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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello. I was wondering why the government has not brought in any Asian honey bees (Apis cerana) into the US. Apis cerana are already hardy against Varroa. Would the Asian Honey bee not be good for almond pollination?

People complain about bees being hard to keep alive because of Varroa, so Apis cerana may be a good solution to that problem. Of course there are dangers to bringing in Apis cerana, such as introducing Tropilaelaps spp. of mites, but I have read that if you cage the queen, and keep the colony broodless long enough, the Tropilaelaps mites cannot survive long because the mites cannot bite through the exoskeleton of the adult honeybee, and so needs bee larvae to feed on (https://entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/BEES/Tropilaelaps.htm). Maybe in that way they can import Asian Honey bees without bringing the Tropilaelaps into the US. The Russian bees were first brought into an island near Louisiana, to isolate them. The government could try that and see if there are any pests or diseases from the Asian Honey bees that would harm the Western Honeybees.

I have read that in South Korea, where Tropilaelaps are now living, the beekeepers will overwinter their hives in colder areas to keep the Tropilaelaps infestation from being bad. You would have to get a subspecies of Apis cerana adapted to a climate similar to ours (maybe the Japanese or Far East Russian subspecies or a mountain strain.) and that keeps a large populous colony. Since Apis cerana have much smaller colonies than the Western Honey bees, I thought for almond pollination just keeping triple or more of the colonies on specially designed pallets as they do now with Western Honey bees here in the US for pollination would make up for the smaller colony sizes of Asian Honey bees.
 

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Human transportation of species into new habitats often has unforeseen and unfortunate side effects. Varroa can be managed with current knowledge and treatments, apparently with moderate risk.
 

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I think that's an interesting idea.

Apis cerana is known to produce less honey, but I'm not sure if efficiency at pollination is known, even though that's the main money maker for beekeepers in the US. One would tend to assume that the smaller populations would require more colonies per acre, which would require more work. And if that's true, I doubt they'd be economically competitive, since varroa treatments are cheap and easy.

I can say first hand they're eager and gentle robbers. Saw them buzzing all around an outdoor bar in Bali, ignored completely by bartenders and patrons alike. From a distance this surprised me because I assumed they were some kind of hornet. Up close, they looked like a slightly miniaturized Carni. Had to look them up online to find out what they were.

Ah hah, here's a nice discussion of apis cerana for pollination:

In Asia, A. cerana is regarded as an excellent crop pollinator for a large variety of fruit and vegetable crops, sometimes outperforming A. mellifera [27,118,119,120,121,122,123,124]. This is thought to be due to the fact that A. cerana begin foraging earlier in the day and cease later in the day, pollinating flowers for longer than A. mellifera, and also because A. cerana employ relatively larger numbers of pollen collectors (compared to nectar collectors) than A. mellifera [27,118,119,120,121,122].

A. cerana has been reported as pollinating fruit and nuts, vegetables, pulses, oilseeds, spices, coffee, as well as fibre and forage crops, and has been found especially important in pollinating cauliflower, onion, and okra in India (reviewed in [27,112,123,125]). Studies specifically undertaken to show the impact of A. cerana on crop yield and productivity showed that pollination by A. cerana increased fruit and seed set, increased the quality of fruit and seeds, and reduced premature fruit drop (reviewed in [27,112,125]). Apple, peach, plum, citrus, and strawberry all showed a marked increase in fruit set (10 to 112% increase) and weight (33 to 48% increase). Similar results were also shown for a broad range of vegetables, oil rape seed, sunflower, buckwheat, soybean, cotton (reviewed in [27]), and coffee [125].

However, most of the studies reviewed in Partap [27] were conducted in temperate climates on temperate A. cerana. Few studies could be found on crop pollination of A. cerana Java genotype. One study on pollination of the non-food crop Jatropha curcas in Java, showed both A. cerana (presumably Java genotype) and A. mellifera to be pollinators [126]. Although A. mellifera seemed to be better pollinators than A. cerana for this particular crop, there was no statistical significance andsample sizes were very small [126].

These crops are also present in Australia and are likely to provide invading A. cerana with an abundant food resource. In addition, as, in Australia, these crops are pollinated by A. mellifera, there is potential for resource competition between the species. The potential for A. cerana to pollinate crops in Australia, and to potentially introduce competition for A. mellifera and/or native Australian bees, needs to be further explored.
-- http://jeb.biologists.org/content/213/10/1659 section 9.1

This paper also has some funny discussion of colonies they made out of a mix of apis mellifera and apis cerana workers, including pictures of the wacky comb they drew, because science.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think that's an interesting idea.

Apis cerana is known to produce less honey, but I'm not sure if efficiency at pollination is known, even though that's the main money maker for beekeepers in the US. One would tend to assume that the smaller populations would require more colonies per acre, which would require more work. And if that's true, I doubt they'd be economically competitive, since varroa treatments are cheap and easy.

I can say first hand they're eager and gentle robbers. Saw them buzzing all around an outdoor bar in Bali, ignored completely by bartenders and patrons alike. From a distance this surprised me because I assumed they were some kind of hornet. Up close, they looked like a slightly miniaturized Carni. Had to look them up online to find out what they were.

Ah hah, here's a nice discussion of apis cerana for pollination:



-- http://jeb.biologists.org/content/213/10/1659 section 9.1

This paper also has some funny discussion of colonies they made out of a mix of apis mellifera and apis cerana workers, including pictures of the wacky comb they drew, because science.
That is funny cfalls! People have already tried mixing the two species in a colony!

If the honey in this video is from Apis cerana, it looks like a good amount of honey was harvested:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_08L5xGcxdY

I was hoping that certain subspecies of Apis cerana would actually have more populous colonies, like how Apis mellifera varies between subspecies. Apis mellifera lamarckii have small colonies compared to our common Italian honey bees, correct me if I am wrong.

I have read that in the United States the average honey harvest is 60 lb of honey per colony. That sounds little per colony. An average of, (give or take), 180 lb per colony a year seems more reasonable from what I've seen with our colonies and what I have read some beekeepers get (https://www.ars.usda.gov/southeast-...rials-of-russian-honey-bees-honey-production/). Our bees will swarm early in the season (February, March and early April), and so new beekeepers may not even be aware a colony has swarmed so early and by the next nectar flow the colony has recovered strength, right under the nose of the oblivious beginning beekeeper. That may be the reason why the average honey harvest here in the US is 60 lb, no? Our colonies here in North Carolina swarm often if kept in a one story ten frame box, not so different from African bees. They will send several after swarms, and then recover and do the same the next nectar flow if not prevented. I have noticed that later in the season during our strongest honey flows, the bees stop swarming and build up a populous colony and store a lot of honey, only swarming when out of room.

I even have a suspicion that the better honey production (25-30 kg per colony, 30-40 percent more honey than their native Moscow bee) (https://goldenbee.ge/en/info.htm) for Caucasian bees than the native German black bee in Moscow was because the native Moscow bees swarmed early in the season having built up in time for the early season nectar while the non-native Caucasian bees did not, having not built up early enough to take advantage of the early nectar source, and so the colony stayed intact to make a larger honey crop than the native subspecies of Moscow. I have noticed that of the colonies I have at our home, that I think have a good percentage of Caucasian, build up sluggishly in the early season, missing the early nectar we get from maple trees in February. https://www.beesource.com/forums/sh...ng-between-Carniolan-and-Caucasian-honey-bees

I would like to breed for early build-up of the Caucasian bees, getting them locally adapted to our nectar flows, but I wonder why Caucasian bees have this sluggish early build-up trait (Bear in mind that I am assuming these few colonies I've had with these traits are Caucasian bees, I might be wrong and these bees I've worked with not be Caucasian bees.). Is it because the Caucasian bees come from an area with few cavities to swarm into, and so reproduction is not as important and survival and drone production more important?
 

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> I was wondering why the government has not brought in any Asian honey bees (Apis cerana) into the US. Apis cerana are already hardy against Varroa.

Apis cerana are not very useful. They make little honey, abscond easily and are difficult to keep. Plus what other parasites come along... It's irrelevant as it's illegal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
> I was wondering why the government has not brought in any Asian honey bees (Apis cerana) into the US. Apis cerana are already hardy against Varroa.

Apis cerana are not very useful. They make little honey, abscond easily and are difficult to keep. Plus what other parasites come along... It's irrelevant as it's illegal.
Have you actually tried the different subspecies of A. cerana? There may be drastic differences between the subspecies just as with the Western honey bee.

It would be nice if the government could test a few different subspecies of Asian honey bees on an island or two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think that's an interesting idea.

Apis cerana is known to produce less honey, but I'm not sure if efficiency at pollination is known, even though that's the main money maker for beekeepers in the US. One would tend to assume that the smaller populations would require more colonies per acre, which would require more work. And if that's true, I doubt they'd be economically competitive, since varroa treatments are cheap and easy.

I can say first hand they're eager and gentle robbers. Saw them buzzing all around an outdoor bar in Bali, ignored completely by bartenders and patrons alike. From a distance this surprised me because I assumed they were some kind of hornet. Up close, they looked like a slightly miniaturized Carni. Had to look them up online to find out what they were.

Ah hah, here's a nice discussion of apis cerana for pollination:



-- http://jeb.biologists.org/content/213/10/1659 section 9.1

This paper also has some funny discussion of colonies they made out of a mix of apis mellifera and apis cerana workers, including pictures of the wacky comb they drew, because science.
I was thinking that putting many Apis cerana colonies on a pallet would help to have less work for moving the colonies around for pollination of the almonds. I have read that almond pollination is a big source of income for beekeepers. The Asian honey bee might turn out to be great for almond pollination and be the "silver bullet" (hopefully) bee. I know that I have read from some books that there is no such thing as a "silver bullet" or perfect bee, but I can't stop hoping. lol
 

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>Now if they could just share their stock and make it work for everyone.

I sell treatment free survivor queens. I try to convince people not to buy them, and just find local survivors... I'm not the only one.

The whole reason we have Varroa is that cerana are not very productive so EHB were brought in where cerana were and the Varroa made the jump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes, I have noticed that our honeybees do not die from varroa mites. Certain colonies may show signs of stress from varroa during the late summer when we have had a long, hot summer dearth starting when June is over and July comes. But even those colonies do not die through the winter, but rebound when February comes (maple nectar). We have pollen year round here, and bees will not breed much during the winter or summer even when pollen is available, but as soon as the maples bloom in February I see a lot of brood production and comb production. I have read that maples do not give nectar, but that they give pollen early in the season and so stimulate brood production, but I believe it is the nectar they give that actually starts brood production and swarming. I know we have pollen through the whole winter here in North Carolina because I have fed the bees thick sugar syrup through the winter and they bring pollen in and become active, starting foraging at 37F (which is also commonly written or known otherwise). If it is sunny and dry, bees will go out at lower temperatures, but if it has been drizzling, our bees won't go out at even 40F. Our bees here in North Carolina will forage almost everyday of winter except rainy days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
http://www.beesfordevelopment.org/media/2670/bfdj94-profitable-beekeeping-with-apis-cerana.pdf

Here is an interesting article about keeping Apis cerana in Japan. It says that Apis cerana make about a fourth of what European honey bees make in honey. That is better than I thought! He even says in the article that he doesn't see it as much of a disadvantage, but just have four times the number of Asian honey bee colonies than European honeybee colonies to compensate for the less honey production. Even with absconding it says it is not without reason that the Asian honey bees abscond. One disadvantage though is that the Asian honey bees he says go only a radius of 2 km, which is much less than the European honey bees.
 

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Cerana was brought into the U.S. back in the early 1900's. Do some due diligence and find the records. They have numerous weaknesses that make them poor honey producers. They are ineffective pollinators on many of the temperate plant species we grow. They do have some interesting traits. It is highly likely that a cross-species hybrid will eventually be used to bring those traits over to our domestic honeybees.
 
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