No wild bees?
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Thread: No wild bees?

  1. #1
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    Default No wild bees?

    As a first year bee keeper, I am quite concerned with the lack of honey bees in the wild. I have not seen one bee this spring other than my own bees. I spend a lot of time outdoors and nothing... is this normal or a direct relation to the declining honey bee population? I have 5 swarm traps set in "perfect" areas and no activity. Pastures of wild flowers and no bees to be seen....

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by adg72484 View Post
    I spend a lot of time outdoors and nothing... is this normal or a direct relation to the declining honey bee population?
    There are a lot of unmanaged bees where I live. Urban, suburban, and river bottoms sustain heavier honey bee populations than rural farm land and pine plantations do in my area.
    David Matlock

  4. #3
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    There are lots of feral honeybee colonies in my area on upstate NY, so no shortage of "wild" bees here. My own were swarms to my barn walls from who knows where. I am in a rural area and my farm is surrounded by woods and corn and bean fields.

    And keep in mind that honey bees are a non-native species in the New World, so the bees we keep are all imports and technically never have been a wild insect. There are lots of native pollinators but they tend to get overlooked in the current frenzy over "declining" honey bee populations.

    You're in Iowa so Big-Ag may be putting a lot of pressure on honey bee colonies (and other pollinating insects) with pesticides and lack of hedgerows and monoculture, but even there I doubt there is any serious lack of bees. Just because there are flowers in your fields, doesn't mean that they are flowers that honeybees like and can use. They are quite picky.

    If your bees are storing nectar and pollen, then they are finding what they need to make a living, so all's well.

    Enj.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    IMO they have been displaced by domesticated bees, the exchange of genes is reducing and keeping the feral population in isolation.

    A good way to eliminate a species is introduce genes that mix with the original population, making the species unable to adapt. Like breeding sterile mosquitoes...

  6. #5
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    IMO they have been displaced by domesticated bees, the exchange of genes is reducing and keeping the feral population in isolation.

    A good way to eliminate a species is introduce genes that mix with the original population, making the species unable to adapt. Like breeding sterile mosquitoes...
    Then that happened a long time ago.

    Let's say you take honeybees into an area, an island far from shore let's say, and those bees swarm and populate many cavities over a number of years. And then someone collects swarms of bees from that population. Are those bees distinctly different? Genetically different in some way by not living in managed hives?

    The bees in my beehives are just as much feral, just as wild, as any other honeybees one would take out of the wall of a house or out of a tree.
    Mark Berninghausen

  7. #6
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    >Let's say you take honeybees into an area, an island far from shore

    >Are those bees distinctly different? Genetically different in some way by not living in managed hives?

    Yes that's exactly what Darwin found on the Galapagos Islands.

    Randy Oliver found the exact same thing with honey bees;
    Even in California.

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/what...nd-feral-bees/

    "I mentioned previously how impressed I am by the difference in vigor between the Southern California feral bees and commercial domesticated stock. I also made the bold statement that the honey bees produced by most commercial queen breeders could be considered to be domesticated animals. Such statements call for some serious supporting evidence. Is there truly a difference between domesticated and wild/feral honey bees? The obvious question is:"

    fig-0411.jpg

    >The bees in my beehives are just as much feral

    I'm sure some are, since you go all over the countryside collecting swarms. That's exactly how I stumble in to TF bees. No treatment in 5 years, after not seeing a mite drop from OAV I quit treating.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    >Then that happened a long time ago.

    Yes and it continues to happen, the German Black Bees brought to America complete displaced by the European Honey Bee, more recently the Africanized bees are displacing European Honey Bee in some areas and may still be spreading. There might be small fragments of genes mixed in some populations.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    I am terrible at deciphering what grafts and pie charts mean. What they are meant to illustrate. So help me out, if you will. The left hand chart, compared to the chart on the right, seems to illustrate more diverse strains of bees among feral populations. Is that what I am seeing?

    That is pretty impressive.
    Mark Berninghausen

  10. #9
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    I am terrible at deciphering what grafts and pie charts mean. What they are meant to illustrate. So help me out, if you will. The left hand chart, compared to the chart on the right, seems to illustrate more diverse strains of bees among feral populations. Is that what I am seeing?

    That is pretty impressive.
    Here's the caption that went with the graph:

    , and labeled the name and percentage of the maternal lineages found in each group of sampled stocks. The various “C” lineages are from eastern European races, including Italian, Carniolan, and Caucasian stocks; these constituted 84% of the ferals and 98% of the managed bees. “M” is the Western European lineage, commonly known as the “German” or “Dark Bee”; found in 7% of the ferals, and 2% of managed. “O” is the Middle Eastern lineage (perhaps derived from long-ago importation of A.m. syriaca), found only in the ferals (about 10%).
    Hopefully that helps explain the graph.

    Edit: One item the author points out is the C1 segment, which is Italian bees. It makes up 32% of the managed population of bees, but only 4% of the feral population. It seems that Italians aren't well suited for feral living.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    >

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/what...nd-feral-bees/

    fig-0411.jpg

    >The bees in my beehives are just as much feral
    Quote Originally Posted by BrianV View Post

    Edit: One item the author points out is the C1 segment, which is Italian bees. It makes up 32% of the managed population of bees, but only 4% of the feral population. It seems that Italians aren't well suited for feral living.

    BINGO

  12. #11
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by adg72484 View Post
    As a first year bee keeper, I am quite concerned with the lack of honey bees in the wild. I have not seen one bee this spring other than my own bees. I spend a lot of time outdoors and nothing... is this normal or a direct relation to the declining honey bee population? I have 5 swarm traps set in "perfect" areas and no activity. Pastures of wild flowers and no bees to be seen....
    I'm seeing the same thing in my part of Pennsylvania (western PA from posts on here had a good 'swarm' season). I have many types of fruit trees and I did see lots of other kinds of bees, no honey bees. My swarm traps have achieved zilch (although that may be my fault). I have white clover in my yard -- no bees. I have see a very few bees in a few locations away from my area, but all are potentially from managed hives. My feeling is that in certain areas (say western NY) bees have somewhat recovered and may be doing OK, here in SE PA maybe not so much.

    Personally, I don't think the 'wild' bee from Europe was ever truly "domesticated". The populations that escaped aren't native to our country, so I try to refer to them as "feral" rather than "wild".

  13. #12
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    I was at the zoo and city gardens today. Not one single bee. They did have a mason bee house but it had been taken over by wasps.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    I did mean feral bees. I literally have not seen one so far this year. I have been in wild flower fields, river bottoms, in town with lots of flowers... none. We had a some what mild winter so I would think some should survive. I have talked with other people that have said the same. I am hoping my swarm traps prove me wrong but I think we have a very low population of feral bees in north central iowa.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by crmauch View Post
    Personally, I don't think the 'wild' bee from Europe was ever truly "domesticated". The populations that escaped aren't native to our country, so I try to refer to them as "feral" rather than "wild".
    We've been keeping bees for several thousand years, and heavily influencing their genetic selection pressures by pinching queens that are too hot, don't produce well, and re-queening hives with preferred genetics. They've probably had significantly more generations of controlled breeding than most livestock species - certainly more than things like domesticated turkeys.

    They're domesticated - the huge difference in genetics between feral, wild, and managed colonies are proof of that.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    or perhaps the reason we are not seeing feral bees is logistics. perhaps they have chosen and maintained their hive in a perfect location with year round nectar sources that are within a few hundred feet.
    not sure how anyone can look at a bee and know its theirs or not. I watched a witches broom next to my porch and counted exactly one honey bee although I have about 60k of them less then 100 feet from it. But also counted several bumbles of different sizes, mason, and four or five other insects that I could not identify. all taking nectar and therefor pollinating.
    Terrence

  17. #16
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Of course there are wild bees. Wild apis mellifera? (honeybees)
    There is a difference and the topic is sort of vaguely written.
    Are we talking about wild bumblebees, carpenter bees, etc? Or wild honeybees?
    I'm cornfused.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  18. #17
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Today, I *think* I saw the first honeybee I've seen this year go past my window, and I'm not even sure it was a honey bee - it was brief, and it could have been a horsefly.

    In the last 5 years, the local feral population here seems to have disappeared. When I moved into this house in 2008, our lilacs would be buzzing this time of year with honey bees. Now? A few bumble bees and other polinators. No honey bees.

    That's one of the reasons I plan to start backyard hives.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianV View Post
    Today, I *think* I saw the first honeybee I've seen this year go past my window, and I'm not even sure it was a honey bee - it was brief, and it could have been a horsefly.

    In the last 5 years, the local feral population here seems to have disappeared. When I moved into this house in 2008, our lilacs would be buzzing this time of year with honey bees. Now? A few bumble bees and other polinators. No honey bees.

    That's one of the reasons I plan to start backyard hives.
    Great! You will find that if you plant marigolds, bee balm, a butterfly garden, sunflowers, and some others that you like that you'd start seeing lots of "wild" bees. Honeybees attract the others. Learn to identify wasps and hornets because they're the enemy. Good luck and welcome to the tribe.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  20. #19
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Chances are, at least some of the bees that you are seeing come from other colonies, not just yours. There probably are some other beekeepers or feral colonies within flight range of your hives. Maybe not a lot, but some. You can't tell by just a glance, nor simply by the proximity to your hives, that these are just 'your' bees. Also consider that other neighboring colonies could be finding plenty of forage very near their own homes, and so they don't need to range far, so you might not even notice them . You might be seeing an entirely different set of circumstances come the next dearth.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: No wild bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by adg72484 View Post
    As a first year bee keeper, I am quite concerned with the lack of honey bees in the wild. I have not seen one bee this spring other than my own bees. I spend a lot of time outdoors and nothing... is this normal or a direct relation to the declining honey bee population? I have 5 swarm traps set in "perfect" areas and no activity. Pastures of wild flowers and no bees to be seen....
    Normal? Depends on your definition. Back when I moved into my house back in the late '90s, there were honeybees everywhere. Saw a brief resurgence (a local beekeeper?) sometime a few years ago, and now nothing again.

    However for those who think any 'invasive'/'non-native' species is evil, since the honeybee isn't native, we're now "back" to normal conditions.

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