RE: [beemonitoring] Re: [Pollinator] FW: access to the listserve; honey bees on conservation land
Hi Don and group:
Anne Averill and her students at the University of Massachusetts has been working on this question – spillover of pathogens from managed bees (she works on commercial bumble bees as well as honey bees) to wild Bombus species.
Here is an extension article about their findings:
Peter, there are lots of potential effects here (many plants, many pollinators, natural enemies, etc.). What I was inquiring about was whether one or more of the many honeybee parasites or pathogens (including mites, bacteria, viruses, etc.) are also pathogens of native bees, or at least what is the level of knowledge of that potential indirect competetive effect?
Sorry but I know nothing about the parasites and pathogens carried by honeybees except what I read "in the newspapers" (mites, colony collapse disorder, chalk brood etc.). Someone should check the literature to see which flower-visiting insects are most likely to introduce parasitic and pathogenic spores of fungi and bacteria to various plants.
For example, the life-cycle of certain rust fungi includes a "spermatia" stage in which the fungal infection on one plant species mimics a flower (smells nice, looks petaloid) and secretes a nectar-like substance attracting bees and flies. These insects drink the fluid but carry the spores to a second host. Most rust fungi have two, often widely divergent hosts. The most famous case is the rust fungus that kills wheat but its second host is the relatively rust resistant, barberry (Berberbis) bush used to hedge the parameters of the wheat field. Perhaps Dr. Kevan can say more about insects transporting fungal spores to blueberry species. I believe the disease is called, mummy berry.
On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 1:08 PM, Weber, Don <Don.Weber@...> wrote:
David, Peter, and others, could you please address another possible consequence of wide dissemination of honeybees: the potential overlap of host range of their parasites and pathogens with native species? I am not at all versed in this area and so do not know what evidence there is of this indirect competitive effect, or how its magnitude might compare to any direct competitive effects of honeybees on native species. Thank you.
Donald C. Weber, Research Entomologist
USDA Agricultural Research Service
Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory
Bldg. 011A, Rm. 107, BARC-West Beltsville, MD 20705 USA
A relatively few feral colonies are relatively inconsequential compared to gajillions of artifically pampered hives being set out somewhere.
Honey bees have been shown to be detrimental to native bees and there is some evidence that they may help the spread of invasive exotic plants.
Some rare plants have only been found to be visited by native bees even when honey bees were present in the area, so if these native bees are pushed out by the honey bees through competition at other flowers, it's possible that the rare plants will not be pollinated, either properly or at all.
Native bees pollinate some flowers much more efficiently than honey bees, and so even if honey bees visit the flowers, they may do a poor job of pollination and again if the natives are pushed out by honey bees, some native flora may decline.
To my mind, honey bees are domesticated exotic animals that can be beneficial, neutral or harmful, depending upon the setting and density. Just as cattle may graze in some areas and not do any real harm, hives should be allowed in some places, but definitely not in any sensitive or isolate ecosystems and especially anywhere near any populations of rare, insect-pollinated plants or where rare pollinators are known to occur.
CC: pollinator@...; email@example.com
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2012 11:37:02 -0500
Subject: [beemonitoring] Re: [Pollinator] FW: access to the listserve; honey bees on conservation land
No one is trying to demonize anyone. Obviously, protection of pollinator and pollinator-services works only if beekeepers, scientists, local naturalists (who are often amateur beekeepers) and federal/state employees work together. The fact remains, though, that some beekeepers are living in la-la land based on recent, shared communications. Here are the facts.
1) Honeybees are not native to the flora of the western hemisphere.
2) Nectar and pollen is a limited resource consumed both by honeybees and native animals with anthophilous foraging habits.
3) Commercial bee keepers introduce hives by the hundreds into agricultural areas (fine with me) but that doesn't mean that honeybees always prefer the nectar and pollen they obtain from domesticated crops when they have the choice of flowering plants found in natural areas adjacent to cultivated fields.
4) Some beekeepers find this final point the hardest point to understand. The presence of any animal on a flower doesn't mean that flower has a true pollinator. Animal-mediated cross-pollination is a "balanced act." Honeybees DON'T pollinate every native flower they visit even though they may exit the flower with nectar and pollen from that flower. I have nearly 30 years of publications on who does and who doesn't pollinate based on fieldwork in North America, Australia, New Caledonia and Israel. Sometimes the honeybee is a dependable pollinator and sometimes it ain't but it is almost always a dependable remover of nectar and pollen. That's o.k. with me. My darling, Xylocopa (males and females) are good, native, North American citizens and they certainly don't pollinate everything they visit either but they are virtually the ONLY pollinators of one of the native milkweeds I've studied the last two years. The fact remains that you won't see hundreds of thousands of Xylocopas in a conservation area punching holes in the flowers but you can certainly see hundreds and thousands of honeybees in the same site if commercial apiarists are permitted to bring in their hives within a certain radius.
I love honey, beeswax candles and consume enhtusiastically every fruit and vegetable pollinated by honeybees (especially those yummy Californian almonds). However, I also love to eat pork sausage, beefsteaks, fired chicken and roast duck (Chinese way is best) in the clear knowledge that these animals were not permitted to forage in reserved, conservation areas during their life times. If dear little Miss Apis and her many sisters are permitted to do what is sweet and natural in a conservation area doesn't that mean that Bossie the cow, Donald duck and the three little pigs must be allowed the same access?
On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 11:04 AM, Sunny Boyd <sun@...> wrote:
From Daniel Weaver.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Daniel Weaver <dbeeweaver@...>
Cc: Zac Browning <z_browning@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 20:45:39 -0500
Subject: access to the listserve; honey bees on conservation land
Though I'm not sure this reply will post to the list, if it reaches someone of authority with the means to allow me privileges to post I would appreciate the favor of doing so - just provide appropriate instructions. If this does post automatically, then I apologize for the diversion.
I'll assume as a given that honey bees (Apis mellifera) are avid, super-generalist pollinators of an amazing variety of plants, whether native, merely introduced or invasive. Thus they may promote propagation of a huge number of species, and will undoubtedly compete for nectar and pollen resources. Less certain is whether this competition will negatively impact native pollinators in any particular time, place or environmental condition, much less native pollinators generally.
I will concede that ecosystems most likely to be affected by honey bee populations will be those where honey bee populations are at the most extreme in terms of density. By the same token, the seasonal occurrence of large concentrations of honey bees - in the central valley of California for Almond pollination being one example - happen much earlier than most native pollinators emerge or certainly before their populations reach peak levels.
First, I think it important to discriminate among land tracts and the purposes for which they are administered. True "Wilderness areas" don't merit managed honey bee populations and beekeeper traffice (though how are you going to exclude feral colonies?) any more than they should be used for any other intrusive activity. But I do think that honey bees have a much less negative impact on native habitat than grazing mammals, so if you can graze or hay the land, then honey bees should be a no-brainer.
Second, many large tracts that are managed to promote conservation of various biological features have long been occupied and used by beekeepers and in some cases have been natural habitat for introduced honey bees even longer. The later category of land includes conservation reserve program land, blm land, forested land and incidental tracts managed for reasons other than merely preservation and conservation of endangered species or native habitat alone.
In other words, if you want to keep honey bees off of wilderness areas I'm sympathetic (but what about those pesky feral colonies that have been part of the ecosystem for 300?? years). On the other hand if you want to propose excluding honey bees from any land tract that has any conservation goal as an administrative or management aim, then I think you're ignoring reality, and attempting to demonize the only agricultural industry that is truly invested in (and will survive if and only if) we as a nation do more to protect and preserve natural environments. If you want political allies to help preserve more land, and develop, ruin and plunder the environment less, then we're the best you're likely to find.
It we can't preserve the natural and mutually dependent alliance between beekeepers and native pollinator enthusiasts, find some common ground, and work on preserving more natural habitat for both honey bees and native pollinators then were all well and truly ....... add your favorite apocalyptic phrase here.
Pollinator mailing list
This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately.