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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    6,710

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    > How many managed colonies of bees per square mile are there across the US?

    Obviously, this is difficult to say for sure. The Census Bureau says in 2009 the US "managed colony count" was 2.46 million hives. However, they only count apiaries with 5 or more hives.

    The 48 contiguous states in the US total 3.11 million square miles, so the average is about 1.26 managed hives per square mile. Clearly adding in an unknown number of hobbyist hives would increase that average somewhat.


    FYI, there are 640 acres in a square mile.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    28,276

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    So, if I am doing my math correctly there are potentially approximately twice as many feral colonies in the environment as there are managed colonies. Is that about right. According to the figures provided in this Thread?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  3. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    762

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfer View Post
    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.
    You'd be surprised. While this doesn't really relate to density necessarily... I have caught four swarms this year, missed out on two others that moved on before I could get there. Also found two bee trees. Was contacted to do three or four cutouts as well (didn't do any). I hadn't seen a single swarm until this year and I've been living here for almost 30 years.

    There are plenty of bees around you, unless you live in several square miles of zero trees, zero barns, and zero buildings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    If the colony is not managed by humans than it will surely swarm, casting off what would you say 3-5 swarms? That changes the numbers by 300-500 percent. Then you can add there are parts of the state and country that are not that accessible. I should have said there is no way to get an accurate count of feral colonies. It is always changing. There is even a margin of error for counting managed colonies but it is much less.
    Yes, every swarm survives. Every baby deer becomes an adult, every duck lives to breeding age, and there is never any attrition.
    It's always changing at some rate, yes. But it's not changing by 300-500%.

    If nothing else in my first year of beekeeping... I've been convinced that there are enough bees around to 1) handily mate queens and 2) make increases by splits/swarms instead of buying packages/nucs. I purchased three packages in April/May. I have made exactly 0 splits from those packages and I now have eight colonies.
    Last edited by jwcarlson; 07-09-2014 at 10:04 AM.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    depends on the local enviroment, the density of beekeepers in the area and even then who knows.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    1,238

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    >I'm sure this varies by region,
    Yes

    >what percent of hives are feral and what percent of hives are kept?

    In my area there are not that many beek. I have 40 traps out (last year caught 20 traps and 10 swarms), once in a while I catch big bees (5.4mm) one or two last year. Those areas I know the beek where they came from
    The rest of the bees I catch are small (natural) cell bees (4.9mm), I don't measure comb but I could if I wanted to take the time.

    That would be a good way to identify if bees from a swarms or traps were kept. Kept bees will make 5.1mm comb on foundationless when first hived. You may also tell by bee weight, have to ask MB I think he posted small cell bee weight once.

    With that said you can't say that all small bees are feral, only make a guess based on the area, but you can say that all 5.4 bees were kept.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    649

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    I catch about 15 swarms a year from calls and try hard to located the parent hive that the swarms have originated from. My guestimate is that in my area > 3/4's of the swarms I catch are from feral sources. (But that doesn't necessarily mean the feral out number the managed hives, because they don't swarm at the same rates.) If I had to make a guess I would say in our local area it's about 50/50 between managed and feral.

    (Now FlowerPlanter if you go telling these folks from New York that our feral bees are small and that we can tell the difference between managed bees and feral just by their respective size here, they are going to presume we have Africanized bees here in Kansas and Missouri now! )

    Don

  7. #27
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    Aug 2011
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    KC, MO, USA
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept


  8. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    10,150

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    How do you measure the managed hive in Ca when you move them in and out? Mark are your hives counted twice? Are they New York bees or Carolina bees?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    28,276

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Who is counting? My hives are my hives where ever they are.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  10. #30
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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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. We also have more managed colonies now then we had in this Country before CCD was named. So, how can there be "devastating decline in the domestic honeybee population" as stated by Biologist Laurance Packer? The two thoughts don't balance out. Do they?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  11. #31
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
    Posts
    3,185

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    "The bees are all going Extinct, right?" - I get asked that all the time. Or maybe, "Are the bees dead yet?", and sometimes, "What will we eat when the bees all die?" Most people seem to believe these things.

    I wonder what the point is in propagating such falsehood?
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  12. #32
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    10,150

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    So, how can there be "devastating decline in the domestic honeybee population"
    Because a 30% loss for a migratory beekeeper is considered devastating while a 30% loss of feral bees is of no consequence.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Ithaca, NY USA
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    1,563

    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.

  14. #34
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    28,276

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    "a migratory beekeeper" 's losses are anecdotal, and in the overall scheme of things inconsequential, of no consequences too. That's my point. We can have both devastion w/in the whole scope of beekeeping and a better than before reality at the same time, can we?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  15. #35
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by hpm08161947 View Post
    I wonder what the point is in propagating such falsehood?
    Economic benefits.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  16. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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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
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  17. #37
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Ithaca, NY USA
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    1,563

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Because a 30% loss for a migratory beekeeper is considered devastating while a 30% loss of feral bees is of no consequence.
    This is a myth, repeated over and over and over. Beekeepers have lost 30 to 50 percent of their hives for hundreds of years. If you lose 50% all you have to do is split the remaining hives in two and you are right back where you were. Last year I did five from one splits and they built up in about six weeks. I have helped beekeepers make ten from one splits on many occasions.

    The reason why the 30% figure comes up and is compared to the old 15% figure (we lose twice as many hives) is because of a change in practice. Fifty years ago beekeepers were mostly running for honey production. In the fall they culled about 15% because they knew these wouldn't overwinter. Then add 15% losses due to winter, and you see the spring count may be down 30% from the summer count after all, but it isn't counted that way.

    Nowadays, since spring pollination is so important a source of income, beekeepers cull far few hives in fall, gambling on them to make it through if the winter is mild, so their statistical losses tend to appear higher. Speaking of statistics, the number of colonies in the US over 100 years actually has NOT DECLINED. A hundred years ago there were about 3 million and there still are.

    There was a peak during WW II due the demand for beeswax production. The government encouraged beekeepers to double the number of colonies to 6 million and the price of honey was high due to shortages of sugar. After the war, the price collapsed and beekeepers were letting the numbers fall. They lobbied hard for government subsidies to save a collapsing industry, claiming the nation's crops would not get pollinated.

    They claimed if the numbers went from 6 million to 5 or even 4 million, crop failures would occur. Well, we are down to 3 million and no crop failures ever occurred. In fact, the lower number of available hives has driven the price of pollination from about $15 twenty years ago to as high as $200 in almonds. But most people don't know about this stuff, don't know anything about history, or the mechanics of beekeeping.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Ithaca, NY USA
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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)

  19. #39
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    Jan 2010
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    Ithaca, NY USA
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    "The bees are all going Extinct, right?" - I get asked that all the time. Or maybe, "Are the bees dead yet?", and sometimes, "What will we eat when the bees all die?" Most people seem to believe these things. I wonder what the point is in propagating such falsehood?
    I'll tell you: a lot of organizations have picked up on this because if they say "save the bees, send money" people send them money. Organizations like GreenPeace, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth. Do you think any of the money goes to helping bees? I don't. I think it goes to salaries, advertising campaigns and other pet projects.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,624

    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    I'll tell you: a lot of organizations have picked up on this because if they say "save the bees, send money" people send them money. Organizations like GreenPeace, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth. Do you think any of the money goes to helping bees? I don't. I think it goes to salaries, advertising campaigns and other pet projects.
    Ahhhhh, were it only them. One also needs to look within as well. Losses=Presidential Task Forces=Federal Funding
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

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