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  1. #121
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Where I am in Teresopolis Brazil at the 1200 meter level in the mountains regularly gets in the mid to low 30s at the coldest part of the winter and the AHBs survive just fine.

  2. #122
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    Thumbs down Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Weitzel View Post
    I have done a good bit of study on AHB genetics. Your conclusions here don't appear to be quite accurate.

    1. EHB queens mated with AHB drones cannot produce queens with A. m. scutella mtDNA and when isolated in an area where the drones are predominately EHB, the colony eventually will pretty much return to EHB genetics.
    2. AHB can and will cluster, documented overwintered colonies of AHB (African matrilines) have been found as far north as Albuquerque, NM. I am not sure where you got the information that they don't cluster, but it is not correct. They survive quite well in the mountains around Tuscon, AZ where winter temperatures easily drop to levels that would kill them if they did not.
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archiv...4/bees0304.htm

    But the third factor is undeniably true: EHB queen bees mate disproportionately with African drones, resulting in rapid displacement of EHB genes in a colony. This happens because AHBs produce more drones per colony than EHBs, especially when queens are most likely to be mating, DeGrandi-Hoffman explains.

    We also found that even when you inseminate a queen with a 50-50 mix of African drone semen and EHB semen, the queens preferentially use the African semen first to produce the next generation of workers and drones, sometimes at a ratio as high as 90 to 10," she says. "We don't know why this happens, but it's probably one of the strongest factors in AHBs replacing EHBs.

    When an Africanized colony replaces its queen, she can have either African or European paternity. Virgin queens fathered by African drones emerge as much as a day earlier than European-patriline queens. This enables them to destroy rival queens that are still developing. African virgin queens are more successful fighters, too, which gives them a significant advantage if they encounter other virgin queens in the colony. DeGrandi-Hoffman and Schneider also found that workers perform more bouts of vibration-generating body movements on African queens before they emerge and during fighting, which may give the queens some sort of survival advantage.

    http://www.tlch2o.com/courses/AfricanHoneyBee.pdf page 23 of 87

    “Winter Survival
    Since the AHB is tropical in nature, it may not be able to regulate its body temperature as
    efficiently as the EHB. Studies indicate that the AHB does not form as efficient a cluster
    during cold weather as the EHB.”

    http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/B1290.htm#Range

    Potential Range of Africanized Bees in the United States
    As Africanized bees expand into temperate areas, their tropical adaptations are less advantageous. Cold weather seems to limit both their defensiveness and overwintering capacity. Africanized bees are more defensive in warm tropical regions and less so in cooler zones. In South America the bees do not overwinter south of 34 degrees S latitude, which corresponds roughly to Atlanta, Georgia. (Please note, however, that Africanized bees are north of this latitude in the American West.)
    In areas where their ranges overlap, African- and European-derived bees interbreed, causing “hybrid zones” where bees share African and European traits. In Argentina, Africanized bees dominate in the northern semitropical regions but European bees dominate in the southern temperate areas; the area in between (ca. 32-34 degrees latitude) is a hybrid zone where bees have varying degrees of African or European traits. A similar pattern may occur in the United States, with African traits dominating in southern regions.

    The above are quotes from the research papers which can be found at the web sites preceeding the quotes. However, this is exactly the information given to us Beekeepers during the late 70s and early 80s in anticipation of AHB arriving here at the anticipated time period of late 80s early 90s. This just isn't new stuff. Much research had previously been done in South America.

    Gene, as far as I know I did not put the thumbs down on here, at least not purposely, forgive me of any negative implication.
    Last edited by DRUR; 08-18-2009 at 12:04 AM. Reason: I didn't put the thumbs down on here Gene.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  3. #123
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    From the paper I cited earlier:

    "The runs show a negative relationship between the AHB habitat and fractional tree cover." (Also reported as pretty rough data).

    Meaning: more tree cover, less AHB.

    Could this help explain why the AHB maps show faster expansion to the west than to the east? Or, is it just an indicator of another factor already stated regarding rainfall (i.e. consistent rain leads to more forest cover, leads to fewer AHB colonies)? Or is it more about temperature?

    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

  4. #124
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by bnatural View Post
    From the paper I cited earlier:

    "The runs show a negative relationship between the AHB habitat and fractional tree cover." (Also reported as pretty rough data).

    Or is it more about temperature?

    Bill
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archiv...4/bees0304.htm
    "Why AHBs haven't progressed eastward into Louisiana—though they were expected there years ago—is a mystery. So ARS entomologist José D. Villa began looking at factors that might correlate with where AHBs have spread. It isn't just minimum winter temperature that limits AHB spread, as many believed, says Villa, who is in the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
    What immediately jumped out at me was the correlation with rainfall, he says. Rainfall over 55 inches, distributed evenly throughout the year, is almost a complete barrier to AHB spread.
    Total annual rainfall alone isn't a barrier; AHBs have been found in areas of the Tropics with higher rainfall. But in areas with high rainfall distributed throughout the year, Villa's pattern of AHB spread fits perfectly.
    Villa is quick to point out that this is simply a mathematical correlation and not proof of cause and effect. But, he says, you do find that 55-inches-of-rainfall point right at the edge of where AHBs stopped moving east about 10 years ago. He's planning experiments that may uncover the behavioral or physiological mechanism that explains why."

    Bill, we have hot humid temperatures here in East Texas, but so far in my county, and easterly adjacent counties there have been no AHB confirmations. We do however have extended periods of cold weather when temperatures will run between 20-25F and occassionally 15-25F. Once we even had -3F and temperatures didn't get above freezing for 2 weeks here, but this certainly was not the norm.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  5. #125
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    That's really interesting. I looked up the North American Monsoon, a pattern with which folks in the Southwest are familiar, I'm sure. Here's a link to a pic:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monsoonmapb.JPG

    It is a pretty nice correlation to the progression westward, and the lack of contiguous progression eastward. From my climatological googling (incomplete, for sure) it appears that places in Louisiana and Alabama have a more even rainfall, while Dade County, Florida has more monsoonal weather with heavy rain in one period and drier in another. So, maybe to your point, the AHB there is the result of 'hitching a ride' (queens, packages, back of a truck, whatever) and finding a hospitable climate. I don't know how mid-west weather maps to these patterns, but there the temps may become the limiting factor. All interesting stuff.

    I am coming into this late, so I'm sorry if all of this has already been discussed to death.

    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

  6. #126
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by DRUR View Post
    [url] In Argentina, Africanized bees dominate in the northern semitropical regions but European bees dominate in the southern temperate areas; the area in between (ca. 32-34 degrees latitude) is a hybrid zone where bees have varying degrees of African or European traits..
    In that Argentina study of Buenos Aries Province isn't the conclusion that they have maintained the pure EHB stock farther north of 32-34? This is important vis-a-vis GA because Atlanta and the city of Buenos Aires are 33-34. Keep in mind that North and South are reversed in South America as far as hot/cold. Furthermore GA is a state similar to Buenos Aires province in that there is high EHB density due to all the queen breeders, package suppliers etc.
    I'll see if I can get some info. from a definitive source in Argentina who worked at Wilbanks in GA. No doubt Wilbanks has an opinion on this. Does Delaplane have a statement?

  7. #127
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by DRUR View Post
    ......
    Gene, as far as I know I did not put the thumbs down on here, at least not purposely, forgive me of any negative implication.
    Danny, I hope my post was not taken as being testy, it was not intended in that manner.

    1. It did accomplish the goal for which it was intended, that is to get you to qualify your claim that AHB do not cluster. In fact they do, while your are correct in stating that some studies seem to indicate that they don't cluster as efficiently as EHB, they still do cluster and can survive cold weather in some areas. Your previous posts could have lead some to believe that they don't cluster at all. The main point I was trying to make is their inability to survive in the more northern areas is a result of a number of cold weather detrimental behavior characteristics and not just their less efficient clustering.

    2. While it is true that EHB queens in areas saturated with AHB drones will mate predominately with AHB drones and it is also true that this will cause the colony's workers to show increasing AHB behaviors, EHB queens themselves will still produce EHB drones. They cannot pass on any genes to their drones from the drones with which they mate. Even when the queen is superseded the resulting offspring will inherit her mtDNA and produce EHB drones carrying a percentage of AHB genes, but they will still not be pure AHB drones. When you look at the studies being done, IMO, mtDNA seems to have emerged as the standard to determine the extent of Africanized presence in a particular geographic area. The only way for an EHB colony to become 100% Africanized is through usurpation by an AHB queen (African mtDNA). There have been several studies that seem to indicate that partially Africanized hybrid bees (with EHB mtDNA) actually are not very hardy and will eventually succumb to replacement by the fully Africanized bees (with African mtDNA) either by usurpation or by their inability to compete and dying out leaving a void that is filled by proliferation of the fully Africanized queens in the area.

    I do believe that a big part of why we don't see much for AHB in East and Southeast Texas is a result of the yearly influx of tens of thousands of EHB colonies overwintered in the area from the north. Also the latest studies done in our area that I have seen show that the AHB presence in areas absent the influence of managed hives only runs around 30%. That would seem to indicate to me that in the areas with the large managed hive influence, one could not conclude that AHB drones would dominate and in fact are probably a fairly small minority. I have been removing feral bees from all over South and Southeast Texas for the last five years to the tune of close to 100 colonies per season. Anecdotally, my experience seems to validate that assumption.

    One other point, when folks look at the map showing the extent of Africanized counties in Texas and surrounding states, because the whole county is colored dark, IMO, it leaves the impression that AHB dominate those counties. This is absolutely incorrect and misleading. If any AHB are found in an aerial pitfall trap in that county then the whole county is colored in indicating their presence, this says nothing about their dominance. Many folks from up north look at these maps and are terrified and convinced that any queen breeder surrounded by dark colored counties must be producing AHB, when in fact, the AHB presence in the area may indeed be minuscule. Conversely it is also misleading when one looks at the map and sees a white county with one or more adjacent counties colored. It defies logic to believe that there is no AHB presence in that county as the bees certainly don't respect county lines.
    Last edited by Gene Weitzel; 08-18-2009 at 03:54 PM. Reason: spelling corrections
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  8. #128
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by bnatural View Post
    From the paper I cited earlier:

    "The runs show a negative relationship between the AHB habitat and fractional tree cover." (Also reported as pretty rough data).

    Meaning: more tree cover, less AHB.

    Could this help explain why the AHB maps show faster expansion to the west than to the east? Or, is it just an indicator of another factor already stated regarding rainfall (i.e. consistent rain leads to more forest cover, leads to fewer AHB colonies)? Or is it more about temperature?

    Bill
    Bill, Texas A & M has done a couple of AHB studies in the wilderness (conservation preserves, etc.) areas in the Pineywoods of East Texas. Their conclusion was that they were able to establish a significant foothold in these areas due to the lack of suitable EHB cavities. AHB would readily inhabit the smaller cavities like woodpecker nests and other voids where EHB generally did not. The studies did not indicate a dominance of AHB had yet developed, but they did show that AHB could compete adequately in the area.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  9. #129
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Weitzel View Post
    Texas A & M has done a couple of AHB studies in the wilderness (conservation preserves, etc.) areas in the Pineywoods of East Texas......The studies did not indicate a dominance of AHB had yet developed, but they did show that AHB could compete adequately in the area.
    So, even in areas with non-monsoonal rainfall and a higher percentage of tree cover, the AHB could (or have) become established, due in part to the lack of competition? Does that mean they are more adaptable then previously thought (at least by me after reading all these posts)?

    Temperature, rainfall patterns, tree coverage, EHB density...it seems that some or all of these factors, and others I have not mentioned, can play a role in advancing or suppressing the spread of AHB. And that does not take into account any dilution effect as a result of all the crossbreeding (also, from what I have read, supposed to be minimal, due to the dominant nature of the AHB genetics, but some must occur).

    Do I have a clue, or am I way off base?

    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

  10. #130
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Weitzel View Post
    Danny, I hope my post was not taken as being testy, it was not intended in that manner.

    1. It did accomplish the goal for which it was intended, that is to get you to qualify your claim that AHB do not cluster.

    2. While it is true that EHB queens in areas saturated with AHB drones will mate predominately with AHB drones and it is also true that this will cause the colony's workers to show increasing AHB behaviors, EHB queens themselves will still produce EHB drones.

    I do believe that a big part of why we don't see much for AHB in East and Southeast Texas is a result of the yearly influx of tens of thousands of EHB colonies overwintered in the area from the north.

    Conversely it is also misleading when one looks at the map and sees a white county with one or more adjacent counties colored. It defies logic to believe that there is no AHB presence in that county as the bees certainly don't respect county lines.
    It wasnt testy, but if it was it wouldnt have mattered. This is a healthy discussion. My point was that I didnt intentionally put the thumbs down. If, however, your contribution IMO had been, so devoid of merit, and I was in a bad mood, I would not have hesitated to express my feelings with a thumbs down.

    1. I did not qualify my claim concerning the clustering issue. My position on this issue was based upon what research during the 70s and 80s was on these bees. The article referred to just makes mention of the difference in clustering of AHB, and that this is the cause for the limitations on movement to colder climates. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the studies to support these statements, but obviously in most all references to the expansion of range this is the issue. See also the NASA map. What is the reason for this northern expansion limitation? There lack of ability to adequately cluster. The degree of this limitation was not discussed. This was merely an answer to your statement in where you state:

    I am not sure where you got the information that they don't cluster, but it is not correct. They survive quite well in the mountains around Tuscon, AZ where winter temperatures easily drop to levels that would kill them if they did not.

    To me this was obviously stating that clustering didn’t have an impact on the AHB expansion to northern climates. Go and read the context of this issue in my prior post #51. Northern expansion was being thrown around like eventually the whole country would be Africanized and this is nothing more than used bull fodder. This thread was getting outlandish, and I was attempting to bring it back to within some type of reasonable discussion of the issue. The issue is if the difference between AHB/EHB ability to cluster will limit northern expansion and it does.

    2. First, let me say that your observation concerning EHB queens producing AHB drones was in error is correct. EHB queens will ONLY produce EHB drones. Nuff said. However, according to the research cited if these EHB queens are bred with any (doesnt have to be from a satuated area) AHB drones, then the study seems to show that the EHB queen will use the AHB semen first, thereby increasing the likelihood that upon supercedure, the offspring will be a hybrid AHB queen which then could produce AHB drones.

    I agree with your migration issue, but also believe it is attributable to proper management techniques.

    > Conversely it is also misleading when one looks at the map and sees a white county with one or more adjacent counties colored. It defies logic to believe that there is no AHB presence in that county as the bees certainly don't respect county lines.<

    True but I don’t see any AHB in Anderson/Houston/Cherokee counties, areas I have logged for over twenty years and I have cut down many trees (unknowingly) with feral bees. My only experience was with regard to a colony which I purchased from close to your area and moved up here, which had a superseded queen.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  11. #131
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Danny,

    I guess I skimmed a little too much in reading the previous posts. Somehow I got the distinct impression that you were advocating that they did not cluster at all, my bad. In spite of how it appears, my statement was not intended to say that their clustering habits were not an issue in their northward expansion, but to demonstrate that they are capable of clustering well enough to survive in some surprisingly cold areas. I think we are on the same page about the bull fodder, however I still feel that their clustering abilities (or lack thereof) are being given a little too much weight without considering the other behavoirs that also tend to make their northern expansion less likely.

    Genetically, a colony with EHB matrilines can never become completely Africanized. While hybrids between EHB and AHB are definitely more aggressive, they are pikers compared to the bees with the African matrilines. Most people tend to lump them all into the designation "AHB", but IMO a distinction should be made between the hybrids that have EHB matrilines and those that have African matrilines. The latter are by far the more dangerous bee, particularly when the queens are mated with drones from other African matriline queens. Then not only do you get the ultra aggressiveness but you also get all the other nasties that go along like pseudo-queens, thelytoky, usurpation swarms, etc, making a transition back to EHB a real nightmare (IMO, you may as well just destroy them and start over). The things I don't like about EHB matriline x AHB hybrids have more to do with their swarminess and tendency to abscond at the drop of a hat. IMO, they create more management headaches than the extra aggressiveness (unless we are talking about backyard hobbyists, then IMO, temperament is at the top of the list). That being said, the EHB matriline x AHB hybrids typically are much easier to re-queen than the African matriline bees making those colonies easier to salvage.
    Last edited by Gene Weitzel; 08-19-2009 at 02:57 PM.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  12. #132
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Weitzel View Post
    Danny, Somehow I got the distinct impression that you were advocating that they did not cluster at all.

    however I still feel that their clustering abilities (or lack thereof) are being given a little too much weight without considering the other behavoirs that also tend to make their northern expansion less likely.
    Probably because of my inability to totally express my viewpoints. In prior posts, others had insunuated that the whole southern 1/3 to 1/2 of the U.S.A would be taken over by AHB. These considerations were made without regard to the 32-34 degree demarcation line. The inability of AHB (among other factors) to effectively cluster restricts the sustainability of population. To ignore this is like saying that eventually we will have AHB in the North Pole. Another post insunuated that the North would be supplying packages and queens to the rest of the country. Statements like this without considering the implications are ridiculous.

    As far as consideration of the weight of clustering it would depend upon what side you are on. Those advocating that the southern 1/3 to 1/2 of U.S.A. will be taken over by AHB give no consideration at all to the clustering issue and its ramifications. Our side hopefully considers clustering in conjuction with other issues such as the rain barrier and nectar production (and probably others that I am not familiar with, maybe you could enlighten us). Sometimes our neglect of the other issues (other than clustering) in trying to show the ridiculousness of proposed unlimited spread of AHB by those proponents becomes all to obvious.

    The rest of your statements I am certainly in agreement with, and would only add that some believe that southern beekeepers fail to implement proper management procedures to control and reduce the AHB problem. This simply is not true. I personally think that those areas of the south where AHB populations are sustainable as opposed to occasional, have done great jobs beings their management procedures are more intense and demanding. I consider myself blessed that I will only have to deal with the problem on occasion as opposed to continuously.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  13. #133
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    I think that a couple of things are pretty clear.

    First, where AHB clearly are suited to the environment, they totally displace that EHB.

    Second, lots of factors go into the analysis of whether AHB or EHB are more suited to a particular area. The two most important ones seem to bee temperature and whether there is frequent rainfall. I suspect that both of those are primarily connected to the swarming behavior of AHB. AHB swarm more, earlier in the year, in smaller groups of bees and end up in smaller/more exposed places. Cold and/or rainy weather would kill off AHB swarms much more than it would EHB swarms, which move in larger numbers and find bigger homes.

    I suspect that there are other factors, since there are other differences between the bees. AHB forage differently. They fly earlier and later in the day. They also do not do much dancing (if at all). Individual bees tend to go out on their own until they find a nectar/pollen source. That works better in tropical areas, where food sources are more diverse and spread out. I would think that EHB would have an advantage in more temparate areas, for that reason.

    The net effect is that in the southern U.S. the extent that AHB do well may be a question where the answer is more local than might be expected. For example, some folks in south Texas may not have EHB. However, I know some beekeepers much to the north (in east-central Oklahoma) who have an ongoing problem with AHB taking over their EHB hives. So far, they have not been found in Tulsa County, but they do seem to be doing well in southeastern Oklahoma. We have much more rain in Northeast Ok than in Southwest, Ok, and it does get cold in winter.

    It will be interesting to see how this develops. In the meantime, I'm very careful about swarms, I will use purchased queens in my hives, which are all near people.

  14. #134
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by DRUR View Post
    Our side hopefully considers clustering in conjuction with other issues such as the rain barrier and nectar production (and probably others that I am not familiar with, maybe you could enlighten us). Sometimes our neglect of the other issues (other than clustering) in trying to show the ridiculousness of proposed unlimited spread of AHB by those proponents becomes all to obvious.
    Just a few things that in my opinion make them unsuitable for survival in more temperate areas:

    1. They are not nearly as selective when it comes to nesting sites, and in fact will readily build open air hives. The sites they select tend to suit their needs in warmer climates but would be detrimental to their survival in colder climates. The one exception to this is that they do tend to get into small structural cavities where they are well inside the climate controlled living space.

    2. They swarm 6-7 time per year well into the late summer and early fall. While this works well for them in warmer areas, this behavior in northern areas will all but lead to certain demise of many of the swarms and possibly the mother colony.

    3. If they put up large stores during the main flow, they seem to continue to use resources raising large amounts of brood (both worker and drone) well into the fall and even into the winter months. Once again this works ok for warmer areas where there are flows off and on year round, but in northern areas it will lead to over utilization of their resources and they will starve out before winter is over.

    4. In areas where resources are more scattered, they will readily abscond from place to place "chasing flows" so to speak and keeping their colony size "lean and mean". This strategy won't work well at all in colder areas since they never build up adequate resources to overwinter on.

    Even without consideration of their less efficient clustering, they are clearly not well suited to colder areas, and, IMO there will definitely be a demarcation line that will develop. However, given that they are surviving in some surprisingly cold areas and struggling in some fairly warm areas, the path that the line takes, IMO will be a little more complex than just temperature isotherms or even a Lat/Long delineation. Clearly there are other factors besides their inefficient clustering ability involved. One point that should not be overlooked is that even their transient presence north of the line during the summer months will necessitate changes in management practices for beekeepers in those areas.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  15. #135
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilV View Post
    However, I know some beekeepers much to the north (in east-central Oklahoma) who have an ongoing problem with AHB taking over their EHB hives. So far, they have not been found in Tulsa County, but they do seem to be doing well in southeastern Oklahoma.
    On what information are you basing this statement? If it's the maps we have been discussing I believe that your statement is false. The maps we have been discussing are showing a county positive for AHB even though only one hive was found and it was destroyed or died out on its own. These maps do not show SUSTAINED AHB survival trends, only the occurence of as few as one AHB positive hive.

    One AHB swarm could set up shop in a cardboard box on the back of a truck bound for Ohio this evening from southern Texas. This box could be unloaded with a forklift and because it was a small hive that just swarmed, not yet be very defensive. A week later when workers opened the box and discovered the bees we would have a county confirmed positive for AHB in Ohio. Even though the swarm would never survive and didn't throw any other swarms that could survive the winter, the criterion for these maps would be met. It could happen that easily. Then the press and goverment would take that opportunity to sensationalize it on the evening news. This is not all that far-fetched.

    What ever happened to the African stock imported to the US in the 1800s and as late as the 1950s with the approval of or by our gov't? Where did those bees go? Were they all exterminated? Nobody seems to be asking or answering these questions.

    I have traveled throughout South America on business and there are not scares about AHB. There aren't people dying everyday from AHB. AHB are not chasing people through the streets of Brazil. In all of my travels down there I've not even heard mention of AHB. In short, the arrival of AHB in the US has not been that big of an event. People and beekeepers in sustained AHB areas are coping just fine. Life will go on.
    When you stop learning you're dead.

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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    They aren't chasing people thru the streets of Brazil because there is not urban or suburban hobby beekeeping there as we know it due to AHB. Check out the Thomas post on Honduras as well as the basic Delaplane First lessons book. Delaplane is one of the best for brevity and accuracy. Once you get deeper into Brazil and start dealing with bees you will hear many many stories of people dealing with aggressive colonies.
    Last edited by JBG; 08-20-2009 at 12:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    From
    http://www.physorg.com/news169743053.html

    "Honey bees respond aggressively only if their hive is disturbed. But when disturbed they mount a vigorous defense - the all too familiar bee sting. The researchers observed that changes that occur in the brain of a European honey bee after it is exposed to alarm pheromone (a chemical signal that the hive is in danger) look a lot like the more gradual changes that occur over the bee's lifetime. (Old bees are more aggressive than young bees.)

    Even more striking was the finding of a very similar pattern of brain gene expression in Africanized honey bees. In terms of brain gene expression, Africanized bees "look" like they were just exposed to a whiff of alarm pheromone, even though they weren't."

  18. #138
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Marlin, Texas
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    What a great thread! One problem...

    I've always made great sport of entomologists. Now I'm going to have to apologize to a bunch of them.

    Walt
    "Having Fun with Nature"
    www.rgf-tx.com

  19. #139
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    May 2009
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    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Weitzel View Post
    Just a few things that in my opinion make them unsuitable for survival in more temperate areas:

    Even without consideration of their less efficient clustering, they are clearly not well suited to colder areas, and, IMO there will definitely be a demarcation line that will develop.

    However, given that they are surviving in some surprisingly cold areas and struggling in some fairly warm areas, the path that the line takes, IMO will be a little more complex than just temperature isotherms or even a Lat/Long delineation.
    Let me summarize what my understanding is concerning AHB. Much of this information is what was provided to beekeepers during the 80s concerning Ahb. Much has been done since then but I certainly have seen no studies contradicting these basic tenets.

    Just a few observations.

    The current maps showing AHB progression in the U.S.A. do not differentiate (except for the NASA map) between counties with sustainable AHB populations and an occasional confirmations; and in those instances where there is only an occasional confirmations no effort has been made to determine the source of those confirmations. Therefore the usefulness of those maps are limited, but rather local beekeepers should be more attuned to the true nature and extent of the problem as opposed to someone merely looking at those maps and trying to judge the extent of sustainable AHB expansion. Realistically, in looking at the maps dates (outside the demarcation line), it is more of a smorgasboard of confirmations, as opposed a systematic progression.

    Gene, I have backed off some of my statements concerning the cluster issue of AHB, mainly because I could not find the studies to support my contentions; but I believe they are out there, just pre-cyberspace age. During the 80s, the inability to cluster was going to be the primary limiting factor concerning progression of sustainable populations. Fact is it was the only issue that was presented. South America already had AHB which had reached the southern limits (32-34 degree) limits and this limitation was due to the failure of AHBs to cluster. The extent of cluster, if any was not discussed. However, bees consume honey (individually) to produce energy in order to produce heat. Where bees are in a tight area (cluster) more heat would be maintained with help from your neighbor. I have seen no studies showing that AHB cluster at all. But logic would seem to suggest that if these nests were in small cavities, that the brood nest area would be centralized in a smaller are, thereby possibly causing an artificial cluster, not from the genetics of the bees but more from the environment. The current references I have found regarding clustering are mentioned in passing like they don’t cluster as efficiently. Well, that could mean they don’t cluster at all to there is only a small measurable difference. My gut intuitions is that they don’t cluster at all. There is a big difference in 30F and 25F as far as survivability of a bee, and also for extended periods of cold as opposed to an occasional cold snap that doesn’t freeze, say an oak tree thru and thru. Now, certainly there are areas beyond, and within the 32-34 degree demarcation line that are affected by weather patterns and other environmental conditions (such as a 9000 foot mountain range or a desert area). So this demarcation line (as shown by the NASA map) is a variable line, but the ultimate reasons for the limitation should be the issue, and this is generally not discussed. Hence the anomaly that areas of Oklahoma show progressions, yet East Texas in my area does not. Of course the rain barrier may also be an issue, but still, I am sure it gets quite cold in Oklahoma.

    Gene’s observations are certainly factors in determining the sustainability of AHB populations, but until I see studies which refute the clustering issue, IMO, this is the biggest limiting factor.

    In addressing the last part of Gene's quote, I don't think that the maps and/or other available data show whether these confirmations of AHB, are those which have somehow survived or were only a transient anomaly.
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  20. #140
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Lake City, Texas
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    11

    Default Re: Africanized Bees - Are they really that bad?

    I am no expert in AHB or EHB and I am new to beekeeping, but I live in San Patricio one of the earliest counties to have AHB populations. From my experience of living here, and now having EHB hives, I don't really see the problem of having my EU hives taken over by AHB. I monitor my queens and will replace them every two years or sooner if I find she has been replaced. AF bees are here to stay like it or not. I hope that the reseach is valid that the bees will not tollerate cold. We beeks in the south will need you beeks in the north to provide us with "clean queens." So let's assume that they will spread into the colder wetter climates and adapt, what should we do as beeks? We need good hive management skills and solid research. To protect our EU stock, every aspect of queen rearing needs to be strickly controled and monitored. Genetic testing is a for sure way to identify and to keep the stock pure if you will.

    Or, we can incorporate AHB genetics into our existing hives. In other words, if you can beat them, join them. Destroy the most aggressive hives and keep the calmer ones. Encourage more bee keeping and more hives. Encourrage beekeepers to become better educated by obtaining their Master Beekeeper certification. We need more educational institutions willing to offer these courses and maybe an online or outreach certification program.

    If there is any good news about AHB it is that they seem more disease resistant. That was the goal in South America in the 1950's right? see http://kelab.tamu.edu/standard/Honeybees/ This research is a bit dated, but is it still valid? If it is, maybe we can use AHB to our advantage.

    Feel free to tear this apart, I have thick skin!

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