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Just trying to figure out if you could put a hive out in the wild with some sugar water, a queen and some worker bees, if your main goal was to increase the bee population. Would they be able to use it the next year w/out touching the hive? Thanks for any help.
 

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Unsupervised hives tend to die out every couple years, and get taken over again by swarms. This is the normal pattern of bee survival. I would expect approximately 90% of unkept hives to die within two years, swarms or not.

I'd prefer to keep the bees properly, and if you want to up the wild population, don't control swarming. You won't get much honey as a general rule if you let them swarm at will, though.

Wild bee populations are doing a good job of taking care of themselves, I think.

Peter
 

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Peter, thanks for your input. There's a decline in the bee population right now and they say it's b/c of nicotine based pesticides.

http://bunewsservice.com/as-u-s-honeybee-populations-decline-scientists-look-for-solutions/
http://www.globalresearch.ca/death-and-extinction-of-the-bees/5375684

I was just thinking if there was a way to just set them and forget them, it would help tremendously. Can you think of any way it's possible to make this happen? Are the main issues, swarms? If you have vacant synthetic bee hives available, would the swarms inhabit them? I'm completely new to this.. ha. So if you can bear w/ me I'd really appreciate it! Thanks:)
 

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If you have vacant synthetic bee hives available, would the swarms inhabit them?
Absolutely. That's how many of us come to get "free bees". It's called swarm trapping.
 

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We have managed to keep ourselves supplied with bees from swarms for some years. Last two were not good (no winter one year, then too much winter), but on average we get four or five swarm calls a year. The wild bees are doing fine.

If you want to keep bees, do so. You will probably have several hives swarm every year whether you want them to or not, so will be doing your part to keep the wild population up.

Wild bees don't produce much honey, and the native bees (which don't store honey, the queen hibernate) are suffering from the same problems as the honey bee. Mostly forage reduction, which setting out hives won't do anything to fix. You need to keep farmers from grossly over-spraying the roadsides and keep the county from mowing weekly if you want to fix that.

Peter
 

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Not to mention that varroa all but wiped out the feral population in some areas. Locally I have no feral honey bees although I am starting to see a few bumbles again finally. Since this is a rural area with no farming to speak of, I believe the loss has been due to varroa and not pesticides.

JMO

Rusty
 

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a friend who is a logger has not seen a bee tree in 3 years, he used to see a few every year. not much for feral bees here just north of lake Ontario. 2 fall dearths in a row, then last years nasty winter... I did get a 2 pound swarm today, must be local, the trucks have not arrived with the summer bees yet. it was a 40 miles ride each way:), the home owner was kind enough to help with the gas. the swarm was in an old lilac bush pretty high up near the northeast shore of lake Ontario, so a few evidently survived not many though.
 

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Peter, thanks for your input. There's a decline in the bee population right now and they say it's b/c of nicotine based pesticides.

http://bunewsservice.com/as-u-s-honeybee-populations-decline-scientists-look-for-solutions/
http://www.globalresearch.ca/death-and-extinction-of-the-bees/5375684

I was just thinking if there was a way to just set them and forget them, it would help tremendously. Can you think of any way it's possible to make this happen? Are the main issues, swarms? If you have vacant synthetic bee hives available, would the swarms inhabit them? I'm completely new to this.. ha. So if you can bear w/ me I'd really appreciate it! Thanks:)
Then as soon as this hive gets afb or efb every other hive in range gets it.
 

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The feral population is pretty good around here. Granted, there don't seem to be any within 5-6 miles of my yard...but I've picked up two swarms in a town about 15 miles away...in an area with loads of agriculture (spray planes and the works). Also have seen some wild ones 7 or so miles from my yard. Heard a report of one on a courthouse about 13 miles away. They aren't hurting as bad as some would have you believe...at least not around here.
 

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Hey guys, you seem like you really know what you're talking about. The reason I joined and posted this is b/c I heard a ton about the declining bee population and I am trying to figure out a solution. If we had 100,000 random beehives w/ spearmint and lemongrass, to prevent the mites, out in wooded areas across the nation, would that help the bee population? Thanks for any insight.. I really appreciate it!
 

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Hey guys, you seem like you really know what you're talking about. The reason I joined and posted this is b/c I heard a ton about the declining bee population and I am trying to figure out a solution. If we had 100,000 random beehives w/ spearmint and lemongrass, to prevent the mites, out in wooded areas across the nation, would that help the bee population? Thanks for any insight.. I really appreciate it!
I think what you're describing is pretty close to what we actually have. Millions of hives in random areas around the country is what beekeepers are doing already. It's been said already, but if you want to help the feral population, get you some hives and don't manage for swarm control.

As far as mites go, their prevention and control is much more complicated than you're thinking it is. If you want to propagate stocks of bees that have a higher chance of shoring up the feral population, then work on developing a mite resistant strain out of existing ferals. I really think that the feral population will shore itself up eventually as mite resistance becomes more widespread. By default, the feral bees that are out there right now must be resistant. Let's hope they spread.

You might benefit from "Beekeeping for Dummies" or a similar starter book on bees.
 

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Then as soon as this hive gets afb or efb every other hive in range gets it.
No different than if a swarm re-inhabits an old infected hive in a tree or wall cavity. (Unless one believes feral colonies in hollow trees are somehow immune to the diseases beekeepers are concerned with.)

Hollow trees tend to hold up better structurally than box hives. That's the main long-term difference I see.

Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the info.. so the main issue with the bee population is the mites, afb or efb, correct? My plan would be to get a distribution channel of people that would set up agreements with land owners, then we'd have volunteers put permanent hives on their land and populate them with hygienic queens. I'd like to make this really easy for people. Basically, something a person off the street could do. The easier it is to do, the more volunteers we'll have. I was looking for a set it and forget it method of getting a colony going. Do you think this is possible? Thanks for any info!
 

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@Babybees,

If you want to "help" bees, get some and learn to be a beekeeper. My own three hives were from swarms last summer. They are doing just fine, but it is a lot of work to undertake. And it would be a mistake to think that just getting 100,000 well-meaning people to set up hives with no intention of managing them will cure the problem. In fact it might make things worse and billions of bees would die in the process.

The brood diseases (AFB and EFB) are devasting, but luckily not that common. They are not the cause of the Great Bee Decline (nor of Colonie Collapse Disorder.)

The idea that having bees living around (even 1000's of acres) spearmint and lemongrass (which isn't hardy in most of the US and would annual re-planting) plants would prevent varroa is complete bunk. Dealing with varroa is much more complex problem than that.

The best way to get a handle on this would be to get set up to keep some bees of your own. It still might be possible to get a hive going this year, if you start immediately. But if not this year, then start making long-term plans, getting equipment, locating a good source of local bees, take classes, etc., in preparation for 2015. Try to have at least two hives as a start.

My three colonies of last summer are now six, with expected plans to become a total of 8 or 9 in the next few weeks, just from division of the original colonies which are just booming along like nobody's business despite having to endure a novice beekeeper who frequently does the wrong thing with them.

Though I often mess up with them, I do feed them (as necessary), provide excellent accommodations, including winter protection, monitor them for pests and, if necessary treat them.

One thing to keep in mind: honey bees, as adorable and important to our current agricultural system as they are, are also imported, exotic livestock brought to North America by Europeans. If they disappeared completely it would be no loss to the native fauna here at all. In some ways it might be a boon as competition for native pollinators would decline, perhaps improving their survival. Indeed, in some island wildlife conservation areas honey bees are deliberately extirpated, for good reasons.

Honey bees are enjoying(?) a period of acclaim as the sentinels signalling some of the problems of our troubled natural world. But aggressively reversing the reduced numbers of bees and colonies won't, by itself, fix the underlying problems.

Enj.
 

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I think what your describing is already happening all over the country. Accept the people are not volunteers they are new beekeepers. I think the number of registered beekeepers here in the State of Florida has almost doubled in the past 5-6 years. So if one good thing has came out of the plight of the honeybee it has been public education. People are becoming aware of the honeybee problems and quite a few have went out and bought hives for their own backyard.

I think your plan would work better if you can just try and educate the public and try to get new folks to become new beekeepers. We would be better off if you could talk new people into becoming beekeepers over just looking for volunteers to set up a hive. Like some noted above it is unlikely a hive left on its own will live past about 2yrs. jmho
 

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Hey guys, thanks a ton for your feedback. I really do appreciate it. I'm not going to lie, I have small children and not a lot of land, so it's going to be hard for me to set up my own bee colony. I do however have capital and am a successful business owner. I just had the idea to do something for the collapsing bee population and I thought that if I could produce simple hives w/ a hygienic queen / mite resistant, etc. Beekeepers like yourselves or the general population could set them up around the country. If we had a strong strand of bees, wouldn't this make sense, even if it is a 2 year colony, they would populate the strong strand of genetics and possibly solve the issue.

I am pretty certain that I can get at least 20 times more people to voluntarily set up a beehive in as a 1 time thing vs converting them to beekeepers and the ones that volunteered would be able to set up a lot more hives than the ones they'd keep for their own beekeeping initiatives. For instance, if I gave each beekeeper here 30 kits, and you set them all up on the specified land, even if they were unattended (but doing it the smartest way possible.. providing food, mite repellant, hygienic queens, etc). Wouldn't that be more beneficial than setting up 2 hives of your own?

I'm really not trying to offend anyone here, I'm business minded and in my opinion this makes sense. Thoughts? Thanks!
 

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We need beekeepers to collect honey for the markets that demand it. If there were no "beekeepers" the number of feral hives would increase to a balance that nature dictates for a given area. If you put a box of bees in the wild you will essentially give another option for those colonies that swarm to live in but I would doubt that the feral population would increase. If you decrease the number of managed colonies the number of feral colonies would increase because nature is supporting that many colonies to begin with. The numbers may not be one to one because the beekeeper does keep colonies alive that would perish under certain circumstances. The only way that man can help increase the feral population is to stop destroying their habitat and let it rejuvenate. You can't do it by adding bees.
 

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Hey guys, thanks a ton for your feedback. I really do appreciate it. I'm not going to lie, I have small children and not a lot of land, so it's going to be hard for me to set up my own bee colony. I do however have capital and am a successful business owner. I just had the idea to do something for the collapsing bee population and I thought that if I could produce simple hives w/ a hygienic queen / mite resistant, etc. Beekeepers like yourselves or the general population could set them up around the country. If we had a strong strand of bees, wouldn't this make sense, even if it is a 2 year colony, they would populate the strong strand of genetics and possibly solve the issue.

I am pretty certain that I can get at least 20 times more people to voluntarily set up a beehive in as a 1 time thing vs converting them to beekeepers and the ones that volunteered would be able to set up a lot more hives than the ones they'd keep for their own beekeeping initiatives. For instance, if I gave each beekeeper here 30 kits, and you set them all up on the specified land, even if they were unattended (but doing it the smartest way possible.. providing food, mite repellant, hygienic queens, etc). Wouldn't that be more beneficial than setting up 2 hives of your own?

I'm really not trying to offend anyone here, I'm business minded and in my opinion this makes sense. Thoughts? Thanks!
Nah, nobody's getting offended. I think most of us like the cut of your jib and are just trying to help you understand a bit better how bees work.

Bees have a natural propensity to cast off swarms - it's where half the hive and the queen take off and leave to start another colony on their own, leaving the other half behind with a new (growing) queen. It's the way bees spread themselves in the wild. As a beekeeper, you have the option to allow any or all of your kept hives to do this, casting many new colonies of bees out into the area to begin their own hives without human intervention. I say "option", but it's really an opt-out thing; the bees will automatically swarm unless you take specific steps to prevent them from doing so.

Swarms will naturally seek out and find suitable places to build their hive in - hollow trees, hollow buildings, hollow other-things of sufficient volume. What this means is, setting an artificial hive out in the middle of nowhere for bees to live in on their own is kind of a superfluous exercise - there are already plenty of places for them to live; lack of living spaces is not the problem that bees are struggling with or the cause of their decline.

What bees are struggling with is a combination of diseases, parasites, and insecticides. Active beekeepers can help protect them from these to a point; swarms those hives cast off are on their own and may do well, or may succumb to a problem. As beekeepers, we can try to help any given swarm we cast off have a better chance for survival by artificially selecting for traits that help them handle particular problems well with minimal intervention needed by the beekeeper. In theory, bees with enough selected traits to be able to handle most or all of the problems on their own can be developed and these when allowed to swarm wild would re-establish the wild population. Practically-speaking though, genetics in the wild is...more complicated than that. So we do our best.

Short answer - I understand and respect your intent, but I do not think that establishing a colony of bees in an artificial hive and then permanently leaving them to their own devices would be helpful or wise - and depending on your state might even be illegal (you'd have to check).
 
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