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Question for Christy -- Honey Bees vs Native Bees

 
pollinator
Posts: 643
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Welcome Christy!

I have a two-part question for you...
We have considered trying to raise bees on our homestead for years, but always decided against them because we were afraid they might out-compete native pollinators for the same resources. However, with so many of the pollinators -- native or not -- falling victim to environmental degradation, disease, etc. maybe ANY bee is better than none? Also, I do wonder if the thinking about competition between natives and introduced bees is not something of a myth anyway. It certainly seems as if there is plenty of pollen to go around. What is your opinion on that score?

Looking forward to your answer. Thanks!
 
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Deb Stephens wrote:Welcome Christy!

I have a two-part question for you...
We have considered trying to raise bees on our homestead for years, but always decided against them because we were afraid they might out-compete native pollinators for the same resources. However, with so many of the pollinators -- native or not -- falling victim to environmental degradation, disease, etc. maybe ANY bee is better than none? Also, I do wonder if the thinking about competition between natives and introduced bees is not something of a myth anyway. It certainly seems as if there is plenty of pollen to go around. What is your opinion on that score?

Looking forward to your answer. Thanks!



I don't know that there's a whole lot of competition. Different bees pollinate different plants. For instance - a tomato plant needs to be pollinated by a bumblebee, because the frequency of the bumble's wings is what opens the pollen. Honeybees have little to do with the pollination of tomatoes. Other plants have similar stories to tell, and the honeybee has its limitations. The thing that is semi-amazing about honeybees is their "monofloral" habit - meaning that when they venture from the hive, they visit only plants of the same species on that trip. They don't go from dandelion to apple to pear to clover. And you don't get dandy-apples. A honeybee goes from dandelion to dandelion to dandelion to dandelion to back to the hive. Or apple to apple to apple to apple. So their efficiency as pollinators is high in that way.

So if you are interested in keeping honey bees naturally, on their own natural wax and without chemical treatments, I think you're taking a big step in the right direction, and that's probably a helpful thing.


-- Christy
 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Christy Hemenway wrote:
I don't know that there's a whole lot of competition. Different bees pollinate different plants. For instance - a tomato plant needs to be pollinated by a bumblebee, because the frequency of the bumble's wings is what opens the pollen. Honeybees have little to do with the pollination of tomatoes. Other plants have similar stories to tell, and the honeybee has its limitations. The thing that is semi-amazing about honeybees is their "monofloral" habit - meaning that when they venture from the hive, they visit only plants of the same species on that trip. They don't go from dandelion to apple to pear to clover. And you don't get dandy-apples. A honeybee goes from dandelion to dandelion to dandelion to dandelion to back to the hive. Or apple to apple to apple to apple. So their efficiency as pollinators is high in that way.

So if you are interested in keeping honey bees naturally, on their own natural wax and without chemical treatments, I think you're taking a big step in the right direction, and that's probably a helpful thing.


-- Christy



Thanks Christy, that is certainly good to know. I have always leaned more toward bee-keeping than against, and it is nice to know that "kept" bees are probably not going to interfere with our natives. Although I am mostly interested in bees for pollination purposes, it doesn't hurt to have a small supply of the sweet stuff and a bit of wax now and again either. I think they will love our place since it has never had a drop of chemicals on it for over 22 years that we have been here (and probably none even before that since we live in the middle of nowhere right up against thousands of acres of national forest). Our glades are full of wildflowers and the seeps, springs and creek nearby offer plenty of water. Now to find a swarm!

 
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