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  1. #41
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Peter/Jim:

    You're talking like a couple of pesticide apologists. As for your own views on the Friends of the Earth campaign, and the Presidential Task Force, I couldn't disagree more. They're necessary to pollinator conservation in the U.S. .

    My own views on %ages of feral versus managed Honeybee colonies is that it's on the increase, but we just don't have reliable figures as of yet. So, I think it's safe to say that feral population numbers are recovering, but we don't have enough information about the strains of Honeybees involved.

  2. #42
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    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.
    Ostriches are happy birds, I heard.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  3. #43
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    Peter/Jim: You're talking like a couple of pesticide apologists.
    I would like to think that name calling would be beneath you, but I guess I would be wrong about that.

    Bottom line from my point of view is that things are hardly ever as bad as anyone thinks they are, especially as much as what someone selling a book wants you to think how bad things are or are going to be. Fear motivates people to do things they otherwise wouldn't. Such as buy books by someone who may not know as much as they should before writing a book.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  4. #44
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Mark, if they want to editorialize, there's another thread on the topic.

    I still don't think that anyone anywhere has a handle on the topic of this thread.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    There are alot of ferals here but who cares to study that? It would be to much money to get a rough estimate on the numbers of feral colonies. I think in some areas they are doing fine but there are hundreds if not thousands of conditions that can effect the local population of ferals.

    Nobody for sure knows. What might be booming here could be dying out 3 counties over.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    The only numbers I've seen, and I don't know how reliable they are or how recent, show a steady decline in feral bees, but it's the same decline as all wildlife. Loss of habitat, use of pesticides, use of herbacides, new diseases affect deer, quail, pheasants and prairie chickens, and also bees... but as yet all of those creatures are still surviving and sometimes thriving in spite of things.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #47
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    There are alot of ferals here but who cares to study that? It would be to much money to get a rough estimate on the numbers of feral colonies. I
    Actually, a lot of good people are working on it. Debbie Delaney, Steve Sheppard, Roxane Magnus, Tom Seeley, to name a few.

    SEE:

    Delaney, D. A. (2008). Genetic characterization of US honey bee populations (Doctoral dissertation, Washington State University).

    Magnus, R. M., Tripodi, A. D., & Szalanski, A. L. (2014). Mitochondrial DNA Diversity of Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) from Unmanaged Colonies and Swarms in the United States. Biochemical genetics, 52(5-6), 245-257.

    etc

    As I mentioned earlier, one way of determining the number of feral colonies is by looking at the genetic diversity of the colonies. In areas where there are a lot of ferals, the drone population will be more diverse than in areas where there are mostly commercial. Through genetic tests, you can tell whether a given colony was mated with homogenous (very similar) stock or heterogenous (very diverse). Additionally, the presence of alleles (genes) of rare types such as A. m. m., indicate less homogeneity.

  8. #48
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    but as yet all of those creatures are still surviving and sometimes thriving in spite of things.
    Right. Ironically, wild creatures often fare better in the suburbs than in the wild. Our area is overrun by deer; we have foxes, racoons, wild turkeys, possums, all trotting about the neighborhood. Some of the sprawling cities of the Southwest are home to thousands of "feral bees." These are mostly African bees, though.

  9. #49
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    here is a snip from Roxane's work, which shows not only that people are looking at this but they are thinking about the potential benefit that could be gained by incorporating feral breeding stock into beekeeper's colonies.

    Through DNA sequence analysis of a mtDNA marker, we have identified distinct
    lineages in unmanaged colonies of honey bees in the United States that do not occur
    in managed colonies. This provides evidence that these lineages are not recent
    descendants from managed honey bee populations, and that they have been
    surviving as feral populations for a period of time, independent of managed populations.

    Studies have revealed that feral honey bee populations have traits that
    differ from managed honey bee populations. Atmowidjojo et al. (1997) found that
    feral honey bee colonies in Arizona were more tolerant of high temperatures than
    managed colonies. DNA sequencing of the mtDNA COI–COII marker could be
    used to identify feral honey bee lineages that could be studied, once established in
    managed apiaries, to determine if they possess any traits that are beneficial for
    beekeepers.

  10. #50
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    I think that you're addressing a different question than that of the thread topic.

    For instance, we both have BeeWeavers, and we both have 'hybrid swarm' (feral) genetics.

    I don't think that we know the current density of feral colonies in Texas.

    However, do know more about their genetics because of the investigators you've cited.

  11. #51
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    I think that you're addressing a different question than that of the thread topic
    No. I quoted Ben Oldroyd's methodology:

    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.
    One way to determine the number of feral vs domestic is by the method above. Using the genetic breakdown to infer the population that is producing that particular genetic makeum. It is an indirect method but most of science these days is based upon indirect measurements

  12. #52
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    I'll take you one further. Most USDA Statistics come from self reporting based on whatever the person being asked wants to tell the questioner. I tell the person asking the questions that I am going to lie to them right from the get go, because I don't know. I don't keep the records that they want answers on. Am I the only one?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  13. #53
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    The USDA also sends out a multi page form to categorize the your fields of agriculture. It is a long, and difficult form, if they pull their stats from that form there is plenty of room for error. It looks like a form for large corporate farms, the ones that have a full time bookkeeper and comptroller. It is way too complicated for us of the "great unwashed to fill out correctly." Let's just say, I fill it out.

  14. #54
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Yes, well, I used to but not any more. I have changed from thinking that government can be an instrument for good (which it can, of course) to one who has seen government lackies screw up everything they touch. Not to mention the whole government eavesdropping on everybody's conversations. Whatever they are asking, they probably already know. It's just that they are so paranoid they won't share information even among themselves.

  15. #55
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    to the op, i think the answer is like most regarding bees and beekeeping, and that is 'it depends'.

    in my area there are likely many times more feral colonies than mangaged colonies.

    i base that conclusion on the fact that almost all of the bee operations around here are relatively small, i.e. very few over 20 colonies, and two thirds of the landscape in this county is wooded.

    this is likely similar for many of the surrounding counties in most of the surrounding states.

    as was pointed out, it's a difficult proposition to locate and quantify feral colonies, but it's reasonable to assume that they will be more concentrated in areas where the habitat allows them to be.

    i find it interesting that delaney and magnus have found a significant proportion of 'm' and 'o' matriarchal lines among the feral survivors they have studied. of course these have been highly hybridized over the years with all of the commercially produce lines that we have introduced.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #56
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    I'm not sure how politics is getting into how surveys are run...

    But, there is a national field survey underway.

    The only reliable way to answer the OP's question is to run a large scale field survey.

    They can ascertain it's reliability with statistical analysis.

    These surveys don't happen too often, and I haven't heard of one that can specifically answer the feral/managed Honeybee population in the U.S. .

    However, after everything that has been said on this thread, it is precisely the type of question that the presidential task force can find the answers for should it choose to do so.

    A national Honeybee field survey needs to be done by a 'national' body or task force.

    Get it fellas?

    You need big brother.
    Last edited by WLC; 07-11-2014 at 10:53 AM.

  17. #57
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    However, after everything that has been said on this thread, it is precisely the type of question that the presidential task force can find the answers for should it choose to do so.


    i've sent out a 'suggestion' or two in that regard. if we do indeed have bees that have developed natural resistance to mites ect., seems like that would be the best place to look for survivor stock.

    my understanding is that where that has been tried in the past, the bees haven't performed well when introduced into managed apiaries. with so many variables at play, that doesn't surprise me. what does surprise me is the reaching of the conclusion that it doesn't work, and no attempt to try to understand why not.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #58
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Anyone who thinks the presidential task force is anything more than another way for some cronies to filter tax dollars from the few tax payers that are left footing the bill is silly.

    There won't be any benefit to anyone except those getting paid a salary by them. I can't wait for the "Bees Created or Saved" report so we all know how successful and helpful another "task force" has been.

  19. #59
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    Anyone who thinks the presidential task force is anything more than another way for some cronies to filter tax dollars from the few tax payers that are left footing the bill is silly.
    perhaps. i'm willing to withhold judgement until we see what the outcome is. some of the key players are objective enough that we just might learn something. silly is as silly does.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #60
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    Default Re: What Percent of Hives Are Feral vs Kept

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post


    i've sent out a 'suggestion' or two in that regard. if we do indeed have bees that have developed natural resistance to mites ect., seems like that would be the best place to look for survivor stock.

    my understanding is that where that has been tried in the past, the bees haven't performed well when introduced into managed apiaries. with so many variables at play, that doesn't surprise me. what does surprise me is the reaching of the conclusion that it doesn't work, and no attempt to try to understand why not.
    If the money that will be spent on the task force were spent paying beekeepers a modest amount for every live hive on January first each year there would be a lot less Winter kill reported.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

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