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Old 04-13-2018, 03:49 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Wisconsin
bumblebee Honey Bees versus Native Bees

The "Save the Pollinators" effort has gained a lot of attention in the last couple of years. Unfortunately the public's perception of pollinators is the honey bee.

Beekeepers have suffered a higher rate of losses in recent years, but the number of honey bees hasn't actually declined. Beekeepers have simply increased the rate of honey bee colony production, albeit at a higher cost.

Native bees on the other hand have suffered some significant declines. One bumble bee for example (the rusty patched) has declined so much that it has been placed on the endangered species list.

In a nutshell, the Save the Pollinators effort has been mostly focused on saving the wrong bees.

Scientists have been aware of this situation for some time. Some recent studies have focused on this problem and come up with some interesting results.

One recent study came up with an interesting way to measure the negative impact that honey bees are having on native bees:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/conl.12263
Quote:
Experimental demonstration of direct exploitative competition between foraging honey bees and native bees in wildlands has proven elusive, due to problems of experimental design, scale, and context‐dependence. We propose a different approach that translates floral resources collected by a honey bee colony into progeny equivalents of an average solitary bee. Such a metric is needed by public land managers confronting migratory beekeeper demands for insecticide‐free, convenient, resource‐rich habitats for summering. We calculate that, from JuneľAugust, a strong colony gathers as much pollen as could produce 100,000 progeny of an average solitary bee. Analogous to the animal unit month (AUM) for livestock, a hive unit month (HUM) is therefore 33,000 native bee progeny. By this calculation, a 40‐hive apiary residing on wildlands for 3 months collects the pollen equivalent of four million wild bees. We introduce a rapid assessment metric to gauge stocking of honey bees, and briefly highlight alternative strategies to provide quality pasture for honey bees with minimal impact on native bees.
Another recent study did a survey of past research to see to what extent honey bees harm native bees:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5722319/#
Quote:
Managed bees are critical for crop pollination worldwide. As the demand for pollinator-dependent crops increases, so does the use of managed bees. Concern has arisen that managed bees may have unintended negative impacts on native wild bees, which are important pollinators in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. The goal of this study was to synthesize the literature documenting the effects of managed honey bees and bumble bees on wild bees in three areas: (1) competition for floral and nesting resources, (2) indirect effects via changes in plant communities, including the spread of exotic plants and decline of native plants, and (3) transmission of pathogens. The majority of reviewed studies reported negative effects of managed bees, but trends differed across topical areas. Of studies examining competition, results were highly variable with 53% reporting negative effects on wild bees, while 28% reported no effects and 19% reported mixed effects (varying with the bee species or variables examined). Equal numbers of studies examining plant communities reported positive (36%) and negative (36%) effects, with the remainder reporting no or mixed effects. Finally, the majority of studies on pathogen transmission (70%) reported potential negative effects of managed bees on wild bees. ...
Honey bees are a commercial agricultural livestock, much like raising chickens, hogs, etc. They are very important in some agricultural operations like pollinating the large monocultures of almond trees in California. But when they are done pollinating the almonds serious thought needs to be given to where they are going to go for their floral resources for the remainder of the year. Placing them at locations where they will use up the floral resources (pollen and nectar) of native bees is going to harm native bee populations.
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Old 04-15-2018, 08:12 PM   #2
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This is the outfit I've been working with even though "working" is a tad misleading since I did zip last year. Have an idea in the pipeline but have yet to test it.

Bumble Boosters Project | Pollinator Education and Conservation
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