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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Crenshaw County, Alabama
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    1,897

    Default Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    This is definitely a limited observation in south central Alabama...

    Naturally, being interested in honey bees I tend to check out blooming plants for honey bees foraging on them. I recently went by a Home Depot in Montgomery, Alabama and Lowes in Troy, Alabama and visited the garden centers of both stores. I did not see the first honey bee on any of the thousands of blooms there. Of course I didn't look at all the blooms but I searched around with the idea of purchasing flowers that I saw honey bees working. The only thing I saw was some lonely bumble bees. I've also noticed at a couple of the "local" Walmarts a definite lack of honey bees on the blooms there.

    Are these plants simply not attractive to honey bees or maybe not producing nectar in their potted states? I will say that they last time I checked that a flow was going on. The flow has just about come to a halt now so next time I'm at one of the stores I will check again to see if the bees are having to "take what they can get".

    Is it that there's simply better forage for them out there??? Or, sadly, simply no bees???

    Ed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Imperial, MO, USA
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    My guess would be that the big box store's "forage" is temporary and changes daily... new plants get brought in, displays get moved, inventory gets sold - - all on a daily basis or multiple times per week.... so it may be more difficult for the bees to repeatedly "discover" attractive blooms there and communicate its' presence to the rest of the colony - and therefore less of an attraction than other forage alternatives.
    "Teach your kids to hunt and fish, and you won't have to hunt for your kids"
    Four Ridge Apiaries www.fourridgebees.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,033

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Not my guess ... I believe that these plants have every conceivable chemical on them and in them that makes them undesirable if not deadly.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Limstone county, Alabama
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    It may be that they just don't have anything that attracts honeybees right now. We have a Lowes, Homedepot, and two locally owned nursery/garden centers close to home. I see honeybees at all of the locations certain times of the year. I usually see more in the mid to late Summer, and during the early Fall. In fact I've made several flower purchases based on the activity I've seen. I was purchasing blueberries from a nursery about 1/4 of a mile from my house early this Spring, and the clerk commented on how many bees they had in their greenhouse. I just smiled and asked him to be nice to them 'cause they were probably mine.
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work" -- Thomas A. Edison

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    778

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    My guess is that many of the flowers/plants are either hybrid/GMO/pesticided and the bees may not like them as well as ones which exist in nature untampered.

    I'm not saying bees never forage on plants which are victimized by "science", but they have other options.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Intheswamp, I did the exact same thing last year and saw HB's on salvia, gaillardia and something else I can't remember.
    This year I've noticed the same as you: no HB's or even BB's anywhere at Lowes or HD. I suspect it's just as the other poster mentioned, the turnover is very quick and there probably isn't enough of it to draw the bees in if there's a field of something more enticing blooming.
    Plus, I've noticed more and more flowers are the "double-flowered" type and these are not generally good for any pollinators as the second row of petals are derived from the plant's reproductive parts (read that somehwere...) and thus provide almost no nectar or pollen.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    nashville tn usa
    Posts
    222

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    They have better things to do at this time. Wait till late summer and fall....they will be there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, Calif. USA
    Posts
    272

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Quote Originally Posted by Intheswamp View Post
    I did not see the first honey bee on any of the thousands of blooms there.
    Did you fail to see honey bees working flowers that normally attract them such as escallonia, lavender and salvia? In order to make a case that there might be something "faulty" with the flowering plants for sale at Home Depot you would have to show honeybees are actively working those same species of plants in the neighborhoods surrounding Home Depot.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, Calif. USA
    Posts
    272

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Not my guess ... I believe that these plants have every conceivable chemical on them and in them that makes them undesirable if not deadly.
    Quote Originally Posted by PatBeek View Post
    My guess is that many of the flowers/plants are either hybrid/GMO/pesticided and the bees may not like them as well as ones which exist in nature untampered.
    I visited the local Home Depot this afternoon in Placerville, California (40 miles east of Sacramento) and
    found lots of honeybees visiting the potted lavender, escallonia and salvia flowers that were for sale as
    you can see here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25jMXpt9OWU

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Limestone Co, Alabama
    Posts
    1,674

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDiamond View Post
    Did you fail to see honey bees working flowers that normally attract them...
    I suspect that a bag of peanuts in the middle of a twenty acre patch of asphalt would be as safe from the attention of elephants as would a van load of flowers be safe from the attention of bees if they were in most Lows‘ parking lots.
    Last edited by Scrapfe; 05-22-2012 at 08:49 PM.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    874

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    I saw some Honey bees working some purple flowers at my local Home Depot. So I bought them, and brought them home. My bees wont touch them.
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Cameron, Texas, USA
    Posts
    99

    Thumbs Up Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Sad, but true not enough bees! No chemicals, no pesticides, no boogie man, just that the bees have enough invader mites and shb to keep the wild pop at a poor level. I/we used a lot stronger pesticides in the past and the bees did fine. I live in the heart of used to be bee country, but the native pop to include the africanized bee is next to nil. We must and will breed mite tolerant and the disease tolerant bees into the local pop and hopefully it will work in our favor.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Bedford, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Probably just something better in bloom.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Starkville, MS
    Posts
    300

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Guys, look at it this way. Are there any hives within range of the stores u have visited. I do the same thing when I go to Lowe's. The Lowe's in Philadelphia, MS is especially nice because one of our forum members has 40 to 60 hives just a few hundred yards away. I pick perrenials that I see them working. Just my two cents, with the decline of HB populations worldwide, what are the odds that there is a hive within range of a big box store like Lowe's in a city that is large enough to support it.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    I think also something which is missed is bees don't wander around looking for flowers. Scouts are sent out to look and report back with the complex dancing which tells them quantity, distance and direction. Why would a hive go to HD when they can go to a 20 acre field getting ready for summer harvest.

    Foragers communicate their floral findings in order to recruit other worker bees of the hive to forage in the same area. The factors that determine recruiting success are not completely known but probably include evaluations of the quality of nectar and/or pollen brought in.

    There are two main hypotheses to explain how foragers recruit other workers the "waggle dance" or "dance language" theory and the "odor plume" theory. The dance language theory is far more widely accepted, and has far more empirical support. The theories also differ in that the former allows for an important role of odor in recruitment (i.e., effective recruitment relies on dance plus odor), while the latter claims that the dance is essentially irrelevant (recruitment relies on odor alone).
    The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee.ogv
    The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee

    It has long been known that successfully foraging Western honey bees perform a dance on their return to the hive, known as waggle dance, indicating that food is farther away, while the round dance is a short version of the waggle dance, indicating that food is nearby. The laden forager dances on the comb in a circular pattern, occasionally crossing the circle in a zig-zag or waggle pattern. Aristotle described this behaviour in his Historia Animalium. It was thought to attract the attention of other bees.

    In 1947,[citation needed] Karl von Frisch correlated the runs and turns of the dance to the distance and direction of the food source from the hive. The orientation of the dance correlates to the relative position of the sun to the food source, and the length of the waggle portion of the run is correlated to the distance from the hive. Also, the more vigorous the display is, the better the food. There is no evidence that this form of communication depends on individual learning.

    Von Frisch performed a series of experiments to validate his theory.[7] He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973 for his discoveries.

    One of the most important lines of evidence on the origin and utility of the dance is that all of the known species and races of honey bees exhibit the behavior, but details of its execution vary among the different species. For example, in Apis florea and Apis andreniformis (the "dwarf honeybees") the dance is performed on the dorsal, horizontal portion of the nest, which is exposed. The runs and dances point directly toward the resource in these species. Each honey bee species has a characteristically different correlation of "waggling" to distance, as well.[8] Such species-specific behavior suggests that this form of communication does not depend on learning but is rather determined genetically. It also suggests how the dance may have evolved.

    Various experiments document that changes in the conditions under which the dance is performed lead to characteristic changes in recruitment to external resources,[9] in a manner consistent with von Frisch's original conclusions. Researchers have also discovered other forms of honeybee dance communication, such as the tremble dance.
    Odor plume

    While the majority of researchers believe that bee dances give enough information to locate resources, proponents of the odor plume theory argue that the dance gives no actual guidance to a nectar source. They argue that bees instead are primarily recruited by odor. The purpose of the dance is simply to gain attention to the returning worker bee so she can share the odor of the nectar with other workers who will then follow the odor trail to the source.

    The primary lines of evidence used by the odor plume advocates are

    clinical experiments with odorless sugar sources which show that worker bees are unable to recruit to those sources[citation needed] and
    logical difficulties of a small-scale dance (a few centimeters across) giving directions precise enough to hold the other bees on course during a flight that could be several kilometers long. Misreading by even a few degrees would lead the bee off course by hundreds of meters at the far end.[citation needed]

    Neither of these points invalidate the dance theory, but simply suggest that odor might be involved, which is indeed conceded by all proponents of dance theory. Critics of the odor plume theory counter that most natural nectar sources are relatively large - orchards or entire fields. Precision may not be necessary or even desirable. They have also challenged the reproducibility of the odorless source experiment.

    Significant to the argument are the elegant experiments of William F. Towne, of the Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, such as this pdf file, in which hives are moved to "mirror image" terrain settings, and thus fooled into both dancing about the wrong location for a nectar source, and successfully recruiting foragers to that wrong location, but only when the sun is obscured by clouds, forcing them to rely on terrain-based navigation rather than "solar ephemeris" based navigation. As the cloud cover breaks up, more and more bees correct their dances to indicate the actual location of nectar, and forager visits shift to the correct location.

    The academic debate between these two theories is extremely polarized and often hostile. See here for an overview. Adrian Wenner, a modern bee researcher, is the chief proponent of the odor plume theory (anti-dance). One supporter of Wenner's theories, Julian O'Dea, has proposed an evolutionary explanation for the "waggle dance" that does not involve communication from one bee to another, by claiming it may be a simple idiothetic movement that conveys no information [1]. Conversely, experiments with robotic dummies were indeed able to induce some recruitment,[10] which should not have been possible if the dance contains no information.

    An article in the 18 September 2009 issue of New Scientist sets out evidence against the use by bees of the information in the dance [2].

    The controversy persists, though it does so primarily due to an asymmetry between the two "camps"; those who study dance communication freely admit that odor is an essential component of the system, and even necessary at various stages of the recruitment process, including once a recruited forager reaches the vicinity of the resource (e.g.[11]), while odor-plume advocates do not acknowledge that the dance contains any information whatsoever. Various experimental results demonstrate that the dance does convey information, but the use of this information may be context-dependent (e.g.[12]), and this may explain why the results of earlier studies were inconsistent. In essence, both sides of the "controversy" agree that odor is used in recruitment to resources, but they differ strongly in opinion as to the information content of the dance.

    Odor learning is usually tested by a method called the proboscis extension reflex.

    Note: much of the research on the two competing hypotheses of communication has been restricted to Western honey bees (see the work of F.C. Dyer [3] though). Other species of Apis use variants on the same theme, and other types of bees use other methods altogether.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, Calif. USA
    Posts
    272

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Quote Originally Posted by casinoken View Post
    with the decline of HB populations worldwide
    The decline is a myth: http://community.lsoft.com/scripts/w...F=&S=&P=227429

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    i always ASSUMED it was because of the overhead (via handheld sprinkler wands) watering washed the nectar from the flowers. BUT I AM NOT A SCIENTIST OR ENGINEER OR A BOOK AUTHOR so many here will say i'm wrong. and no, i dont stay in Holiday Inns.
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Lavaca county, Texas
    Posts
    497

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Two main issues here:

    1.) Cides, aka herbicides and pesticides.

    2.) Most (unless it's a "native" nursery) plant centers are geared to planting the "latest and greatest" hybrids and GMOs. The vast majority of these are self pollinating, and offer no forage to bees whatsoever.

    Oddly enough these two problems may also be a factor in the decline of feral bee populations. But what do I know?

    Summer

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dunlap, TN, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueDiamond View Post
    This study is only on kept colonies though, right? I would like to see studies done on feral bee populations.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, Calif. USA
    Posts
    272

    Default Re: Absence of honey bees at garden centers...??

    I checked out the local Walmart Garden Center today (Placerville, Calif. east of Sacramento) and noticed bees even in the mostly enclosed part of the center: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foWHFQenWzc

    About 10 days ago I had filmed them in the local Home Depot Garden Center:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25jMXpt9OWU

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