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'The New Bees'

 
Posts: 664
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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If you’ve ever seen a rural news report or documentary from Australia, you may have noticed people doing what is called the ‘Aussie Salute’ – waving hands to brush away bothersome bush flies.

These annoying little bastards tend to swarm in the warmer months and annoy the hell out of people.

Scientists have been looking at a pollinator replacement if the introduced European honey bee gets eliminated from the environment – the humble bush fly, along with other native species, appear to be real contenders:


THE NEW BEES



 
pollinator
Posts: 1073
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Do you have Africanized bees there?  Some beekeepers think Africanized bees will survive most of the pests that weaken hives, at least partially because they are so fierce. Also they swarm constantly, creating new hives. I guess in some areas they’ve changed the genetics of the local bees.   Some hives are totally unworkable, but I guess some  aren’t too bad.

We don’t have Africanized bees here. I hope they never get this far north, but small hive beetles wipe out any weak hives fast. They make an unbelievable mess of the hive too.  I kind of like thinking that at least the Africanized bees can deal with them.

 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 1073
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Does New South Wales have any other  pollinators?  I don’t think the loss of honeybees would be quite as disastrous as some people say. It would be bad, but honeybees aren’t even native here.  We have a lot of native bees. If you look like closely at an organic apple tree in bloom, you usually see a lot of different kinds of insects on the flowers.

Attracting flies might be a good idea.  Honeybees really do have problems. My brother has a  1/4 mile long drive way with hundred year old cedars. Everyone one of them has hollows that bees could live. Usually, a few of them have honeybees. There haven’t been any for a couple years. I have seen a lot of bumblebees.

I used to keep around six hives. I’ve lost them all twice during the summer.  I can’t take the heat to check the bees in the summer because I have bad kidneys. They swarm, then the beetles destroy the honey, then the wax moths go after the wax and even the wood in the hive.  I’ve quit beekeeping, after I get a kidney transplant I might try again.

 
F Agricola
Posts: 664
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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We don't have African Bees in Australia yet, though we do have three other non-natives, which seem to be reasonably harmless to native species.

The entire country has a variety of pollinators: native and introduced bees and wasps, other insects, marsupials, flying fox, microbats, etc.

Most of the research done here is to cover the 'what if' scenario's of quarantine failures e.g. African Swine Fever hasn't arrived here yet, but the Government and Farmers are preparing for it just in case. Today's news report a Vietnamese tourist has had their travel visa revoked because they tried to enter the country with pork products - WTF, how stupid can someone be! (A lot of Asian visitors tend to be oblivious to these issues for some reason, and don't realise they could potentially wipe-out agriculture.)


 
pollinator
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F Agricola wrote:
Scientists have been looking at a pollinator replacement if the introduced European honey bee gets eliminated from the environment – the humble bush fly, along with other native species, appear to be real contenders:



The "what if..." scenario here is rather absurd. No where in the world have local populations of honey bees been driven extinct by diseases, or by modern industrial agricultural practices. The worst that has happened is local populations temporarily crash then recover. This is bad for beekeepers and farmers, but the species is fine.
 
F Agricola
Posts: 664
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Michael Cox wrote:

F Agricola wrote:
Scientists have been looking at a pollinator replacement if the introduced European honey bee gets eliminated from the environment – the humble bush fly, along with other native species, appear to be real contenders:



The "what if..." scenario here is rather absurd. No where in the world have local populations of honey bees been driven extinct by diseases, or by modern industrial agricultural practices. The worst that has happened is local populations temporarily crash then recover. This is bad for beekeepers and farmers, but the species is fine.




In our varied climate, the European Bee needs to compete with a lot of other pollinators and predators, not forgetting weather extremes, reduction in forage due to climate and bush fires, unexplained colony collapse, etc. We have droughts that can last for a decade, so the possibility of the ‘perfect storm’ is always near.

The article is all about R & D and addressing potential threats, for example, Australia doesn’t have the Varroa mite or the diseases it vectors into colonies. It is obviously aimed at economics - environmentally, the loss of introduced bees would not be an issue as their place would be filled by natives, hence the article.

The article was posted to make others aware of the alternatives if they observe a decline in bees or other local pollinators. This would affect local food production, especially those reliant on the home (Permaculture) garden.

Also, it’s important to note that Australia does not subsidise farmers, unlike the UK (pre-Brexit), and many other countries, where farmers apparently get upwards of 50% of their income via different UK and EU schemes.

So, any threat to competitiveness is very important, particularly when the playing field has a significant slope to the advantage of other nations. A key selling point for our produce is its perception of being ‘clean and green’ by our close neighbours in Asia; together with value-adding, that is obviously a major selling point and competitive advantage – we don’t have BSE, FMD or Rabies.

Another example of a threat mitigation strategy is our National Bee Pest Surveillance Program – an early warning network of ‘sentinel hives’ located throughout Australia, particularly at high risk sites around shipping and air ports, to test for quarantine incursions.

If/when the UK leaves the EU, and most likely loses that +50% edge, it would be very unwise of farmers and their government not to be proactive in all avenues of threat minimisation e.g. the cost of BSE alone was enormous for both the UK and USA, not forgetting the effects on the poor animals that contracted it.


 
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