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To be fair, to Seeley have you read his actual books?

At no time does he try to hide the size of the forest the location or the goals of his work. He comes across to me in his writing as very modest , humble and restrained in his findings and conclusions.

Seeley did allot if not all the original research in the 70's on how bees live in the wild at the time there may have been some cultural / intitutional knowledge from woodsmen, bee hunters , loggers etc but he was the first one to go out and do the research in a disciplined manner and publish the studies on wild colony size, populations density, swarming behavior etc. all to be critically read and peer reviewed. In those original studies the he didn't hide the size of the Arnot forest and in every one of his studies he describes its size, so anyone that misses that fact shouldn't blame Seeley. The subsequent studies in the Arnot forest were based on the fact that he did the very same studies in the same forest before Varroa and he could directly compare any changes, to me that IS a bid deal, there is nowhere else in the world we have that opportunity.
To Gray Gooses point, I don't remember him discussing a "new size" just that bees in the wild live in smaller nests than managed colonies. IF he did come to the conclusion that there is a "new size" bee nest is it because he is comparing the size of the nests that he found in the SAME forest in the 70's? Are you saying it had been clearcut since then?

In his studies he does pose the question are the bees in the Arnot forest just swarms from local managed colonies , that is why he did the genetic studies, he came to a certain conclusion and people have pointed out its flaws. BUT he found that the bees in the forest were genetically distinct from all the managed bees around the forest .. newly requeened, brand new apiaries or not ... that is what he found.

Those feeding stations are not to feed the bees , its to catch the bees, they are there for a few hours or days at a time very rarely to conduct genetics studies or line bees to find their nests.

His main conclusion was that bees are still living in the wild in North America which was against the assumptions of himself and many people. This had not been studied at the time (post varroa) , and anecdotally this has been substantiated over and over again, as well as many other supporting studies have been done, but he was the first to actually go out an do it, anywhere, at all !...and then there are all these people that come decades later to question his work? Thats like a modern Drag Racer in a 2021 mustang talking trash out some dude in a hot rod 32 ford in the racing 1940's ..he was running a flathead...whats wrong with him? hadn't they heard of overhead cams?...the mustang wouldn't even exist without the 32 ford.... ..Hell I know of a few bee trees myself and have seen HB deep on the Olympia National Park far far from civilization.... so yes I think his conclusion is solid... bees are living in the wild, unmanaged in North America.
Jason,

Mostly I agree, good study, interesting findings, and A for effort.
However:
4200 acre Arnot forest in NOT a Wild unmanaged forest. and yes it had been clear cut , do not know when but no very large trees exist there. Maybe to Seeley 4200 acres is a "forest" IMO 100 Square miles is a better example of unmanaged forest if it has the old growth trees like the 3 and 4 foot diameter ones. Shoot my hunting property and the couple neighbors is 1/4 that size a large unmanaged forest it is not.

IMO if managed bees are in a 10 mile crow flys distance from the "Unmanaged test area, it somewhat mitigates the findings. there would have to be swarms moving in. Again I offered the Appalachian Mountains as an example of a better place.

I also agree that "wild/feral" bees will tend to be different than domestic, heck some of the so called domestic bees I cannot get thru winter by me, Yes I am sure that is my fault but I digress.

With the so called Island study of swarm box preference and this Arnot study, IMO any conclusions drawn are at best opinions, the studies themselves have numerous "flaws/issues/constants" that call into question the results that folk seem to take a gospel.

Again great Seely did some work to better understand bees, Likely the funds he had allowed a "smallish" study, I get that.
But if one really looks at the details, the constants and the facts, they do not really prove anything.

As well I think more studys need be done, but someone needs to pony up the $$,, who really has skin in the game of what do the wild bees do? Not many here care, not to the tune of 100s of dollars. We can debate it but the "science" here is not as scientific as I would need to really buy into the whole list of "findings" yes it helps to scope the next studies, and many questions are still unanswered.

Like you car example.
The wild bees of the 30s are different than the wild bees of 2021, so extrapolation is at best a assumption.

Again this mostly a discussion of domesticated stock, and what will it do when let out.
Great example is the Africanized stock it seemed to thrive in its space.

Hopefully we have some one with interest than can find deep pockets and has a conscience to do more and better studies.
with the differences in the keeper make up, it will be a while before we get to a consensus of what to even study.
the commercials want a cheap effective Mite treatment.
the sideliners want a good dependable TF bee stock.
the newbies want to know what is the best smoker fuel.

all on the same page we Ar-not

GG
 

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let me try this a different way.
A single colony is know to forage up to 3 miles 5 in a dearth.
area is known to be Pi R squared
so we have 3.14159 X 3 squared or a touch over 28 square miles ( for the 3 mile Radius)

28 X 640 Acres per square mile... is 17,900 acres
so a single colony's forage area is over 4 times the size of the "Arnot forest"

so in reality 75% of the bees in the Arnot forest forage area and range is outside of the so called forest. As well any bees within 3 miles of the Arnot forest also forage in the trees with the locals. heck with out the AG around the so called forest the bees would starve.

the 5 mile example is even more telling at 25 X Pi or 50,000 acres.

so IMO 4 bee trees like a dice face found in 200,000 acres, some of which is old growth, would be a study.
4200 acres.... large hunting property.... small ranch....

A better title for the Arnot forest study, would be "8 colony study in natural a woodland setting"

just wanting some context to be present.

GG
 

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GG I am enjoying our discussion..

"AG around the so called forest the bees would starve...." I think that is true in many places ..AG and plain old neighborhoods with gardens and fruit trees all abundantly watered. So many people are surprised when "city bees" produce more honey than "country bees"...

Thats also why there has never been and will never be a large unmanaged population in the Fir "farms" of the PNW of WA and BC... bees just starve in many parts of the cascades.

I get it, and ideal place to study "wild bees" and how they deal with varroa would be more isolated...( I still think the Olympic Peninsula near me would be a good choice, and some of my stock is from Olympic Wilderness Apiary who stock is hybrids from the feral Caucasians he has obtained from cut outs he found out in the forests of the Peninsula)

Are Seeleys conclusions so baseless? what is actually more representative of feral bees in the U.S.? a park , or river with bee trees (BTW the area around the Columbia River as well as the Tualatin and Willamite near me are densely populated with bee trees) that are unmanaged and overwinter regularly ? (I know the bee trees around me are overwintering because they are occupied in February and May, I check on them in the summer as well and they are humming... so if they are dying out and being repopulated with swarms I haven't been able to figure out when)

Or is some extremely isolated place (rare in the U.S). a better representation of feral bees? I think you could argue that the bee trees I know of along the Columbia River are more relevant to surviving unmanaged bees than colonies that are completely isolated in the Olympic National Forest.( also which exist)

Which conclusions of Sealey are so controversial?

That bees are surviving throughout the country unmanaged ?
That they prefer a cavity between the size of a Langstroth deep / plus a medium?
That bees get more insulation from bee trees than our boxes and that benefits the colony?
Frequent swarming provides varroa control ?

What do we disagree with?
 

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GG I am enjoying our discussion..

"AG around the so called forest the bees would starve...." I think that is true in many places ..AG and plain old neighborhoods with gardens and fruit trees all abundantly watered. So many people are surprised when "city bees" produce more honey than "country bees"...

Thats also why there has never been and will never be a large unmanaged population in the Fir "farms" of the PNW of WA and BC... bees just starve in many parts of the cascades.

I get it, and ideal place to study "wild bees" and how they deal with varroa would be more isolated...( I still think the Olympic Peninsula near me would be a good choice, and some of my stock is from Olympic Wilderness Apiary who stock is hybrids from the feral Caucasians he has obtained from cut outs he found out in the forests of the Peninsula)

Are Seeleys conclusions so baseless? what is actually more representative of feral bees in the U.S.? a park , or river with bee trees (BTW the area around the Columbia River as well as the Tualatin and Willamite near me are densely populated with bee trees) that are unmanaged and overwinter regularly ? (I know the bee trees around me are overwintering because they are occupied in February and May, I check on them in the summer as well and they are humming... so if they are dying out and being repopulated with swarms I haven't been able to figure out when)

Or is some extremely isolated place (rare in the U.S). a better representation of feral bees? I think you could argue that the bee trees I know of along the Columbia River are more relevant to surviving unmanaged bees than colonies that are completely isolated in the Olympic National Forest.( also which exist)

Which conclusions of Sealey are so controversial?

That bees are surviving throughout the country unmanaged ?
That they prefer a cavity between the size of a Langstroth deep / plus a medium?
That bees get more insulation from bee trees than our boxes and that benefits the colony?
Frequent swarming provides varroa control ?

What do we disagree with?
Jason,
That bees are surviving throughout the country unmanaged ? agree
That they prefer a cavity between the size of a Langstroth deep / plus a medium? not sure i can agree, this is yet to be "proven" I trap at 60 liters, But I am looking for the big prime swarms.
That bees get more insulation from bee trees than our boxes and that benefits the colony? also agree and I have now started using insulated hives, as a mimic
Frequent swarming provides varroa control ? not sure This is working, the swarms I have caught with Varroa, all die, so if the bees left with most of the Varroa then maybe it helps but IMO swarming is not the majic, maybe a brood break that comes with swarming helps, some of my hives take a break on their own,

mostly disagree that a the 4200 acre study carries any weight, IMO take 10- 5000 acre places and they would all differ, so the inference of this "the data from such a small test" is misleading. As to the island study to set the gospel of 40 liters, the swarms were "created" at a 1/2 or 1 pound, and the first choice of the Chimney was "blocked" was an island of bushes. As I recall IE no trees. so the "constants" created swarm, small swarm, blocked first choice, non treed habitat, IMO make the data less than gospel.. again good ideas, good effort, seemed under funded or under "real life" to me. If I ever end up on a treeless island where swarms are created I will certainly use the 40 L box, or a fake chimney. :) However I am in the woods, with homes and barns and such so different environment.

.( I still think the Olympic Peninsula near me would be a good choice, and some of my stock is from Olympic Wilderness Apiary who stock is hybrids from the feral Caucasians he has obtained from cut outs he found out in the forests of the Peninsula) So I looked at the Olympic stock from Wilderness Apiary. Do you have any of those queens? Care to offer feedback? I was interested in them as "feral stock" which they seem to suggest in the web site.

GG
 

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So I looked at the Olympic stock from Wilderness Apiary. Do you have any of those queens? Care to offer feedback? I was interested in them as "feral stock" which they seem to suggest in the web site.
My survivor VHS queen is originating from the Olympic stock.
She was the lone survivor for the 2020/2021 winter as I reported.
Positive feedback from me.
 

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hmm
i may need to order couple
thanks
GG
I got from here, locally for me:

My interpretation of a Olympic bee sample:
#2 - some mongrel with prevailing Carnica and almost equal Ligustica.
There is some indication of Sossimai, so the Russian influence is there but not as strong as in the #1.
I say these are some open-mated US-based mutts whatever they are.
Possibly a Russian lineage present few iterations back that has been diluted by Ligustica/Carnica via open-mating.
64443
 

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.( I still think the Olympic Peninsula near me would be a good choice, and some of my stock is from Olympic Wilderness Apiary who stock is hybrids from the feral Caucasians he has obtained from cut outs he found out in the forests of the Peninsula)
I ran a morpho-sample on some bees originating from the "Olympic Wilderness Apiary".
No indication of the Caucasians.

Granted this is NOT a genetics testing, but still, the Caucasians are very distinct and significant presence of them should show.
I doubt you have "feral Caucasians" flying in the forests of the Peninsula.
Most likely Carni/Italian-leaning mutts.
Still feral, not arguing there..
 

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Wow. Thanks for the data. Love it.
Granted, I only had access to two samples.
But at least I have some numbers, kinda/sorta.
I also looked at some other samples that, indeed, show significant Caucasian influence - they do stick out.

Anyway, speaking of the bee make ups.... Just all bunch of mutts all over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
... what is actually more representative of feral bees in the U.S.?
jjayf:

I appreciate your thoughtful feedback and I concur we want to be careful to consider these studies in their proper perspective and context. I imagine there are few areas in the continental US that can be considered truly isolated- and the main question in my mind is not whether there is overlap between feral and domesticated stock in most locales (which seems likely), but rather whether there is a genetic difference between these two populations?

The research I have read (most of which is now posted in this thread), seems to suggest there generally is a genetic difference, but that this difference might be relatively modest in some (or possibly most) areas- particularly those most impacted by sustained bee importation.
 

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I know nothing of the genetics but I started 6 years ago with bees from a managed hive. Second year I put my money in swarm traps and atv fuel hunting for "feral" bees in tree cavities. I have three trees that cast swarms almost every spring and I can tell you my stock has much smaller workers that seem to be much more responsive to changes in the flow and weather. This means less extra honey but also much less attention needed on my part. I killed that first colony the second winter by managing them just like I did the tree bees so, I much prefer the unmanaged bees whether you can call them feral or not.
 

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I know nothing of the genetics but I started 6 years ago with bees from a managed hive. Second year I put my money in swarm traps and atv fuel hunting for "feral" bees in tree cavities. I have three trees that cast swarms almost every spring and I can tell you my stock has much smaller workers that seem to be much more responsive to changes in the flow and weather. This means less extra honey but also much less attention needed on my part. I killed that first colony the second winter by managing them just like I did the tree bees so, I much prefer the unmanaged bees whether you can call them feral or not.
I'm very new to beekeeping. 4 months to be exact. But I feel your post is spot on. I bought one nuc in March and decided I wanted more. But I didn't want to pay for them and I wanted to catch my own (I'm an avid hunter..). I got a swarm from a trailer in the woods at my camp. I can really tell a difference between the bees from the woods and the bees from the nuc. They seem much smaller, tougher and more temperamental. I did an alcohol wash on nurse bees on open brood Monday. Zero mites. I plan to split and just keep these moving forward on foundationless frames. I do understand these could have come from an established hive, but they appear to be so different from my others. I also agree they will probably produce less honey.
 

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The issues of "less honey" is pretty much compensated by having a few more hives and also spending less time tending to them.
Time is honey.
A great option to have.
 

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.( I still think the Olympic Peninsula near me would be a good choice, and some of my stock is from Olympic Wilderness Apiary who stock is hybrids from the feral Caucasians he has obtained from cut outs he found out in the forests of the Peninsula) So I looked at the Olympic stock from Wilderness Apiary. Do you have any of those queens? Care to offer feedback? I was interested in them as "feral stock" which they seem to suggest in the web site.

GG
GG
Sorry, I haven't signed in in a while but to answer your question....Yes I have Queens that are daughters of OWA Breeder queens, and I have a friend that gets breeder queens from them regularly who has 90% survival rates in his apiary. The bees are very mite tolerant and very sensitive to the environment. Very Hardy Bees. They brood down in a dearth overwinter in small clusters and propolize EVERYTHING.
Jason
 

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Granted, I only had access to two samples.
But at least I have some numbers, kinda/sorta.
I also looked at some other samples that, indeed, show significant Caucasian influence - they do stick out.

Anyway, speaking of the bee make ups.... Just all bunch of mutts all over.
Agreed...Mutts all over... The "Feral Caucasians" is a paraphrase quote from Dan at OWA...I guess some locals here say that a lot of the bees originally brought out to PNW were Caucasian. I don't know I wasn't there... but I will say they are very dark and propolize heavily , and coincidentally another apiary (Laurie Miller, I have two hives with her queens) out here that advertises local feral genetics ( her bees are great also) are also black and propalize heavily... but who knows. I did get a nuc of Caucasians this last year...they were absolute DUDS, diseased and weak.

All my bees at this point are captured swarms that flew into my yard, OWA open mated daughters or Laurie Millers bees and some of her open mated daughters. At this point I figure I'll just get queens from OWA or Laurie once in a while so my bees don't get too heavily influenced by all the neighbors running Italian packages.
 

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One thing that strikes me about the discussion of "feral" vs "domesticated" is that it may not just be the house they live in. Someone mentioned feral pigs but (I think) missed the more significant example. Feral pigs will develop receding/sloped heads, longer tusks, and more aggressive behavior. So the genetics are the same, even the same pig after a number of years after being set wild (or feral) will begin to develop these characteristics.

So, I wonder if the same can be true here? By the very act of providing a home and care, do we change the bees?
 

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One thing that strikes me about the discussion of "feral" vs "domesticated" is that it may not just be the house they live in. Someone mentioned feral pigs but (I think) missed the more significant example. Feral pigs will develop receding/sloped heads, longer tusks, and more aggressive behavior. So the genetics are the same, even the same pig after a number of years after being set wild (or feral) will begin to develop these characteristics.

So, I wonder if the same can be true here? By the very act of providing a home and care, do we change the bees?
Maybe we should ask those crazies in the southwest , South America, Mexico , and even Africa that manage Africanized bees
 

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Maybe we should ask those crazies in the southwest , South America, Mexico , and even Africa that manage Africanized bees
I think you misunderstand me - I'm just pointing out that the act of bees being on their own may change them somehow even if they possess the same genes as the one in the apiary down the street.
 
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