I am in Quincy Florida. We (UF NFREC Quincy) have had B. impatiens colonies from Koppert for the last three years. I work on native pollinators from an ecoservices perspective and since B. impatiens is second only to honey bees through most of the year (except for H. laboriosa in early spring) I am trying to focus on increasing feral colonies. I am also a blueberry grower. What stumps me to some extent is the gynes I am seeing now on the station are much larger than the workers and do look like they are newly eclosed. However, they seem to be much smaller than the early feral queens I see in my Southern Highbush blueberry in southwest Ga. I am thinking at this point there may be a size difference between gynes produced by domesticated colonies and feral colonies. This would impact survival and may explain some of the literature which indicates domesticated colonies do not positively impact future populations.
I do have questions about the voltinism here but see the workers die in the fall and see no bees through the winter. Is anyone aware if day length impacts these bees?
Brush piles are recommended by our Fish and Wildlife Service as a conservation practice here. Further, it is recommended the fire lines exclude them from a burn. The majority of feral colonies I have found in the last three years have all been in brush piles. The down side is when you recommend them to small landowners the first question you get is “What about rodents and snakes?” At this point fire ants seem to invade many attempts at furnishing overwintering habitat and of course you do not want insecticides in this habitat. I do intend to try fire ant bait.
T. Charles Riddle
University of Florida
155 Research Rd.
Quincy FL. 32351