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Hairyloon

Wild honey bees.

I understand that some beekeepers dislike wild bees. I'm not sure why, I can see they might be a potential disease vector, but they cannot now be any serious competition.

The general word is that the overall honey bee population is pretty screwed, and the general way that a species makes it through a threat of extinction is through genetic diversity.

It seems obvious to me, from my position of ignorance, that we should be encouraging as many wild bee nests as we possibly can, possibly even to the extent of seeding them with "domestic" bees.

Is that just a really daft idea, and if so, why?
Cathryn

My understanding is that there are no wild honey bees in the UK but I guess you mean those not in beekeepers hives. Those in holes in trees and elsewhere are "seeded" as you describe it from established apiaries.

I can understand the concern if there is a lot of disease in your area. However not all the news on bees is bad but it's easier to hear that over the good. There is a lot of progress being made in disease and mite control.

It has been a good summer for bees in this area so far and that can pull the figures around.
Hairyloon

My understanding is that there are no wild honey bees in the UK but I guess you mean those not in beekeepers hives. Those in holes in trees and elsewhere are "seeded" as you describe it from established apiaries.

I would expect most of those to have come from swarms, and I understand that swarming is something you don't want your colony to do.
What I meant by "seeding" was to take a queen and a few workers and introduce them to a suitable location.
Cathryn

When I have enough bees, I won't worry about mine swarming as I want to populate this area. I haven't found a single bee in 400 acres. No one in the Society has put up any objection to this plan.

I'm only one person though.
Hairyloon

When I have enough bees, I won't worry about mine swarming as I want to populate this area.

I think I would take a similar position, but I think I would be inclined to split the colony myself, rather than let it swarm, then you control how many bees you would lose.
Cathryn

Maybe but I want them to find their own place.

One lot did swarm a couple of years ago. I don't think they survived as I have seen no sign of them. We are not the green desert that is sometimes used to describe farmland but I'm not hopeful either.
Green Rosie

We have a "wild" swarm in the tree at the bottom of our veg patch. I have no idea if it is truly wild or has come from a hive somewhere but I do know we have a very healthy bee population around here. I have seen 2 swarms leave the nest but plenty of bees remain to carry on pollinating my veggies! It has been there for several yeas now. OtleyLad

Not seen many honey bees here, but there's lots of bumble bees (this year and last).
A bee hive is now at the top of my wish list...
Green Rosie

We have a really good range of a many bees types including wonderful Carpenter bees. Cathryn

It's interesting isn't it. We also have a huge number of bees of all types except the honey bee. Although I am hoping to change that.


(I've just been offered a swarm. I'll probably use it to strengthen one of the existing hives.)
Nick

Do different bees pollinate different plants? I assume so, but are they so specific that having no honey bees is an issue, except for the honey thing? Hairyloon

We have a "wild" swarm in the tree at the bottom of our veg patch. I have no idea if it is truly wild or has come from a hive somewhere...
As far as I am concerned, that is a distinction without a difference.
Quote:
I do know we have a very healthy bee population around here. I have seen 2 swarms leave the nest but plenty of bees remain to carry on pollinating my veggies!

I would expect that a nest in a restricted space would pump out swarms on a fairly regular basis.
NorthernMonkeyGirl

When I have enough bees, I won't worry about mine swarming as I want to populate this area.
I think I would take a similar position, but I think I would be inclined to split the colony myself, rather than let it swarm, then you control how many bees you would lose.

Is there a reason perhaps that they need to make the "choice" themselves? To get a queen at the right point of maturity, or the right weather conditions, or...something?
Tavascarow

Yes IMHO genetic diversity is very important.
As an example the national dairy herd of holsteins descended from too few bulls. Could that be one of the reasons for the huge increase in BTB & not the badgers?
Certain breeds of cattle hardly ever get reactors.
Man tends to select for certain traits, with livestock (which includes bees), that tends to be productivity & temperament.
"Wild bees" might be descended from swarms escaped from beekeepers hives but the fact they are unmanaged means natural selection.
If they are susceptible to certain diseases or pests they will succumb, if not they will survive. I know of bees almost completely resistant to varroa because one man with foresight left his bees completely untreated & only bred from the survivors.
Takes a lot of nerve & you need a lot of colonies to do it.

Swindon honeybee conservation group.
There are beekeepers in West Cornwall doing similar work.
Bee improvement in Cornwall.

But as well as genetic selection we have to look at management practices as well. Much of modern beekeeping is very unnatural & much of the environment the bees have to live in also.
It's now proven that certain commonly used chemicals make Apis M more susceptible to Nosema. A disease bees have lived with for probably as long as we have kept them & usually never a problem. Now many beekeepers are reporting losses & very weakened colonies when they themselves are doing nothing different. So environmental.
Hairyloon

I would be inclined to split the colony myself, rather than let it swarm, then you control how many bees you would lose.

Is there a reason perhaps that they need to make the "choice" themselves? To get a queen at the right point of maturity, or the right weather conditions, or...something?
As I understand it, the bees choose to make a new queen, and when she emerges they go off in a swarm...
I think the new queen keeps the hive and the old one goes off swarming.
If the weather is not right then you can end up with two queens in a hive and things get a bit tense in there...
Lorrainelovesplants

Oh God, go and read a book on beekeeping. Please. Tavascarow

When I have enough bees, I won't worry about mine swarming as I want to populate this area. I haven't found a single bee in 400 acres. No one in the Society has put up any objection to this plan.

I'm only one person though. My plan is to collect as many swarms as I can from elsewhere & increase the genetic diversity of my apiary.
No doubt many swarms will have come from over managed hives & have no disease/pest resistance but some will be from resistant stock & can only reinforce my stocks.
It is a good question because many beekeepers who collect swarms kill the queens & requeen from their own stocks or even destroy the swarm & charge for the service of collection.
Cathryn

Do different bees pollinate different plants? I assume so, but are they so specific that having no honey bees is an issue, except for the honey thing?

Yes but I'm not sure on the details. I just know that some bees struggle with cultivated clover because the flowers are too long for them to reach into. Some get around this by piercing the flowers so that they can reach.

Fascinating, wish I could make time for a day lying in the sun watching bumble bees.

I'm going to!
dpack

my semi cultivated bramble has a few distinct types that visit,ranging from big woolly bumbles to what look like domestic hive dwellers.there are 4 different "round"ones of various sizes and colouring that i can tell apart ,masons and the very slim dark ones that i cant id.
spose there are at least 7 types that i have noticed as a type so far

so one plant is suitable for more than one type if it is a bramble
Mistress Rose

In general honey bees go for shorter necked flowers but if the weather is wet the nectar in things like buddleia will get nearer the top of the tube in the flower, and they can reach it. Similarly with clover and runner bean. Some bees, both bumble and honey will pierce the back of the flower to get the honey, but think that is an individual thing of the bee rather than the species.

Woods are good places for bumble bees as they like living in mouse nests or similar down holes. They also live in compost heaps, which can frighten a few people.

We had a honey bee nest in a hole in a tree in our wood for several years. It died out after a while, but was happy there for a couple of years.
Nick

my semi cultivated bramble has a few distinct types that visit,ranging from big woolly bumbles to what look like domestic hive dwellers.there are 4 different "round"ones of various sizes and colouring that i can tell apart ,masons and the very slim dark ones that i cant id.
spose there are at least 7 types that i have noticed as a type so far

so one plant is suitable for more than one type if it is a bramble

I imagine something so invasive as a bramble has got to that place by being accessible by a range of species. Are there rarer plants that rely solely on honey bees tho?
Hairyloon

Are there rarer plants that rely solely on honey bees tho?
Rarer plants than brambles?
That doesn't narrow it down much.
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