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Apple 

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What evidence do you have on wild bees coping, there are a handful of researched areas boasting wild bees coping. Results with these bees are very mixed when the researchers get there. Not sure there’s a huge amount of evidence for that four years either a large proportion of colonies don’t make it the first year. A friend had an unmanaged colony in a skep display for well over a decade they rarely made even the Start of the third season. As someone who over the years has done a huge number of removals the vast majority do not look like thriving examples of pre varroa and many look like recent occupations of previous dead outs. It’s also not uncommon to look at a entrance and expect to find a reasonable colony inside only to be disappointed and find a colony just hanging in there.
I think there is a need to define WILD or FERAL
Wild bees do not seem to exist in the main body of the UK, possibly some do in remote parts of the island of Ireland.
However FERAL bees are common... escapees from maintained ( or not) beekeepers colonies.
No surprise then that they (FERAL BEES) have Varroa and all of the viruses associated with them.

Just a point I feel is worth a mention.

Chons da
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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I think there is a need to define WILD or FERAL
As Tom Seeley said in this year's Ulster convention 'There'a no such thing as a feral bee - they're all wild, even the ones in hives'
 

Apple 

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As Tom Seeley said in this year's Ulster convention 'There'a no such thing as a feral bee - they're all wild, even the ones in hives'
Bees once were defined as Animalis ferae... Animals that are wild by nature are called ferae naturae, and possession is a means of acquiring title to such animals.
Now bees kept by a beekeeper are defined as "food producing stock"... a subtle change that meant that bees could not be kept on "set aside" land... and brought bees into line with other stock kept by farmers.
Odd thing is that alpacas are all considered to be wild!
Where is Thorn when you need some legal technicalities ?
 

Buzzlodge 

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What evidence do you have on wild bees coping,
Personal observation. I have a wild colony in the roof for the past 7 years. The scenario I described is what has happened. Colony died out August of 4th year, repopulated May of 5th year and going strong since. It's not necessary for an individual colony site to be permanently occupied for the species to survive.
 

Ian123 

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Unfortunately stating that bees are coping well in the wild based on one persons observation of a single colony is a bit of a stretch. Even if your bees in the roof have tolerant qualities they are more then likely to be lost the next season when they swarm. If you look into breeding tolerant bees it certainly is being done, however these traits are lost when the bees are removed from the closed pool. And you’ll forgive a certain amount of scepticism over many years these forums have seen wonder hives that cure all bees ills, varroa cures, wonder bees and even divining beeks with rods in their hands!!!!Few of us are yet to see these wonders working in the real world😇
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Personal observation. I have a wild colony in the roof for the past 7 years. The scenario I described is what has happened. Colony died out August of 4th year, repopulated May of 5th year and going strong since. It's not necessary for an individual colony site to be permanently occupied for the species to survive.
But where did the colony that repopulated the roof on year 5 come from?
Good chance the swarm came from a managed colony somewhere else in the area.
So without managed (hived) colonies your 'wild colony' was doomed
 

Apple 

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Unfortunately stating that bees are coping well in the wild based on one persons observation of a single colony is a bit of a stretch. Even if your bees in the roof have tolerant qualities they are more then likely to be lost the next season when they swarm. If you look into breeding tolerant bees it certainly is being done, however these traits are lost when the bees are removed from the closed pool. And you’ll forgive a certain amount of scepticism over many years these forums have seen wonder hives that cure all bees ills, varroa cures, wonder bees and even divining beeks with rods in their hands!!!!Few of us are yet to see these wonders working in the real world😇
I must be the odd one out as one of the "divining beeks with rods in their hands"
I have over time located a number of feral colony sites, using the method of divining, some of those sites having been in occupancy by black bees for at least 200 years... according to referance of a single farming family written records in Cornwall!

Just because one dose not have the intellect to understand, or can not pare the facts down to a reductionist ideal.... pray do not poo poo those who have the intellect to think hollistically.

Chons da
 
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Boston Bees 

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All colonies, managed or in trees, are doomed of course, after (usually) creating several daughter colonies before they die or abscond.

The main difference is that in managed colonies we continue to use the box, which may even contain one of the daughter queens, and we replace the wax, whereas for tree colonies that particular tree may be abandoned until wax moth clean up the old wax, and another tree (or chimney populated instead).

Plenty of dead-out tree nests are repopulated from managed hives. But then the reverse is also true - plenty of my beehives are filled with bees that came from a swarm from a local tree. Works both ways.
 

Apple 

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All colonies, managed or in trees, are doomed of course, after (usually) creating several daughter colonies before they die or abscond.

The main difference is that in managed colonies we continue to use the box, which may even contain one of the daughter queens, and we replace the wax, whereas for tree colonies that particular tree may be abandoned until wax moth clean up the old wax, and another tree (or chimney populated instead).

Plenty of dead-out tree nests are repopulated from managed hives. But then the reverse is also true - plenty of my beehives are filled with bees that came from a swarm from a local tree. Works both ways.
Feral colony sites can be a reserve of disease.... I know of one beefarmer and former forum member up on Exmoor who fills any likely cavity with builders foam to prevent his colonies of Super Buckfast bees from being infected with EFB!
 

mbc 

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Unfortunately stating that bees are coping well in the wild based on one persons observation of a single colony is a bit of a stretch. Even if your bees in the roof have tolerant qualities they are more then likely to be lost the next season when they swarm. If you look into breeding tolerant bees it certainly is being done, however these traits are lost when the bees are removed from the closed pool. And you’ll forgive a certain amount of scepticism over many years these forums have seen wonder hives that cure all bees ills, varroa cures, wonder bees and even divining beeks with rods in their hands!!!!Few of us are yet to see these wonders working in the real world😇
I believe honey bees react to stress in population groups rather than individual colonies so whatever the stress, be it varroa/virus, poor summer or influx of strange genes the level of anxiety in a whole area can raise, leading to stress responses, often this can manifest as individual colonies, almost altruisticaly, sending out lots of swarms with little chance of survival. I may be wrong, but I've a feeling this creates a wider net to gather resources and any surviving colonies are destined to plunder the gatherings of those with no hope before winter to give them the resources, plus the stress test of the pathogens, of those colonies that succumb. I concede it's a bit wild and difficult to prove but it can explain what I've observed here over many seasons.
The vast majority of swarms thrown this "summer" here in West Wales for example will come to nought (unless taken under the wing of a beneficent beekeeper), by vast majority I'd hazard a guess as less than 1% making it through till crossover next spring, this therefore can't really be an effort to continue with those genes but to give possibly unrelated survivors a better chance.
 
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Apple 

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I believe honey bees react to stress in population groups rather than individual colonies so whatever the stress, be it varroa/virus, poor summer or influx of strange genes the level of anxiety in a whole area can raise, leading to stress responses, often this can manifest as individual colonies, almost altruisticaly, sending out lots of swarms with little chance of survival. I may be wrong, but I've a feeling this creates a wider net to gather resources and any surviving colonies are destined to plunder the gatherings of those with no hope before winter to give them the resources, plus the stress test of the pathogens, of those colonies that succumb. I concede it's a bit wild and difficult to prove but it can explain what I've observed here over many seasons.
The vast majority of swarms thrown this "summer" here in West Wales for example will come to nought (unless taken under the wing of a beneficent beekeeper), by vast majority I'd hazard a guess as less than 1% making it through till crossover next spring.
True...
I am beginning to have doubts about the surviveability of some of the managed colonies in this neck of the woods... have seen a few 2 hive owners colonies starve so far this season, as the beekeeper was under the belief that as they had not taken any honey off, the bees did not not need any additional feeding as they could look after themselves!
Chons da
 

Boston Bees 

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Feral colony sites can be a reserve of disease
Of course, this is true.

Though sadly, managed colony sites can also be a reserve of disease.

I have not seen any statistics to show whether serious disease (say EFB or AFB) is more likely to be found in feral or managed locations. I did watch a lecture by Roger Patterson from a couple of years ago where he stated that he had never encountered foul brood in a non-managed colony, but that's just one person (albeit one person who has done an awful lot of cutouts).
 

Murox 

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I believe honey bees react to stress in population groups rather than individual colonies so whatever the stress, be it varroa/virus, poor summer or influx of strange genes the level of anxiety in a whole area can raise, leading to stress responses, often this can manifest as individual colonies, almost altruistically, sending out lots of swarms with little chance of survival. .................edit...............
:ot: Intriguing hypothesis but the similarities.............. are perhaps analogous of the millions of displaced peoples who simply want to be free to live.
 

Hachi 

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Damn! A lot more than I ever thought I'd have
As Tom Seeley said in this year's Ulster convention 'There'a no such thing as a feral bee - they're all wild, even the ones in hives'
That definitely resonates with my bee's :)
 

oxnatbees 

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Ian seems to be fighting a one man battle here. The majority of the rest of us believe we have seen many wild nests doing nicely.

Let's inject some data into these opinions.

Our group collects 20-30 swarms each year, mainly from untreated colones (ours and wild nests). About the only place we won't take swarms from is Kidlington, which has really vicious bees. In an entirely unrelated bit of news, our local BKA circulated a note from a beekeeper there asking if anyone would like to buy some unmanageable colonies there which "followed" a lot. Descended from Carniolan and Buckfast queens.

It's quite obvious there is a widespread wild population here which deals with varroa somehow. Breeders concentrate on one measurable super-trait which rapidly gets diluted; wild bees shift the sliders on a bunch of already present behaviours to express each slightly more and this seems stable.

Our colonies typically last 2 - 4 years. Over 200 colonies, I've only heard of a couple that died from varroa, but if you collect random swarms you're going to get some headed by commercial bees from time to time. The main failure mode is queen failure, occasionally winter starvation. Overall winter losses are the same (arguably better but sample size is only about 100 colonies / year) than the BBKAs published figures. How long do commercial colonies last? No one knows, because the queens are replaced every 1-2 years. As I see it, then, they last 1-2 years.
 

Gilberdyke John 

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Of course, this is true.

Though sadly, managed colony sites can also be a reserve of disease.

I have not seen any statistics to show whether serious disease (say EFB or AFB) is more likely to be found in feral or managed locations. I did watch a lecture by Roger Patterson from a couple of years ago where he stated that he had never encountered foul brood in a non-managed colony, but that's just one person (albeit one person who has done an awful lot of cutouts).
Perhaps skewed by asking why anyone would perform a cut out on a dead or almost dead colony?
 

Mint Bee 

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Oxford Natural Bees

Request for clarification of your data
How do you define or analysis for commercial bees? there are a number of types available for purchase.
Does your preference for wild bees dictate that you do not perform any queen breeding in your group?
If so, does this lead to you group opposing introduction of AMM type bees, as these are not currently wild (in vast majority of country)?
Can you provide any data on how many commercial bee farmers replace their queens (and numbers of queens actually replaced) a) every year, b) every 2 years, c) with a failing queen?
Thanks
 

oxnatbees 

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Hi Mint Bee,

I define a commercial beeas anything from a human breeder - anything sold. Buckfast, Italian, Carniolan are the obvious. I guess I shuld qualify that by saying I have no experience of anyone buying local bees; I'm prepared to believe bees selected from a local landrace (say within 20-30 miles) would be fine without chemical treatments.

Correct, we let the bees do the selection.

Not opposed to Amm as they were the original landrace and should re-inject lost genes. However, I did wing morphometry on my colonies oneyear and the ones that did worst were both pretty pure Amm - casts I caught next to a nature reserve where I suspect someone had bought some Amm from, maybe, Cornwall. the local landrace seems to be a mix of Amm-Italian-Buckfast by the wing morphology. However the bees in the area are generally getting darker year by year, I think, probably as people get more aware of the problems of aggression and varroa with bees they buy; so I ought to redo those measurements sometime.

> Can you provide any data on how many commercial bee farmers replace their queens (and numbers of queens actually replaced) a) every year, b) every 2 years, c) with a failing queen?

No, but I note the BBKA training seems to go on about replacing queens every Autumn or every other Autumn in their training; I believe it's mentioned a few times in Steve Donohoe's book on bee farmers if you care to examine that (it's a few hundred pages). An interesting side note: in the USA some queens apparently fail after 6 months. A researcher got interested in this and found the queens tended to be supplied from southern US states via the US postal service, he ordered some but had the suppliers put temperature loggers in the packages. It turned out the US post was letting them heat up to 40+C en route for a few hours (hot vans in the sun I suppose). When he simulated this in the lab in controlled conditions he found this killed most of the sperm they were carrying. That, at least, is one ssue we don't have in the UK.
 

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