Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2015
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    Default Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    I have a patch of Anise Hyssop planted for my bees but every time that I would check on them I only found bumble bees, and my hives are only 300 feet away. This is a small patch so there would be 15-20 bumble bees and maybe 2-3 honey bees. My thoughts went back to the spring when my fruit trees were in bloom and I had noted that, where there were a lot of bumble bees on a tree there would not be many honey bees. So, I tried a little experiment. I got my needle nose pliers out and started catching the bumble bees (yes really), after I had finished with them within an hour or so my Anise Hyssops were full of honey bees by the hundreds. I have repeated this a number of times now with the same results, thin out the bumble bees and the honey bees will come pouring in. Has anyone done any similar experiments to see why their honey bees may not be visiting the flowers the way they should?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    Nothing works tomatoes and peppers better than bumblebees in my area, I would never kill them. I see no benefit to honeybees by killing a few bumblebees.

  4. #3
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    West Jordan, UT, USA
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    Right now I am seeing both honey bees, lots of them, and bumble bees, working my Russian sage, as well as leaf cutters and another small native bee I haven't ID'd yet. Bumbles don't always force the honeybees away. When there is plenty of nectar, they don't fight over it.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    I guess everyone would have their own opinion but I did see the benefit for my honey bees repeatedly from actually experimenting just to see what happens. Which leaves me to question, what is the total negative effect that bumble bees would have on honey production on 5 acres of clover if honey bees generally avoided the area because of the bumble bees. On a small patch of Anise Hyssop the difference in honey bee visits was huge.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    There are thousand of your honey bees working millions of flowers every day. They are just working a different flower at a different part of the day.

    We have plenty of flowers here that I see honey bees and bumblebee work side by side.

    You are killing native bumblebee which could be endangered cause you think they are displacing your imported European Honey Bee on a few flowers.

  7. #6
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    Oyster Bay, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    I see bumblebees and honey bees working the same flowers, right next to each other. I think FlowerPlanter is right, the bees may work flowers at different times of the day for their own reasons, not necessarily because another kind of bee is nearby. Bumbles and honey bees have tongues of different lengths that are adapted to find nectar at different depths. Maybe your flowers were filled with honey bees later in the day because the plants finally released enough nectar to get to a level where the honey bees could reach it. Please don't kill the bumble bees, we need all the pollinators we can get.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    I see bumble bees and honey bees working the same area of clover on my lawn. I think it is quite a huge stretch to think that honey bees would avoid areas as large as 5 acres due the presence of bumble bees.

    While their preferences for specific plants do overlap, they are often attracted to plants that the other avoids, usually due to physiological reasons.

    I hope you are not using your simplistic experiment on a small patch of small patch of Anise Hyssop to encourage exterminating bumblebees as they are they are the primary pollinator of thousands of native plants and many cultivated plants.

    They are important pollinators. That is fact, not opinion.

    Wayne
    Last edited by waynesgarden; 07-21-2015 at 02:58 PM.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    @ FlowerPlanter, Thanks for the reply but I must disagree on every point.
    They work the Anise Hyssop all day long and this is not the only patch that I have.
    From my observations the honey bee always gets pushed aside if the bumble bee wants the flower.
    These do not appear to be the native bumble bee you linked to. Really you have to ask, how many bees can you kill with needle nose pliers?
    Native does not always mean better, the bumble bee has never put any honey in my hives and the honey bee will pollinate just about anything the bumble bee will. No I am not opposed to bumble bees, I am just trying to find out how much honey production they are costing bee keepers,

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    Quote Originally Posted by RUUSA View Post
    These do not appear to be the native bumble bee you linked to. Really you have to ask, how many bees can you kill with needle nose pliers?
    If you were at it for an hour, possibly the majority of the bumblebee colony, honestly.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee



    Sharing a meal.
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  12. #11
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    "Native does not always mean better, the bumble bee has never put any honey in my hives and the honey bee will pollinate just about anything the bumble bee will. No I am not opposed to bumble bees, I am just trying to find out how much honey production they are costing bee keepers"


    Honeybees will not pollinate tomatoes, bumbles do. Research buzz pollination. They don't cost any honey to beekeepers, in fact they don't store or overwinter large amounts of honey.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    Quote Originally Posted by MJC417 View Post
    They don't cost any honey to beekeepers, in fact they don't store or overwinter large amounts of honey.
    They don't store any honey overwinter because they abandon the nest and the queens pump antifreeze through their body until spring while sitting in leaves or soil or woodstack or whatever.
    Not to say there isn't a teaspoon of residual honey left over when it all goes down... but the thought that bumble bees are costing him honey in any way shows a general lack of knowledge about not only bumble bees, but his own honey bees.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    >I must disagree on every point.
    And I know you will continue too.

    >how many bees can you kill with needle nose pliers?
    Apparently enough to void your flowers of bumble bees, which live in small colonies one of you probably destroyed, a small colony can't afford to lose it's foraging force.

    >Native does not always mean better
    So it's ok for you to destroy something cause you "feel" it's not better?

    >the bumble bee has never put any honey in my hives
    This is nothing but Greed!

    >honey bee will pollinate just about anything the bumble bee will.
    Wrong

    Your bees forage in a 2 mile circle maybe more, by killing your bumble bees you might have gained one drop of honey now. In turn there are going to be flowers that honey bee don't pollinate that may not get pollinated cause you killed you bumble bees, which may not seed, nor produce next year. Those may supported other pollinator that are now going to have to look for another source. Maybe they will find other flowers that honey bee also work. In the end it could cost you honey.

    There is 50 species of bubble bees in North America. Which species are you killing?;

    "The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was established because of serious concerns about the 'plight of the bumblebee'. In the last 80 years our bumblebee populations have crashed. Two species have become nationally extinct and several others have declined dramatically."

    http://www.currentresults.com/Wildli...ees-802141.php

    http://www.xerces.org/bumblebees/guidelines/

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    Quote Originally Posted by RUUSA View Post
    I am just trying to find out how much honey production they are costing bee keepers,
    You collected some data with your experiment but you didn't collect the right data to arrive at your conclusion. You don't know if eliminating those bumble bees affected your honey production. All you know is that more honeybees foraged on Anise Hyssop then before. It could work out that if a honey bee went to another kind of flower they would have collected more nectar than what they did from the Anise Hyssop. In the past man has made some serious mistakes killing something they didn't like over something they did like. No beekeeper I know worries about bumble bees.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    A flow is a lot like halloween.

    Any other night of the year you would have trouble getting anyone to give you candy by knocking on their door.

    On halloween, there is more competition than the other 364 nights of the year combined, yet everyone gets their goodie bag filled.
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me
    Other times I can barely see. -The Grateful Dead

  17. #16
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    May 2015
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    Dakota County, MN
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    My wife and I have done everything we can over the last few years to make our yard pollinator-friendly with native plant species. The flowers in the yard are overrun with bumble bees, along with a fair number of mason bees and sweat bees.

    As for our hive, forget the nectar in the yard. it's up, up, and away. The colony looks healthy to my inexperienced eye and they're storing honey in a couple supers -- something I didn't expect in our first year. I assume the girls are finding large patches of good nectar sources and ignoring our humble offerings of this, that, and the flowering other on our suburban 1/3 acre.
    2nd year bee keeper. 1 Lang and 1 TBH. Zone 4a.
    They have the outfit for people who can't resonate - Morgan Freeman

  18. #17
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    West Point, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    @ jbeshearse nice picture, but no flower, thanks. I understand that we all like bumble bees and think they are good pollinators. However all that misses the point of the post. From my own observations on a small patch of Anise Hyssop a few bumble bees kept hundreds of honey bees from visiting that patch. It was too obvious, too predictable to be anything else. Now if this were to be the same case for say an acre of Anise Hyssop where there were hundreds/thousands of bumble bees, they could push thousands/tens of thousands of honey bees away in a days time costing the bee keeper a reduced harvest. It is my hope to find a way to put a mathematical number to that loss through observations and bee counts. At the end of the day there is a reason for this. I really just wanted to know if anyone had tried this before.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    I think you should go back and pinch the honey bees until there are none left and see if the bumble bees show back up.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    Quote Originally Posted by RUUSA View Post
    ...Has anyone done any similar experiments to see why their honey bees may not be visiting the flowers the way they should?
    I haven't done the experiment but when I took a bee keeping course through the U of MN extension program, I asked the two instructors if there is competition for nectar between honey bees and bumbles. ~60 years of accumulated bee yard experience and academic research looked at me and said, "No."

    Just my 2 worth.
    2nd year bee keeper. 1 Lang and 1 TBH. Zone 4a.
    They have the outfit for people who can't resonate - Morgan Freeman

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Bumblebee vs. Honey Bee

    I would leave the bumblebees alone and not worry too much about how much honey you are losing. Your 1 honeybee hive has over 30,000 bees. The typical bumblebee colony has maybe 150. That is not much competition for your hives.

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