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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    rensselaer, ny, USA
    Posts
    463

    Default Would a survey like this be useful?

    I was thinking of doing a survey of the location of all managed hives in my area, and then trying to locate any free-living, or unmanaged colonies to determine the density of the "feral" honey bee population. There are a few hobby beeks, and one small-scale sideliner within two miles of me. I doubt anybody has any "secret honey yards" so I don't expect resistance around that issue. And I do know of at least two multi-year-long occupations of bee trees and I have heard tales of additional ones.

    My own three hives were all 2013 swarms to long-occupied (nearly 20 years) cavities in my barns. Until I started to pay attention last summer I had assumed that the colonies in the barns were continuously the same (or descendants of) bees, but perhaps not as last year there were no survivors in the cavities until the three new swarms arrived.

    What I am interested in learning is the saturation in my area of "feral"/unmanaged bee colonies and the types of bees that beekeepers are managing.

    If I draw a circle that encompasses all the known managed colonies and then draw a second circle beyond that, how much wider would that circle need to be? How big a water obstacle would the bees willingly cross if they had forage on their own side?

    Does anybody know of any studies or previous surveys like this?

    It seems to me that forging a TF path is somewhat dependent on having the majority, or at least more TF bees, vs a prepondereance of treated (or bred to be treated) bees.

    This is still a relatively rural/farming/hunting area so there are lots of people out and about on the land. We have our farm in a QDMA co-op that covers more than 5K roughly contiguous acres (and thousands more in small infill holdings), so I could perhaps enlist some of my fellow co-op members in identifying bee-trees that they know of.

    Any suggestions? A foolish notion?

    Enj.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    746

    Default Re: Would a survey like this be useful?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I was thinking of doing a survey of the location of all managed hives in my area, and then trying to locate any free-living, or unmanaged colonies to determine the density of the "feral" honey bee population. Does anybody know of any studies or previous surveys like this?
    Dr. Debbie Delaney was part of a feral mapping project
    http://www.savethehives.com/
    There may be others, but this is a start
    karla

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
    Posts
    1,162

    Default Re: Would a survey like this be useful?

    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Would a survey like this be useful?

    Thomas D Seeley presented information at the EAS Conference on feral hives he mapped and studied over a ten year period. I found it really interesting the parts that he mentioned about hive spacing (approx .5 miles apart), very similar amounts of hives were present each year in the forest he mapped, and the average height of a natural hive is about 30 feet up! A very fascinating part of his presentation was his mentioning on how to track feral hives using the box method to track bees!

    Thomas Seeley's box method:
    Place small boxes out in and around your area with small amounts of honey in them. Return to the boxes during a favorable part of the day in which bees will be out and about, and check to see if any have "found" your honey box. If no bees, try another location and another location. If bees are eating from your honey box, watch the direction they are flying off at, and then close the box with bees in it and walk 100 feet in the direction you saw them fly home in and open the box. Wait about a half hour and repeat until you find the feral hive!

    Thanks Mr. Seeley for the wonderful presentation!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    rensselaer, ny, USA
    Posts
    463

    Default Re: Would a survey like this be useful?

    Thanks for replies and resources! Tom Seeley's work is in the same state though more than 125 miles away in south central NY, while I am a bit farther north in extreme eastern NY, close to the border with VT. Though we would have a lot of similarities in terrain, vegetation, and depending on the logging history of the Arnot Forest, perhaps somewhat similar human-use history.

    I am just curious about the "native" (in a manner of speaking) level of feral honey bees, in my area. It was very surprising last spring when scarcely had I absorbed the fact that all my long-term unmanged bees living in the barn had simply disappeared that two more swarms arrived and claimed their cavities. Before the cut-out workshop could get itself scheduled, a third swarm arrived. I used to kid the owners of the bee-supply place that they were trying to increase sales by dumping the odd swarm out at the end of my driveway. It will be very interesting to see what happens at these highly-attractive sites this year.

    And for SQCRK (although I was notified of your comment, it seems to have disappeared from this thread), a QDMA Co-Op stands for Quality Deer Management Association, a way some landowners are joining together to manage the deer herd for better deer health, reduced agricultural and forest damage and improved hunting quality. We are not hunters, however, so our farm is a sanctuary area within the co-op's committed properties. I am told that the QDMA movement is very popular in hunting circles; more info here:
    http://www.qdma.com. My husband is at our local co-op's winter meeting right now and is planning enlist the members to help identify feral bees sites they may know about.

    Enj.

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