Bees - Scary?

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Think about this a minute. They are out gathering food. Why should they come back to a man made hive?

They have identified chemicals that make the bees loose their sense of direction and they have found these chemicals in the areas of the CCD.

Bees existed wild for many millenia before man made his first hive. Keeping bees in hives is relatively new in their history. They will do just as well as Canada Geese do when they don't fly south.
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Stephen Henning wrote:

They are out gathering pollen. Pollen is not the food source of bees. It's used in the making of honey, which is their food source.

If they can't reach their hive, they don't survive.
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No, pollen is most definitely a source of food, lipids, vitamins, sterols, minerals, micronutrients and most importantly protein, some within the worker bees' bodies in the form of vitellogenin and some of which is stored as beebread. Honey comes from nectar gathered and processed in the workers' honey stomaches and is also used as food, mainly carbohydrates they burn over the winter to keep themselves and the all-important queen warm until spring. There's more involved, but books have been written on bee nutrition, I'm not going to bore you all with the rest of it <G>
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Dammit.
read 'some stored in'
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Ann wrote:

Not bored at all, actually.. ;)
So they can indeed survive on their own munching on pollen and wondering around aimlessly?
Knew they did eat pollen but I'd always thought that honey was their main food source and not just for winter stock.
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That's good <G>

No, I didn't say that. They need the hive, they need to work. They have designated jobs throughout their short lives. The field bees that are out gathering are on their last job - they literally wear their wings out bringing back stores for the hive.

Bee bread is extremely important to them. It's being discussed right now in Bee Culture, we need fat bees going into the winter - they have the longest life, winter bees, they raise the spring brood and need good nutrition to last through the cold seasosn.
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Ann wrote:

Ok.. That was on the lines of my whole point to begin with, that they can't survive without the hive and are indeed dieing off.

You're packed full of information on bees, do you keep them? Always wanted to just for the fun factor more than anything.
We're going to seed the yard with clover this spring and I've got tons of planting to do to improve the yard.. It's funny though since we live in front of a sub devision.. They all have 'lawns'.. I like to pick the dandelions and blow them their direction.. ;)
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Yes, we've got hives here, at my mother's a few towns over, and at our home up in Maine. It is fun, fascinating, and the honey I get from my gardens is fantastic - a mixture of whatever they find in the wild and the herbs and flowers I've got all over. Haven't extracted the honey from the hives in Maine, that's a project for this weekend.

I've let the dandelions go wild in the backyard, they're everywhere, but it turns out they aren't a great nectar source - they do bloom before most everything else, so they're worth having, but just until other blooms start. The protein in the pollen is incomplete, too. I guess no one told the girls that, however, they seem to love the dandies!
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Because it's their home. And it's where the queen is. They don't have minds of their own, they return to their hive (if they can).

That isn't the bottom line on the CCD issue. It's a suspect, but it hasn't been definitively stated.

Stephen, that just isn't true. If they can't find their hive, they die. They don't all go out enmass to the same place, together, stay to together, and return together. Nevermind the fact that the queen never leaves the hive - except when she's a virgin, on her mating flight.
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wrote:

duh! because they are *bees* & the man made hive is where their queen is. bees are social. they work for the hive. worker bees just do NOT go out one morning, find a nice field of buckwheat in bloom & say "Wow! this is cool. i'll just stay out here forever. no more Queenie telling *me* what to do!" no, they mark the field in their little inborn GPS & head back to the hive to tell all the other worker bees about it.

yes, and assorted viruses & the lovely verroa mite... while it may be convenient for the farmers to have the travelling bee keepers come around, those travelling hives are spreading viruses & mites & all kinds of unhealthy bee bugs.

oddly, that's not true. there are very few 'wild' hives of honeybees. lee
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Thankfully they seem to be on a bit of a comeback. There have been feral hives located that show resistance to varroa. There may be hope - that is if humans will leave them alone and let them adapt!
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Ann wrote:

As if that will ever happen.. First instinct for people who sees a hive in a tree is to eradicate them. Especially with all the killer bee fear.
On the bright side there are still pockets in the country that are sparsely populated.
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Ann said:

My money's on some lab, somewhere, creating a varroa-proof bee. You know what they say about history and it's repeats. ;)
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expounded:

My money is on nature. My armchair quarterbacking is that since so many commercial beekeepers are buying queens that there is likely only a handful of suppliers who are breeding and boxing up queens, and a few of them have a problem - they got themselves a genetic defect or some such that has infested their production hives and nobody is willing to publically admit it because they don't want their business to collapse.
Sooner or later once enough data is gathered, they will trace it down to a cause, by then my guess is the queen suppliers will have a fix applied and you will see a bunch of stonewalling and denials from the industry, and it will be back to business as usual.
Ted
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expounded:

on that note, is there a way to encourage wild hives to take up residence? would the wandering new queen be looking for a particular type of spot? i'm in the process of logging the back 20, & we're putting it into managed woodlands with the intent to encourage wildlife (i have at least one female Blanding's turtle of breeding size back there). what that means is that we will be leaving certain deadwood trees & snags standing for bugs & birds. if there's a particular type of dead or damaged tree that might attract bees i can make sure it gets marked to be left alone. lee
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Wandering queens do like to settle in places that have held bees previously.
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Got any hollow trees? Actually, you can put up swarm boxes and use lemon balm rubbed inside to attract swarms in season, usually mid to late spring. Then have a complete hive ready to put them in. Swarms are kinda neat, they tend to not sting (that's not an absolute) because they've engorged themselves wit honey and can't bend to insert the stinger - also, they have no home to defend, their only concern is finding a new home for themselves and their all-important queen..
Anyways, become a beekeeper, it's fun, it goes nicely with gardening and farming, and the honey (which is really the secondary economic use of honeybees, pollination is the first) is a wonderful byproduct.
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Ann wrote:

I was reading something in one of the "Mother Country Backwoods Grit News" magazines about, by breeding the ferocity out of bees, we've also bred out their ability to fight back against mites, etc.
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The Africanized bees deal with them well, it has to do with the length of the brood cycle, the AFH's brood time is shorter, so the varroa don't have time to mature before the new bee hatches. We may have bread the ferocity out of the bees, or we may have continued lines of bees that can't withstand and/or deal with the varroa, but that's changing, hygenic bees are being bred that both groom the varroa off better and that kill and remove infested pupa, thus controlling the mites themselves. As I said in another post, another point of view is to not treat at all, and let the susceptible bees die off, hopefully encouraging natural selection to let the stronger bee develop (not economically feasible if your income depends on bees). There's quite a bit going on in the honeybee world, it's a small world, but many are trying to make things right.
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Would it make sense to install a hive, bring in some bees, and just leave it alone, not harvesting honey or wax -- just give them a place to live and to pollinate the area?
cheers
oz
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