Q Flowers….We Need More
I was listening to a podcast today, found at:
As I venture into the world of queen rearing in my relatively remote piece of land in Southeastern Ontario, I’ve been doing some thinking about some of Tom Seeley’s research that has been published in ABJ on the feral colonies in upstate New York.
Compounded with a query at a recent presentation that I did at a local library where a lady asked me the question, “Do honey bees ever harm native pollinators?” I’m wondering about the carrying capacity of a given area and, as the vice president of my local guild, what is my responsibility in pushing the local city council to allow urban beekeeping vs. discouraging individuals from becoming beekeepers and instead being bee stewards by creating pollinator gardens?
I’d like to know your thoughts and whether you are aware of any current studies on the effects of managed bees on native bees, or the carrying capacity of a given urban/rural space.
Carrying capacity for these pollinators is all connected to “food”, i.e., floral resources. Honey bees and bumble bees are generalists and forage on a succession of blooming plants that provide nectar and pollen. Solitary bees are most times not generalists but have developed a relationship with certain plant flower species and those species only. If there is a lack of (the key word is “lack” of) a large variety of many kinds of flowering plants, and all of the resource collection is focused on a few species, then there is a general competition for survival and somebody is going to win and somebody isn’t for resource collection and acquisition. And this competition could be between and among honey bees and bumble bees and other pollinating bees. It all depends on the location and what is the mix and density of ALL kinds of pollinators in the area.
There is data available that is showing that climate change is having an effect on some of these plant/bee relationships. Remember that for specialist pollinators who have this specific plant flower relationship that the plant has to grow and flower at a prescribed time because the bee pollinator has to emerge from her nesting hole, tube, or tunnel in the ground at the same time the plant is blooming. If this coordination doesn’t happen the plant doesn’t get pollinated and can’t produce seeds and reproduce and the bee doesn’t have access to the flower nectar and pollen to supply her small nest with this fundamental food source so she can reproduce. They are distinctly tied together.
In some places in North America, spring is advancing sooner on the calendar, sometimes by a few weeks already. The result of warming temperatures is the plant grows and blooms earlier. The specific pollinator in many cases has not made the emergence adjustment and so misses the food resource and can’t reproduce, and so their populations have dropped. The plant population drops as well if there are no other pollinators to fill the pollination gap. The plant doesn’t care who does the pollination but the bees do.
I don’t know what the numbers are in Canada, but here in the U.S. we have approximately 40 million acres of suburban lawns consuming approximately 80 million pounds of chemicals, and 10,000 gallons of water per yard above and beyond rainfall, to keep them looking like the 18th hole at the golf course. Just think if we could convince the owners of 5%, 7%, 10% of those 40 million acres to plant some pollinator friendly forage in suburbia. I am not saying that somebody should dig up their whole lawn, but how about those areas next to the driveway or walkway, or that place in the corner of the backyard, to plant something else except useless grass? It would be an amazing resource for bees, butterflies, birds and on and on. Plant it and they will come.
We do need to not point fingers at each other, but see where gaps are in meeting and sustaining a healthy environment with opportunities to fill those gaps together, not behind the walls or gates of closed communities.
Below are a few links to interesting information about your insightful questions:
Q CEDAR HIVE…?
Hello, I am wondering if you think that cedar wood would help detract wax moths. The reason I ask is because I am a wood worker and know that if you build a chest out of cedar then moths don’t like to eat holes in blankets that you put in your chest. So I was wondering if you made a bottom board or lid or even just put a thin layer of cedar on the inner sides of the boxes if you think that it would detract the wax moths.
Waiting to hear back from you.
Many things old are new again. Recycled ideas. Not that it isn’t a good question but a couple things are going on.
Honey bees don’t like these kinds of unfamiliar odors and cover the source with propolis to contain them. If you built a cedar hive the bees would coat the interior with propolis to cover up the smell. Honey bees do this also to stabilize their environment with these tree gums, saps, and resins we call propolis. But if you want to do it because it is fun and would look cool from the outside, do it. Beekeeping should be fun as long as you are managing appropriately on the inside with this partnership with these insects.
The bees will help you on the inside part as they look for colony hive stability, but wax moth repellency isn’t part of it.
Q NO FUMIDIL-B…NOW WHAT?
First, thanks for all your help in the past and all the information you provide monthly. It’s a great service.
I wanted to get your opinion on the ads I see now that Fumagilin-B is no longer available, suggesting that you use as a replacement Super DFM Honey Bee. There are several of these products available, another being Pro DFM Honey Bee. I have tried to get some information on its ingredients and how it will help treat for Nosema which is what Fumagilin-B was used for, however so far I have not found any clear details.
Please provide me with any details and opinions you may have or can find.
Thanks for the information and your time.
Thank you for the compliment. Let’s see if I can keep your confidence.
Fumidil-B was a chemical that acted on the honey bees’ cells so that the Nosema could not pirate them and use the cells to make more Nosema. It did not act on the vegetative/growing stage of Nosema itself. Sales were not that great and so the product was dropped. Others are trying to bring it back but there were two patent holders so some negotiations have to be made.
Healthy honey bees have robust gut/intestine bacteria, yeast, even virus populations that together are called a microbiome, which helps the bee digest beebread and contributes to the overall health of the individual bee. When this balance of organisms in the microbiome is changed — or thrown off by exposure to varroacides in the colony, poor nutrition, antibiotics, toxins brought in from the environment, etc. — this allows other organisms that are not helpful to gain a foothold and dominate the gut. Like Nosema apis or cerana or both.
Kind of like you or me when we eat something that causes diarrhea, or take antibiotics that kill the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria and cause diarrhea because our microbiome is off balance. Many times fermented foods, foods that use bacteria to partially digest and change it for preservation (like yogurt, kefir, kombucha or other fermented products) rebalance our microbiome as they make their way to and through our gut. And you may have heard about people who this doesn’t work for and they have a ‘fecal transplant’ to reintroduce the correct organisms into the intestine.
The products above are like yogurt or kefir or kombucha for honey bees. But one of the biggest problems we have had in the beekeeping industry is the ….