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time to replace the European honey bee?

 
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I'm going to wait a few years while others deal with all the financial risk.



I have bees but no financial risk because I am merely the landlord. It must be a good spot too because all of the owners other hives did not survive this winter or last. If the bears didn't wreck the hives, then something else got them.

My LGDs keep the bears away. Being in the middle of the woods may be mitigating the other risks.
 
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I have catmint (catnip's showy cousin) and its covered in bees the whole time it blooms. Not to mention fritillary butterflies and a multitude of other pollinators, even bumblebees. Interestingly, though, I did see the bees chase off one species of fly that annoyed them, presumably because it was huge and loud. They might chase off the yellowjackets too, but I've never seen them do it with anything else. They even leave me alone when I disturb them by brushing against the plant to get to the water faucet. Chives also attract these insects, not quite in the same droves, but earlier, the seasons overlapping nicely.
I'm all for all pollinators sticking around, even yellowjackets, which scare me.
And nature is all about balance. If mites are honeybee predators, something else predates on the mites. (Unless you think someone genetically engineered the mites as a biological weapon? No, I don't.) "Super-predators" tend not to last long in nature.
 
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pv agroforest wrote:

John Polk wrote:
Corn is primarily wind pollinated.  That is why it is typically planted in blocks vs rows.
A 10 foot by 10 foot block will produce many times more corn that a 100 foot row.



corn is wind pollinated but many bees still really like to collect the pollen for their own use.  Bt corn is one of the suspects in "colony collapse disorder" as is the neonicitinoid systemic insecticides that are sometimes applied to the seed.  Personally I find it hard to believe the trace amounts in a seed treatment are sufficient to have this effect on bees (they are exposed to it via the pollen) but for sure neonicitinoids have extremely deleterious effects on bees.  I have seen native bumblebees directly exposed to bt in high concentrations (not from GM corn) and from an unscientific observation it seemed to have drastic effect on the colony so could be a possibility imo.



Neonicotinoid residues have also been found in soil, dust, planter exhaust, and mature plants, both wild, weedy, and cultivated, where the pesticides have been applied. This indicates that neonicotinoids most likely are contaminating the environment and working their way up the food chain.
 
pollinator
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The most notable polinators at my place are the humming birds. Sometimes they eat honey bees. I'm surrounded by miles of forest along a river valley that has many species of birds, so it's possible that other bee predators besides the bears are keeping them from becoming dominant.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I started this thread, about replacing honey bees with native pollinators, almost two years ago. This is a newer one -- http://www.permies.com/t/27213/bees/Honey-Bees-Work-Monsanto-Roundup#218576 The two topics naturally go together. These topics both take a dim view of the present state of bee keeping. My issue with this business has always been centered on attacking agribusiness. Many on this forum, raise bees in a manner that is good for permaculture and good for the bees. It has never been my intent to slander any of you or to imply that there is anything wrong with that. Whenever I tackle a topic where we have a villain, I like to hammer away at them relentlessly, like a fighter who has his opponent on the ropes. In such a battle, feelings can get bruised when people see that their little niche is being picked on. I'd like to see many small bee keepers in my corner, now that it's clear that we have a common enemy.
 
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I have heard that native pollinators due to good of a job pollinating trees. This causes to much fruit on the tree, limiting the size as well as having the possibility for damage to the tree due to the extra weight of the fruit.

I think that the decline of the honeybee is more of an indication of what is happening to all pollinators. I doubt that we are hurting only the honey bee. More likely we are just able to see the damage done to the honey bees better due to the fact that People keep them in colonies. Also we are most likely seeing the damage happening quicker because of the massive amount of miles that we tend to move them each year. I also do not think that it is very helpful for the honey bees to be feeding them sugar water all the time. That has got to be lowering their immune systems.
 
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Bees became my obsession this year. I will probably never recover from this infliction and I am happy about that. The European honey bee was replaced as soon as the bees adapted to their new environment as far as I am concerned. The honey bee is remarkable in the way it can adapt to a new area, akin to a feral pig.

What needs to be replaced is the commercial migratory pollinator. Their practices of husbandry are some of the worst our world has to offer and is overlooked because it is an insect we are talking about here. I have come to the conclusion that the "commercial pollinator" will never change their ways due to the human condition and they have their faces buried in the pie. It is up to us new "beekeepers" to start out clean.
 
pollinator
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Dale
want to keep bees for FREE? read on http://www.biobees.com/how_to_start_beekeeping.php

I would wish to keep these bees but they are not suitable for hives unfortunetly
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Xylocopa_violacea_in_Sardinia,_Italy.jpg

David
 
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Just to weigh in on beekeeping from a non-commercial perspective. Where we live, here in NWPA European honey bees are thriving in the wild. Last year I turned down several swarms, but took 4 and did several cut out outs of native colonies, but turned down several more. I just did not have the time or the equipment to take all the swarms and cut outs offered to me. Here is my take on natural and affordable beekeeping: I like native swarms and colonies and I do not buy bees! When one considers that bees here are reproducing fairly often and that the natural colonies have had the characteristics and genetics that have encouraged them to naturally survive in this environment, I like what that offers. Considering that the queens that I get have come from colonies that are local survivors and have cross bred with 17 to 20 drones from other survival colonies, I like the genetic variations that this offers. To keep with the “local and natural” idea, I buy rough sawn local hemlock from a local Amish mill, air dry it for a couple of months, plane it and build hives, frames and other parts from this lumber, (OK it is local and at least half the price as home depot). I hope to finish building a set of rollers to mill wax foundation sheets from our own wax, especially since we do not chemically treat our bees. I also do not believe that we should be transporting the hive around, but house them year around in areas that are not exposed to pesticides and herbicides. I only wish that others with in range of our hive would stop planting GMO crops and spraying, but that will take time!
Even thought the little ladies are an invasive species that have gained a foothold here, I feel that at least we can try to work with nature rather than against nature. Even with the colonies next to our garden we still see a lot of bumble bees and the usual local bees in the garden. I feel that even though they do co-exist and compete, that by providing a more nature, health environment I think that they can all benefit.
 
Dale Hodgins
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David Livingston wrote:Dale
want to keep bees for FREE? read on http://www.biobees.com/how_to_start_beekeeping.php

I would wish to keep these bees but they are not suitable for hives unfortunetly
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Xylocopa_violacea_in_Sardinia,_Italy.jpg

David



I'll bet that black bee heats up early in the morning.

The top bar hive seems like a more forgiving system where simpler carpentry skills are required. YouTube has some video. Actually, they have 100 hours more added every minute, so my goal of watching it all will never be realized.


I still believe that the bees who travel great distances are a plague of disease that props up chemical farming.
What's the sneakiest way to kill only those bees while leaving the others unharmed ?
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
What's the sneakiest way to kill only those bees while leaving the others unharmed ?



BAU!
 
Dale Hodgins
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I was thinking of something that would eat them or scare them off. Needs to be something perfectly legal and natural. Host a colony of bee hungry birds, or a million native pollinators or some other tough to prove action. In some areas, this could be an attractant and a bug zapper that feeds fish or chickens.

The problem would be in limiting the catch to the desired victims along with mosquitos. We don't want to zap all of the bumble bees and mason bees.
 
David Livingston
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There you are Dale just the thing .
http://www.birdguides.com/species/species.asp?sp=087020
And they look good too

David
 
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Dave Miller wrote:

John Polk wrote:
A serious problem in most orchards is that other than the crop trees, all other vegetation is removed.  There is no habitat for the wild pollinators.  This is why they need to import the honey bee hives.

The California almond industry uses most of the available US hives at blossom time.  Their demand is so great, that each year cargo planes of bee hives are flown in from Australia to service the almond orchards.  That cannot be sustainable!

Some of the more progressive orchardists are beginning to replant native plants around their trees, in hopes of attracting native pollinators.  The monoculture model is failing.  If "we" cannot reverse the trends, it will indeed be a hungry world.



My neighbor is an "almond farmer by proxy" near Fresno, California.  i.e. his parents are farmers in the area and he purchased 20 acres next to his parents property, and converted it from grapes to almonds a couple of years ago.  His dad's crew does most of the work on the land, but my neighbor does go down several times a year to perform certain work on the farm.  He was telling me all the work that is required to produce almonds (including renting bees) and how the timing has to be just right otherwise you won't get a crop.  And of course everyone needs the bees at the same time, so they are super expensive to rent.  I tried to encourage him to plant some native pollinator host plants around the edges of his property, but I was not able to sway him, mainly because the ground has to be completely bare in order to harvest the almonds with some kind of sweeper machine. 

I am wondering if anyone knows of any almond orchard that uses native pollinators?  I think if he could see a successful example he might give it a try.



Wonder if hanging baskets of flowering herbs, or flowers with long or successive blooming cycles, would attract the native pollinators and keep the ground bare for the sweeper machine. Perhaps hanging from a south facing branch in a way that didn't disturb the tree. Whatever he chooses, of course, would need to bloom at the time the almond trees need to be pollinated. Then he could sell his herb/flower baskets as a second source of income.
 
master pollinator
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Hey Dale,

Any news on the bee front? How are your native pollinators doing? Are you thinking about jumping on the honey bee wagon yet, or are you still holding out?

-CK
 
Dale Hodgins
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Chris Kott wrote:Hey Dale,

Any news on the bee front? How are your native pollinators doing? Are you thinking about jumping on the honey bee wagon yet, or are you still holding out?

-CK



Just saw this one. My native pollinators are still doing great, because there is nothing to spray in my area. That's pretty much natural forest in all directions.

I haven't done anything with bees, mostly because I've been caught up in Demolition and Salvage work away from the farm. I'm happy to buy honey from those who are already in that business.

My work takes me to some fairly wild places and I also spend some time in areas that are mostly commercial crops. I continue to see honey bees outnumber all others, in places that are poisoned. In relatively untouched areas, bumblebees, mason bees and many others abound.
 
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