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  1. #1
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    Default What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    I'm sure this varies by region, but are there any estimates of US hives, what percent of hives are feral and what percent of hives are kept? Thanks for your insights.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    There is no way of counting the feral's.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    When you consider the disparity between those collecting ferals who find them everywhere, and the "experts" who claim the are no ferals, I think it is safe to say that no one really knows. Tom Seeley who has been tracking the feral bees in Arnot forest for several decades now (since at least the 70s) says the density has remained basically the same and has put a density number on that (which I don't have handy right now). My guess is there are far more feral bees than domestic.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Gee, I would have guessed just the opposite. But, I guess there are a lot of places where people don't look which may have bees. So, maybe Michael is right.

    Michael, wasn't it something like X feral colonies per 10 acres, or 100 acres? Let me see if I can get Tom to answer.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  5. #5
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    I don't clearly remember either the number nor the terms. I'm pretty sure it wasn't furlongs per fortnight or in hides or ferrels, but it was something like colonies per sq mi or something like that.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    There is no way of counting the feral's.
    Sort of presumptive, wouldn't you say? No way? Good thing other people don't stop at that point. The following claims that feral populations are "quite low" -- this is in Australia where conditions for bees to live in the wild are excellent. There are no varroa, by the way.

    In agricultural settings, we need to know if the density of feral bee colonies is sufficient to provide adequate pollination. In conservation areas, we would like to know if the density of feral colonies is sufficient to be of concern.

    Directly counting the number of honey bee colonies in the environment over broad scales is not often feasible because colonies are cryptic and difficult to locate (Oldroyd et al. 1997). Here, we implement a new indirect method of estimating colony density based on microsatellite analysis of workers.

    First, our data suggest that the density of feral bees is probably insufficient to provide adequate pollination in a horticultural setting. Typical recommended stocking rates are 100200 colonies/km2 (e.g. Free 1970), whereas our estimates are <10 colonies/km2.

    We suggest that without supplementation with domestic colonies, it is unlikely that any crops requiring insect pollination are adequately pollinated.

    Second, concerns about the impacts of feral honey bee colonies on natural ecosystems (Goulson 2003) are likely to be unfounded in most areas because the density of feral colonies is quite low.
    SOURCE
    Arundel, J., Oxley, P. R., Faiz, A., Crawford, J., Winter, S., & Oldroyd, B. P. (2014). Remarkable uniformity in the densities of feral honey bee Apis mellifera Linnaeus, 1758 (Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies in South Eastern Australia. Austral Entomology.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Apx 60% are kept hives, and 96 % of all statistics are made up on the spot

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Not if read on the internet Harley? Harley, har, har.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  9. #9
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Obviously, bee population varies with geographic regions. It seems to me that in deep east Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas my friends are always talking about bee swarms. There's a beekeeper in South Louisiana that catches 30 swarms a year and resells them. I can't remember his name, but he was once a member of this forum.

    On the other hand, arid West and South Texas are both short on water and blooms. I'm sure the feral bee population is low in such areas.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Looks like .5 feral colonies per km squared in rural forested area and 2.3 feral colonies in urban area buildings, across NY State, Vischer and Seeley 1982, Morse et al 1990.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  11. #11
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    In 13 years of living here I've seen two swarms. There was two bee trees that I knew of but one died out this year.

    I don't believe there are many ferrels near me.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Looks like .5 feral colonies per km squared in rural forested area and 2.3 feral colonies in urban area buildings, across NY State, Vischer and Seeley 1982, Morse et al 1990.
    Mark and I have a table published in the Canadian Entomologist. Unfortunately it lists density per square kilometer but its good for comparison. As Mark says, the density was almost five times as high in a small city than in the rural forest.

    There are 2.5 square km in a square mile, so you can multiply the figures to get colonies per square mile. 2.3 x 2.5 = 5.75 or almost six colonies per square mile in an urban area in 1991.

    Other figures are

    Russia forests, .41 per km2, or one per square mile.

    Arizona desert, up to 13 per square mile. Similar concentration in Brazil. Both African bees.

    Mexico, as high as 22 per square mile, but again: African bees.

    Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California had a very low density: less than one per square mile. European bees, perhaps very old introduction.

    PLB

  13. #13
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by lazy shooter View Post
    Obviously, bee population varies with geographic regions.
    I keep telling my bees, if they swarm off and leave my apiary, they WILL die... and do you think they listen!! LOL
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    I keep telling my bees, if they swarm off and leave my apiary, they WILL die... and do you think they listen!! LOL
    Haha.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Here's something to ponder. We have established that there are likely more feral colonies than there are managed colonies by a factor of two to one in areas where bees are kept and bees can survive.
    Well, no, I don't think that's right. I think we saw that in areas of European bees, there may be 2 or 3 ferals per square mile (NYS study, pre varroa) but at least 100 colonies per square mile in good honey producing regions (Oldroyd). Even in areas with African bees, that density is seldom seen, topping out at 22 colonies per mile2 in southern Mexico.

    Let's say 10 percent of those 100 managed hives swarmed. (That would be a high number for most beekeepers). Tom Seeley estimated that only 1/4 of the swarms would survive the first year, leaving us with 2.5 colonies, exactly the number they discovered when they canvased Oswego, NY for swarms pre varroa.

    In areas where bees are kept commercially, kept hives vastly outnumber wild hives. So far as wild bees being able to pollinate crops, that's nonsense. Honey bees are by far the most reliable pollinators. Wild bee populations fluctuate from year to year and from season to season. They are very sensitive to environmental disturbance and pesticides.

    To have an abundance of wild bees near an orchard, for example, would require leaving a lot of ground untilled with brush and old wood lying around. Then, if you encourage wild bees to move close to the orchard, you end up killing them with pesticides.

    Here's a scenario I have thought of: let's force farmers to leave trash heaps for wild bees to nest in. Then find some obscure wild bee and put her on the endangered species list. Now the farmer can't touch the trash heap nor spray his crop. Radical environmentalists can have a party, pop open some organic beer and they'd be laughing.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    Well, no, I don't think that's right. I think we saw that in areas of European bees, there may be 2 or 3 ferals per square mile (NYS study, pre varroa) but at least 100 colonies per square mile in good honey producing regions (Oldroyd). Even in areas with African bees, that density is seldom seen, topping out at 22 colonies per mile2 in southern Mexico.

    Let's say 10 percent of those 100 managed hives swarmed. (That would be a high number for most beekeepers). Tom Seeley estimated that only 1/4 of the swarms would survive the first year, leaving us with 2.5 colonies, exactly the number they discovered when they canvased Oswego, NY for swarms pre varroa.

    In areas where bees are kept commercially, kept hives vastly outnumber wild hives. So far as wild bees being able to pollinate crops, that's nonsense. Honey bees are by far the most reliable pollinators. Wild bee populations fluctuate from year to year and from season to season. They are very sensitive to environmental disturbance and pesticides.

    To have an abundance of wild bees near an orchard, for example, would require leaving a lot of ground untilled with brush and old wood lying around. Then, if you encourage wild bees to move close to the orchard, you end up killing them with pesticides.

    Here's a scenario I have thought of: let's force farmers to leave trash heaps for wild bees to nest in. Then find some obscure wild bee and put her on the endangered species list. Now the farmer can't touch the trash heap nor spray his crop. Radical environmentalists can have a party, pop open some organic beer and they'd be laughing.
    So the numbers, the ratios, are wrong, but isn't the reality of the situation correct? That there are more managed colonies than before CCD and that ferals are probably maintaining their numbers well enough?
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  17. #17
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    there are more managed colonies than before CCD and that ferals are probably maintaining their numbers well enough?
    I think that is a correct statement, although I don't believe in CCD as a widespread phenomenon. Some guys may have had it, it was never identified as a distinct disease. Over the years there have been many bee die offs. Some were explained, some weren't. See "Disappearing Disease." It was called that because the bees disappeared but the name stuck because it seemed like whenever folks looked closely at it, the disease disappeared. Sort of like CCD. It's still around in the news media. Whenever I hear the term I regard it as a red flag that whomever is using it doesn't know what they are talking about. (Apologies to everyone out there that still uses it, but there you have it)

  18. #18
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Lucky doesn't work well in nature for very long. Lucky only works when there is a human involved and if the human stops being involve then the luck changes.
    Please reread your post.
    Luck=human involvement?
    No involvement = luck changes?
    If there is no luck without human involvement, per your wacky (IMO of course) yet luck changes when humans aren't involved then how can there be any luck to be changed without human involvement?
    Personally I don't feel there is such a thing as luck. I am guilty of using the word but it is semantics or I'm too uneducated/dim to think of another word.
    Regardless of my opinion I have to say that so many of your "prophetic" statements cause me to sit down, no matter where I am when I read them, just so I can see if there is enough time in the universe to figure out if they make any sense whatsoever. The one mentioned here is a classic.
    Thanks

  19. #19
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    then how can there be any luck to be changed without human involvement?
    Are you still sitting? Luck can be good or bad, positive or negative. Keep thinking...
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by rogman View Post
    I'm sure this varies by region, but are there any estimates of US hives, what percent of hives are feral and what percent of hives are kept? Thanks for your insights.
    By definition, wouldn't the answer be Zero? Or is rogman asking something not clearly spelled out?
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


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