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Re: [beemonitoring] mesh to exclude honey bees

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  • Jack Neff
    Did you consider constructing mesh enclosures with varying size mesh, placing different bee species inside, and seeing who got out?  If they can get out,
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 2, 2011
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      Did you consider constructing mesh enclosures with varying size mesh, placing different bee species inside, and seeing who got out?  If they can get out, presumably they can get in.  This would be a direct test of the exclusionary powers of various meshes.  You're sort of doomed anyway with this sort of experiment since there are many non-Apis bees who are very close to Apis size (Apis of course meaning mellifera, the other Apis species would cause a different set of problems) and no mesh size will solve that problem.

      best

      Jack
       
      John L. Neff
      Central Texas Melittological Institute
      7307 Running Rope
      Austin,TX 78731 USA
      512-345-7219

      From: Nicholas Stewart <nick.s2art@...>
      To: Hannah Gaines <hgaines@...>; beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com; David_r_smith@...; Sam Droege <sdroege@...>; John Pickering <pick@...>
      Sent: Thursday, June 2, 2011 1:40 PM
      Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] mesh to exclude honey bees

       
      Hello Hannah & Group;

         Interesting you brought this up - per my project (now well w/in the 2nd year of my native GA pollinator assessment & inventory in N GA apple orchards), we recieved federal funding to conduct an Apis exclusionary program. We, prior to the bloom, but during bud formation, chose random clumps of branches on the trees at varying heights throughout two of my orchards. Around these we built boxes of a standard square footage using mesh (the most difficult part of the ENTIRE darn thing was finding the correct mesh diameter) to exclude Apis, while still allowing as many of the Andrenids, Colletids, and Halictids to enter (as well as any pollinating syrphids, muscoids, etc.). After we were sure the flowers within the devices were unavailble for further fertilization, we removed the boxes. We have, subsequently, been monitoring the branches of interest each time we go to the sites for sampling days - ultimately hoping to see whether the most common native apoidea witnessed/quantified in 2010 were able to provide the necessary pollination services Apis-free equivalent to conditions when present.

      As part of the funding, I'll be publishing this data & methods later this year, but I can warn you that there are sooooo many options for the exclusionary material, you need to test every material prior to field implementation, as honeybees are little houdini's!

      Per Mr. Smith's follow-up questions; yes, larger buzz-pollinating behemoths were excluded as well. From my 2010 findings during the bloom, the majority of Apoid species present in the highest abundances were smaller than Apis. If we ultimately find late this summer/fall that the Apis-free branches produced similar yields & similar quality apples (i.e. - june drops vs bag/cider vs show/store apples), than we can preliminarily sumise that natives are surely capable of handling the pollination services necessary to this orchard - its only a plus that the larger natives will be present in nature, further ensuring a good yield/fruit quality.

      Hope that helped,
      Nick Stewart

      On Mon, May 23, 2011 at 9:32 AM, Hannah Gaines <hgaines@...> wrote:
       
      Hello Bee Monitoring List
      I am setting up an experiment in which I would like to compare fruit set with and without honey bees (or small versus large bees).  To do this I am building mesh cages which I am hoping will exclude honey bees but allow the smaller native bees.  The mesh I am considering using is 1/6 of an inch (usually used to exclude Japanese beetles).  My questions are:

      1. Will a 1/6 inch mesh exclude honey bees?
      2. Will bees smaller than honey bees fly through a 1/6 inch mesh?

      Thanks!
      Hannah


      --
      ________________________________________
      Hannah R. Gaines
      http://entomology.wisc.edu/%7Egaines/



      --
      Nicholas G. Stewart
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Georgia Native Fruit Tree -----------------------------------------------------------------------
      -------------------------------- Pollinator Biodiversity Assessment, 
      (2010-13) 
      ----------------- Managing Native Pollinator Species Richness:   Efforts in Sustainable, Native Pollination Services -------
           Project Design   ---   Lead Field Researcher   ---   Primary Taxonomist
      nick.s2art@...   *(PRIMARY)*   
      nstewart@...                                                                                         (404) 784-6236            



    • pollinator2001
      ... Nicholas, we have a small apple orchard in our front yard (low chill, southern varieties), and, despite working the last few years to build a bee-friendly
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 2, 2011
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        --- In beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com, Nicholas Stewart <nick.s2art@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello Hannah & Group;
        >
        > Interesting you brought this up - per my project (now well w/in the 2nd
        > year of my native GA pollinator assessment & inventory in N GA apple
        > orchards), we recieved federal funding to conduct an Apis exclusionary
        > program. We, prior to the bloom, but during bud formation, chose random
        > clumps of branches on the trees at varying heights throughout two of my
        > orchards. Around these we built boxes of a standard square footage using
        > mesh (the most difficult part of the ENTIRE darn thing was finding the
        > correct mesh diameter) to exclude Apis, while still allowing as many of the
        > Andrenids, Colletids, and Halictids to enter (as well as any pollinating
        > syrphids, muscoids, etc.). After we were sure the flowers within the devices
        > were unavailble for further fertilization, we removed the boxes. We have,
        > subsequently, been monitoring the branches of interest each time we go to
        > the sites for sampling days - ultimately hoping to see whether the most
        > common native apoidea witnessed/quantified in 2010 were able to provide the
        > necessary pollination services Apis-free equivalent to conditions when
        > present.
        >
        > As part of the funding, I'll be publishing this data & methods later this
        > year, but I can warn you that there are sooooo many options for the
        > exclusionary material, you need to test every material prior to field
        > implementation, as honeybees are little houdini's!
        >
        > Per Mr. Smith's follow-up questions; yes, larger buzz-pollinating behemoths
        > were excluded as well. From my 2010 findings during the bloom, the majority
        > of Apoid species present in the highest abundances were smaller than Apis.
        > If we ultimately find late this summer/fall that the Apis-free branches
        > produced similar yields & similar quality apples (i.e. - june drops vs
        > bag/cider vs show/store apples), than we can preliminarily sumise that
        > natives are surely capable of handling the pollination services necessary to
        > this orchard - its only a plus that the larger natives will be present in
        > nature, further ensuring a good yield/fruit quality.

        Nicholas, we have a small apple orchard in our front yard (low chill, southern varieties), and, despite working the last few years to build a bee-friendly environment, would probably not have had apples this year without honeybees.

        Now these were watched intensely through the bloom period, at various times of day, as I was trying to document the apple blossom visitors every day by photos.

        Last year I saw a few orchard mason bees, and hoped they would increase, as we provided nesting sites for them. This year, though I was watching carefully, there was only one orchard mason bee spotted visiting blossoms, during the entire bloom period.

        I would say our apple pollination was about 80% done by honey bees, and the rest done by carpenter bees. The bumble bees, which are overrunning our place now, did not show up in time for apple blossom.

        Our bradford pears, which used to draw large numbers of small bees, were conspicuously barren this year, with almost no bees visiting.

        I would suggest that most of the folks who report seeing bumblebees on spring fruit blossom are actually seeing the eastern carpenter bee. I have seen queen bumblers on tree fruit a few times, and have photos to show; but they are not common.

        Our smaller bees just weren't out in any number that early either, though we now have plenty of them now - and there are a few of them nesting in our provided nest sites.

        We had just one honeybee hive in the backyard during apple bloom. This has been expanded now to five, with the one split into three, and two swarms who arrived on their own. Right now there seems to be little in the yard and garden that interests them, though they are flying hard every day.

        I see them on the cucumbers, but mostly B. impatiens on the several varieties of squash, coneflower, bachelor button, cosmos, coreopsis, lavender, marigold, white clover, monarda, lantana, butterfly weed, zinnias, sunflowers and others. Our spiderwort is worked by every species of bee we have here.

        Eggplant and peppers are getting most attention from tiny bees, though occasionally by B. impatiens. Our tomatoes have been visited by another bumblebee species - I am pretty sure it's pensylvanicus, but it moves fast and spooks every time I try to get a photo.

        I spent 25 years in the pollination contracting business, and the last ten years trying to document photographically what bees visit what species of flowers, and I would make one serious suggestion: It would not be wise to tell growers that they don't need honey bees.

        The mix of bee species varies so much from place to place - and from year to year - that it's a pretty risky thing to make predictions.

        I want to enhance and protect the wild bees as much as possible. We need them and they need our protection. We have made our property a bee sanctuary, and constantly strive to find new ways to improve this.

        But honeybees have a proven reliability record. They are not in near as much trouble as the popular press (or some agenda-driven persons) would have you believe.

        Honeybees can be moved about. Honeybees can be replaced (the CCD bee losses have been more than recovered). But one widespread spray can badly damage wild bee populations, which will recover only slowly.

        Without honeybees, I would not have had an apple crop this year. Many times I've seen fields of squash and watermelons that could have been saved, if they had placed honeybees. Wild bees did not do the job.

        I certainly want to see the results of your experiment, but even if, for this year, you got an apple crop without honeybees, you need to go cautiously in predicting the reliability of wild bees for replacement. Conditions may be totally different next year.

        What if one recommends to a grower that honeybees are not needed, and the grower loses a crop. Will he blame the person making the recommendation? Will he sue the advisor? Will the grower go bankrupt - as I saw one grower do after a massive pollination failure?

        Be sure to include apple seed counts in your data. That's an important measure of pollination success.

        Dave
        Retired pollination contractor
        http://pollinator.com/blog/
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