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Coexisting with a wild hive

 
Dan Boone
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Hey, I just discovered a wild hive living in a tree cavity about 30 feet from my ancient pear tree. (I'd estimate about 100 bees per minute going in and out of a cavity in a standing dead tree.) It's an out of the way spot and I plan to just steer well clear of them for the most part. I have no interest in active bee-keeping or messing with them; I like honey but the land-owner has a terrible fear of all bees and if I started actively managing these little buggers, she'd probably get nervous and start muttering about exterminators. (Yeah, I know. We don't want that.)

My once concern is that the bees might be Africanized. Even if they are, I expect to just leave them alone, but I've got a lot of comfort level with regular bees that I don't have with Africanized ones. Knowing which these are would tell me more about how much space I need to safely give them. I do have a frequently-used path that goes within about 25 feet of the hive.

So, how do I tell? Do I need to capture a bee and inspect it? If they're Africanized, I don't want to start messing with bees anywhere near that hive, so how would I safely do that?

All suggestions gratefully accepted.
 
tel jetson
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I believe Oklahoma winters are rather too severe for Africanized bees, so I wouldn't sweat it.
 
Michael Cox
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With normal bees you can walk within a few meters of a hive - the bees tend to fly out and up to go foraging, rather than hang around in the immediate area. I don't have bees right now, but previously they used to be within 10ft of a frequently used wood pile.

If you did want them gone from the tree you could try a hogan style trapout ( or get a friendly bee keeper to do it for you) - a non destructive way of removing bees from a cavity, without chemicals.
 
Dan Boone
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I believe Oklahoma winters are rather too severe for Africanized bees, so I wouldn't sweat it.


Unfortunately the Oklahoma Dept. Of Agriculture is of a different mind. They report Africanized bees in my county since 2008.

Sadly the same source says "only an expert can tell them apart." If that's real, and not patronizing pablum, then I wasted everybody's time with this thread.

With normal bees you can walk within a few meters of a hive - the bees tend to fly out and up to go foraging, rather than hang around in the immediate area.


I definitely got within a few meters of this hive without problems. However I don't know how reliable a diagnostic that is. I have no experience with the Africanized bees; I know they are often aggressive, but I doubt their aggression is universal in all circumstances.

I guess I'll just have to tread lightly and stay alert to signs of bee behavior that seem more aggressive than I would expect.
 
Terri Matthews
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I have found this to be a good source of bee information: http://www.beesource.com/

With domestic bees, they are not interested in you unless you are a nectar-bearing flower or within a few feet of their hive. Basically, if you are not edible or a threat they simply do not CARE! The problem with Africanized bees, as you have already mentioned, their idea of a person being "too close" to a hive is completely unreasonable!
 
Ludger Merkens
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I definitely got within a few meters of this hive without problems. However I don't know how reliable a diagnostic that is. I have no experience with the Africanized bees; I know they are often aggressive, but I doubt their aggression is universal in all circumstances.


Well if you can go within a few meters without problems, what do you care about them beeing africanized? If you have africanized bees, with reasonable low agression - no problem. If you have non africanized bees, with reasonable low agression - no problem. If the behaviour changes towards more agression, you have a problem. But as you don't want to breed them, the reason behind this change won't matter to you.

I'd suggest, you promise to your land-owner to check every week or so, if the bees still behave calmly. As long, as they don't make any problems, just leave them be.
If they actually start to develop agressive tendencies, ask a bee keeper, what to do about them.
 
Dan Boone
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Ludger Merkens wrote:Well if you can go within a few meters without problems, what do you care about them being africanized?


The buried assumption there is that they'll behave the same way every time I walk down that path. I'm not sure that's a safe assumption. I started this thread hoping that some bee people might know a clever way to ID these bees, but it sounds like (from research I've done since) that I'm asking for the impossible.


If they actually start to develop agressive tendencies, ask a bee keeper, what to do about them.


Oh, don't worry. I know what to do about them in that case, but it's not something I'd be discussing on permies.com.

Fear not, I want to co-exist with these bees and I will if they give me half a chance.
 
Ludger Merkens
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The buried assumption there is that they'll behave the same way every time I walk down that path. I'm not sure that's a safe assumption.


Well, you can assume that a bee hive will behave pretty much the same, as long as the queen doesn't change. Behaviour is mainly genetically encoded in bees, so if the mother changes, the genes change and the behaviour will change. If you now have 'pure' european honey bees, the risk that the next generation of bees is africanized depends on the number of africanized colonies in the area.
(The next queen, is almost always a doughter of the current queen, but will mate with one or more africanized drones) If you already have a calm africanized strain, chances are, they don't change their behaviour very much.

Additionaly, bees change their behaviour with the weather. E.g. they tend to be more agressive on hot and humid days. So all you can do is - check.
 
Dan Boone
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Thanks! That's useful info I did not have before.
 
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