sure, the people handling the beetles wouldn't get a honey crop, but couldn't there still be an economic advantage?

    You mention leaf-cutter bees as the only alternative pollinators being used. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least two others: bumble bees, especially for pollinating tomatoes and other greenhouse fruit crops (honey bees don't orient well under glass, and the "buzz pollination" method used by bumble bees is more effective), and blow flies, used to pollinate onion seed crops. While bumble bees produce tiny amounts of honey, blow flies don't produce any, and both are still economical pollinators. I'm sure I could come up with plenty of other examples, too, if you're interested.

    I've read the examples of improved yields in buckwheat, canola, sunflowers, blueberries and orchard crops, and I see great merit in setting hives for these crops. As components of the average person's diet, though, -- and remember that the claim was made that 65% of the food we eat is pollinated by honey bees -- buckwheat, canola, sunflowers, blueberries and orchard crops make up a tiny fraction of the daily intake. Then think of the grains: wheat, rice, corn, oats, rye, barley, and the meat (beef, mutton, swine) produced by feeding grasses to livestock. None of those crops needs pollination by bees. Most of the people in South Dakota, and I believe in North Dakota, most of the rest of the U.S., and Canada, like their meat (conversion of energy from grasses to flesh) and potatoes (no bee pollination necessary).

    But that's beside the point. Bees are worth keeping anyway. I keep them. They're fascinating creatures, and they are the only insects that produce such massive quantities of honey. I just think we should hesitate before we throw around such bold claims about the importance of honey bees as pollinators. Remember, no species of Apis, or honey bee, is native to the western hemisphere, yet native pollinators successfully pollinated North and South American plants before honey bees were imported.

  10. #30
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    >>100 or even 500 years ago does not constitute a pristine wilderness.

    but vastly untouched land

    >>How exactly do you manage your "virgin bushland?

    Thats exactly it. Its virgin bushland. Untouched, comletely unultered, never has been farmed anyfassion.

    >> Do you have Kentucky bluegrass, brome, sweet clover, dandelions or other invaders there?

    Yes, on our grassland pastures, which isnt virgin. I will tell you dandilions do better on grazed land. Clover seems to keep to the well drained areas, for it doesnt compete with the grass well at all.

    I havnt seen any grassland fires, ever. Our bushland occassionaly burn, mabey once in 20 years or so. **** neighbours

    >>dermestids are native, at least most species found widely around

    I take your word for it, that they are native. But as we begun this conversation, I was under the impression you were refering to current native pollinatior populations. Seemed to me you were implying there was enough native pollinatiors in researve to handle the huge responsibility of properly pollinating all the agricultural croplands. By raising them and pollinating with them, no longer are they of the native population.


    >>Sure, the people handling the beetles wouldn't get a honey crop, but couldn't there still be an economic advantage?

    There would be, if it could be done profitably, and make it worth everyones while.

    >>You mention leaf-cutter bees as the only alternative pollinators being used.

    Okay now Jon. I am not sure why you are putting words in my mouth. I didnt say that at all. Re-read my post, I didnt even imply that. Leaf cutters are commonly used to pollinate alfalfa. I was using them as an example, and a good one. I was trying to demenstrate that even though, this native pollinator is so efficient, it is just not practical to use its services for anyother major pollination effort. I call them a specialty pollinator, where as honeybees are much more versitile.

    >>While bumble bees produce tiny amounts of honey,

    Next to nill, not even worth considering when debating their economical worth to pollination.

    >>Then think of the grains: wheat, rice, corn, oats, rye, barley, and the meat (beef, mutton, swine) produced by feeding grasses to livestock. None of those crops needs pollination by bees.

    This is obvious. Frankly, I am a professional beekeeper. Why do you think I have to be informed that bees dont pollinate wheat.

    You have already somewhat convined me that mabey that 65%# might be high,..


    >>Remember, no species of Apis, or honey bee, is native to the western hemisphere,

    I think someone here greatly disagrees with that. But I frankly dont know enough to discuss it


    >>hesitate before we throw around such bold claims about the importance of honey bees as pollinators.


    I will never hesitate the extreem improtance honeybees have on our agricultural production. And as I have said before, our native pollinatiors arnt in sufficient numbers to adequately do the job!! Agriculture is everwhere, and the pollination requirements just cant be handled by our native species. Pollination must be incorperated into agriculture to ensure proper fertilization of the flowering plants of our crops.

    >>>>yet native pollinators successfully pollinated North and South American plants before honey bees were imported.

    South American didnt have the millions on hudreds of millions of cultivated acres it now does. Where do you think all that honey is comming from?


    Thanks for the commplement at your beginning of the post, appreciated. But take all my so called knollege with a good grain of salt. Just my opinion on honeybee biology...
    Sorry for getting stern, but I frankly dont agree with what you are continuing to state [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Chow

    [size="1"][ December 13, 2005, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: Ian ][/size]
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #31
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    I need to clarify and correct I few things I said previously.

    First the correction:
    >>You mention leaf-cutter bees as the only alternative pollinators being used.

    You called me on this one, Ian, and you're right. What I meant to say was "You only mention leaf-cutter bees as alternative pollinators." The placement of that little word "only" changes things drastically, and it makes my original statement wrong. My apologies.

    Now for a couple clarifications:

    First, I apparently gave the impression that I believe populations of native pollinators are still great enough to adequately handle all of the pollination needs of agriculture. That wasn't my intention, nor is it my belief. I fully recognize that modern agriculture requires higher rates of pollination than simple survival of plant species requires. I never meant to question the value of using honey bees to supplement pollination of crops. Pollination services by beekeepers have been shown scientifically to increase yields of many crops and even improve the quality of some crops. Beekeepers provide a valuable, economic service to producers of fruit crops, almonds, sunflowers, canola, buckwheat, and any other crops that can be pollinated by bees.

    Part of the reason that populations of native pollinators is too low to provide adequate pollination, though, lies in modern agricultural practices. Growing monocultures of plants across vast tracts of land severely limits the potential for diversity among insects (pollinators included).

    And, to clarify, the honey bee is not native to North America. No species of Apis (the genus that contains the honey bee) is native to North America. I have a master's degree in systematics of insects from the University of Kansas, perhaps the leading institution in the study of relationships among bees, and I am certain of that information. Depending on how you separate species the genus Apis contains, more or less the following species:

    Apis mellifera (European honey bee)
    Apis cerana (Asian honey bee)
    Apis dorsata
    Apis florea
    Apis koschevnikovi
    Apis laboriosa
    possibly a few other species.

    All are native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and many are still only found in southeast Asia. Only A. mellifera and A. cerana are kept commercially, and only A. mellifera has been introduced into the western hemisphere. For those who don't already know it, A. cerana is the original host of Varroa mites. Somehow they made the jump to A. mellifera.

    On the issue of Apis being native only to the eastern hemisphere, I'll take on all comers. I have the top systematists of bees to back me up.
    (I should add that one fellow in Kansas believes the world is only 150 years old, and everything was created where it now exists. He claims that Europeans have always been in North America since the creation of the world, and would probably claim the same about European honey bees. If you agree with him and can't be convinced that the world is older than 150 years, I guess I've got nothing.)

  12. #32
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    I would interest me to read the document, in which they claim "65% of all food we eat" is directly influenced by the honeybee. I would like to see how they came up with those conclusions.


    >>All are native to Europe,

    I believe you,


    >>fellow in Kansas believes the world is only 150 years old

    It seems there are more nuts out there than we know of [img]smile.gif[/img]


    >>Beekeepers provide a valuable, economic service to producers of fruit crops, almonds, sunflowers, canola, buckwheat, and any other crops that can be pollinated by bees.

    Nature just cant keep up to our requirements
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #33
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    Wait a minute guys. how did (swarms to gm for mite control) go this far off topic. swarming isn't the answer, gm might bee.
    Will Gruenwald Chilliwack BC

  14. #34
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    OK, I'll bring it back full circle. I was told a few years ago -- back when people were worried that pollen from Bt corn might kill monarch butterfly caterpillars -- that pollen from Bt corn wouldn't kill honey bees but might be strong enough to kill Varroa. I'm currently studying the changing ecology of insect pests in transgenic crops, so I have access to a lot of Bt corn pollen and have set up an experimental protocol to test the hypothesis.

    Personally, I worry some about the bees. Since bee larvae eat pollen, and caterpillars fed Bt pollen died from the insecticidal proteins, I imagine Bt corn pollen would be pretty hard on bees. Anyone know of any information on the topic, or have any thoughts on the idea of Bt corn pollen for the control of Varroa?

  15. #35
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    Since Certan has been proven safe for bees and it IS Bt, I doubt that the Starlink corn pollen will hurt the bees. But then I don't know about the AMOUNT of the protiens from the Bt in the pollen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #36
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    After posting my question about Bt corn pollen this morning, I talked to Mr. Richard Adee of Adee Honey Farms (he runs about 75,000 hives). He says that Bt pollen has no real effect on Varroa. I guess that's expected; the proteins in Bt corn originally targeted just lepidopterans (moths). Just thought I catch that one before it starts making the rounds as a potential saviour.

  17. #37
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    I think I missed something - what is RAFB?

    Ian,
    >Roundup resistant weeds stronger??? No, just tolerant to that chemical treatment.

    What are you going to kill all your RR weeds with but some other foul, polluting chemical that will get into watercourses and kill fish, persist in the environment and cause more problems for your grandchildren? We have to get off the chemical bandwagon or say goodbye to many more species that have been here longer than us, including bees.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  18. #38
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    > we have to get off the chemical bandwagon...

    I dont think you'd get an arguement from anyone in here, givin a better option. I'm sure that everyone would prefer natural resistance to chemical intervention. Cheeper/ easier on the enviornment...win/win. I think that our dissagreement isnt on where we should go, but on how we should get there.

  19. #39
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    I know this has been an intence conversation, but I am disapointed that no one jumped me on the

    "mother nature is the ultimate capitalist"

    comment. I thought for sure I'd get nailed for that one!

  20. #40
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    I'll stir the pot again, but I'll leave your "ultimate capitalist" comment alone, BEW.

    So far, the discussion on this thread has focused on GM plants and bacteria, with the possibility of spreading genes into other organisms. First question for thought: if genes can transfer from one organism to a completely different organism, through viral incorporations and transmissions or any other method, isn't adding a bacterial gene to corn or a fish gene to tomatoes or whatever just choosing traits that might get moved by natural processes anyway? After all, if genes can be transfered across groups of organisms by viruses, the viruses surely can't be selective in only incorporating genes that were first artificially added to organisms by humans.

    Then, secondly, the idea that I've been waiting for someone to bring up. Adding Bt to corn was an effort to reduce spraying corn for pests; the plants make the insecticide, and the producers don't have to broadcast insecticides across as much land. Now the jump to beekeeping: I think everyone agrees that a bee naturally resistant to Varroa would be an ideal solution to the mite problem. What if we could add a gene (GM, or "unnatural resistance") to honey bees that would make them resistant to Varroa? Would anyone use the bees in their operations?

    BTW, I'm not claiming I'm for or against these ideas. I just want to see how people react -- I'm playing devil's advocate, in a sense.

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