Shirley Pinchev
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Are honey bee invasive species?

I was reading about the National Honey Bee Day for an article for our blog and was surprised that some gardeners and even Master Gardeners consider honey bees invasive species and try to keep bee keepers out of certain areas of the country. With 70 - 80% of all our food pollinated by bees, I was stunned with this news. Perhaps someone on this forum can explain. We are still going to share the publicity for Honey Bee Day with our readers. I am sure there is a political part to this controversy - but who could be against honey bees?

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Allyn
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

I know Africanized honey bees are invasive and very dangerous. I hadn't heard about any other species of honey bees considered invasive and undesirable in the US. I'll watch this thread with interest to see what others say.

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applestar
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

Well honeybees are European right? So I would say they are imported and naturalized where they have escaped domestication, but maybe not necessarily invasive.

I believe they do displace the native wild bees to some extent, especially the solitary ones that are no match for the colony of worker bees working in mass unison in a given territory, but their decline might have as much to do with loss of natural habitat and agricultural practices.

I see all kinds of different bees (and wasps) in my garden, including but not limited to honeybees.
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Rairdog
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

I see no displacement at all. The more flowering plants I grow, native or not, the more native bees show up. The native bee's are the ones I see the most in my bee garden. They are also the ones I see most in the vegetable garden. I watch my honey bee's occasionally hit some of my plants but it's probably 10-20 to 1 natives to HB's. HB's are more interested in tree's, large native plant blooms and field's of mono-crops it seems. When I watch them make a bee-line from the hive I often wander where they go. I don't think they go to some other garden and drain the nectar starving the natives.

I don't agree with transporting them to pollinate. The fruit trees should have a mix of permanent HB hives and natives to get the job done. When you push mono-crops/fruit/nut trees to the max and expect a truck full of HB's to show up and give you a good harvest that creates a problem waiting to happen. Farmers need to have a variety of plants that flower at different times to support a steady flow of nectar/pollen which will support and sustain a variety of bees throughout the season. You can't grow 1 or 2 crops/trees in large quantities that bloom 2-3 weeks and expect that to feed them all year long. I'm not on the pesticide CCD as much as I'm on the mono-crop....transporting....spreading disease problem.

Raising HB's has given me much more knowledge of natives and what I can do to help them out. It sounds silly but raising HB's seems to attract natives IMO....like they are jealous and don't want to miss out on the flow. Rant over.....

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Allyn
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

The European honey bee is not native but was introduced a few centuries ago (the 17th century, I think?). How long do they have to be here before we figure, "oh heck they're native now"? Either way, I don't see where it meets the criteria to be called "invasive" and it is not at all undesirable. The OP said that the bees were undesirable in certain areas and I wonder if in those areas folks don't want whatever they're growing to be cross-pollinated? or perhaps it's an area where the Africanized strains are closing in and they want to keep the "killer" bees out of the area? The Africanized bees swarm in and kill the entire hive of European honey bees and then take up residence in the hive. As I understand it, they are fairly useless as pollinators and are so fiercely aggressive that they're highly dangerous to people, pets and livestock.

imafan26
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

Honey bees are important pollinators and some crops won't fruit unless they are pollinated. With the small hive beetle and varoa mite infestations, wild hives are in trouble. Managed hives are probably the ones that have a chance to survive.
Some crops need pollinators, but as you have mentioned monoculture does not support a diverse ecosystem. Bees are rented because there aren't enough natural hives to pollinate the crops for the farmers unless the farmers are willing to wake up extra early and go out and pollinate their crops by hand.

Even with trucked in hives, the beekkeeper will be lucky to get half his hives back alive. Monoculture like a diet consisting of the same food everyday is not healthy. If the farmers spray their crops for other pests, they will also kill the bees. Most of the time even the honey the bees make while pollinating crops may not be good and sometimes the beekkeepers actually have to throw it away.

Africanized bees are hard to work with and very aggressive, but they do make good honey.
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Shirley Pinchev
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

Thank you every one. I think I will go back to the original article and get more information about which bees are the ones are the bees that some people want to ban. I had no idea that this could be so controversial.

Shirley Pinchev
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

This is the link to the original article https://www.nationalhoneybeeday.com/bann ... label.html

This is what really struck me as questionable and brought me to ask the experts here.
In a recent article found on the page.... the following comment is confirmed "I don't usually include this in my talks, but many entomologists are deliriously happy about the decline of honey bees. Honey bees are invasive species." The article is written by Coggin Heeringa, Director, at Crossroads at Big Creek, Wisconsin.

imafan26
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

You have to read these articles with a grain of salt. Every paper will have bias. It is true that European bees which make up the majority of the honey producing managed hives are alien species. There are native bees as well and other alien bees that pollinate a range of flowers. Many of these other bees may not live in colonies (solitary bees) and they don't all produce honey. Many insects and birds specialize and prefer specific plants and flowers and even colors. Sometimes they are direct competitors for nectar, but not always. Some flowers are designed for a specific pollinator.

Just as all bees do not make honey or live in huge colonies, not all bees compete with natives for food, or habitat. When you think about it if you went outside or to the mall or grocery store you will find a lot of 'aliens' everywhere. From the Egyptian cotton linens, to Brazilian coffee, to the flowers native to China, Japan, South America, Philippines, Africa and Europe and all points everywhere. Most of the melons, squash, almonds, Macadamia nut, mango,plums, peaches, nectarines and others would disappear from the market if there were no bees to polinate the flowers.

I think what people do not realize is that bees are not the only pollinators around. Butterflies, flies, moths, ants and beetles can also polinate flowers. Most plants that spend their lives deep in the forest or jungle where there is little light, depend on other pollinators besides honey bees. Leaf cutter, carpenter, and some species of bumble bees are solitary. Some feed on nectar, but the leaf cutter bee gathers leaves to line their nest and they live offf the fungus that grows on the leaves. There are native bees around. We used to have a native bee foraging with the honey bees in the herb garden but I haven't seen one in a long time.

Pollinators often specialize. Bees rarely polinate tubular red flowers. Those are pollinated mostly by butterfies.
The carpenter bees are partial to tall purple flowers of lavender and verbena in my herb garden. the fiery skipper butterfly likes the sage and the Italian honey bees like the basil and the orchard flowers when they are in season. Monarchs exclusively feed and live on milkweeds.

There is no doubt that alien species introduced to areas, especially where native species have carved out a niche without competition can do serious damage to a fragile ecosystem. This is especially true of unintentional introductions of pests and plants into an environment where they have no predators to control them. They can displace the natives by out competing them for food and habitat. Native species also become 'dinner' for the aliens especially if they evolved without the need for defenses from predators.

To save our polinators and the bees, both wild and managed, we all need to preserve and create habitat for them and reduce the use of pesticides which kill indescriminately. We also need to be careful what we 'aliens' we bring home to make sure they don't become a future problem.
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jal_ut
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

The Italian type bees, the kind most beekeepers use have become very important in the pollination of the large orchards. Take almonds for example, these are grown in large plots of many acres with nothing but almond trees there. When the trees bloom they need pollinators, but soon as the bloom ends there is nothing there for a bee. This is why bees become mobile. Move to the almonds for the bloom, then move to farming areas where alfalfa and clover are abundant so the bees have something to live on. Also it is from these areas where most honey is made. You can't blame a beekeeper for wanting to take his bees to the orchards, the owner will pay well for just sitting the colonies on the ground for a couple of weeks. Then off to clover country to make honey for a second payday.
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jal_ut
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

The beekeepers bees sometimes swarm and they will cluster near by for a time then if the beekeeper does not see them and capture them and put them in a hive they may fly off and set up house keeping in an old shed or a hole in a rock. Unfortunately with the parasites and diseases we have around these days, these colonies are likely doomed. I don't see these types of bees being invasive at all. They have a hard time surviving without the help of the beekeeper.

Side note: I am a beekeeper. I started keeping bees in 1973. I have never went large, but at present there are 31 colonies sitting in my backyard.
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ButterflyLady29
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

To anyone who wants to read the facts here is the link to the National Strategy:
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollin ... gy2015.pdf

imafan26
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

Areas where natural pollinators have become scarce, humans have to do the pollinating otherwise the farmer would not have a crop to sell.
https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/s ... te-by-hand

We live in a world that is becoming more interdependent. Plants are grown all over the world commercially and naturalized that have been transported by humans. Some plants have been wanted and others unintentionally have been let loose to raise havoc in environments where they out compete natives. Although if you follow Darwin's philosophy. Natural selection will always select for the most adaptable species to survive. Species become extinct every day and in some places of the world at an alarming rate and mainly due to the introduction of non native plants animals and diseases. Adaptation takes time and when an agressive alien is introduced into a fragile ecosystem, some of the natives cannot adapt fast enough and decline. This is not natural, but it is how many species ended up becoming extinct in the first place, by being displaced by a species that could adapt and thrive. Some people believe that species displacement and extinction is a natural process and it is how species have evolved and the species that deserve to survive are the ones that can adapt. Without the bees, would other pollinators pollinate the fruit trees or would we have to get used to eating other kinds of fruit as the fruit trees die out as well if they are solely dependent on specific pollinators?
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tomc
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

As long as you don't need to feed people, domesticated bees are invasive.

The original article is a few slices short of a loaf.
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jal_ut
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Re: Are honey bee invasive species?

Side note: You can encourage some of the wild bees to stick around your place and reproduce by taking a 2X4 about 30 inches long and then take your electric drill with a 7/32 inch drill bit and drill a whole bunch of holes in the board, then hang it up on the wall of your shed. The little solitary bees nest in the holes.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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