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Thread: I wonder.

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Default I wonder.

    Are honey bees responsible for the decline in native pollinators and are honey bees responsible for the spread of non native plants.

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Q1: Habitat loss, habitat loss, habitat loss, then maybe some other factors ..... plus the fact that some native pollinators are not in decline but are actually spreading .... probably due to climate change. It seems to be the pollinators with exacting habitat requirements that are in trouble.

    Q2: Maybe a bit. However the insects pollinating Himalayan balsam round here seem to me to be bumble bees, wasps and honey bees in roughly equal numbers, and that is right beside some of my apiaries. That one plant alone must ensure that populations of all three insect types go into winter in a much healthier state that they used to.

    I've even wondered whether the persistent recurrence of AFB at the site near the Isla (mentioned by Murray and DR in another thread) is helped by the sea of HB there helping swarms occupying old sites get through the winter. That is another reason for a high level of care in swarm prevention - if you let a certain proportion go as a matter of routine then they might come back to bite you next season when they spread disease back into your apiaries.

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    I would say that Beekeepers tendencies to move bees to nectar sources like balsam is certainly contributory.
    I've even known of a Beekeeper who moved the balsam to him, he would t be the only one so its surely a factor.

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    As usual for most (all?) species, the greatest competition comes from members of the same species or very closely related species. Native honeybees have been in decline ever since imports began and they are surely part of our native pollinating fauna. Other moths, bumbles, masonry / carpenter, hover flies what have you occupy different niches and no study I've read indicates honeybees have adversely affected their populations.
    As troublemaker Gav points out, habitat loss is number one, two and three on why some species are in decline.

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Interesting but Habit loss on its own may not cover everything isolation, and fragmentation, inbreeding non-native species and diseases; pollution, are all contributing factors also, But lets look at Honey bees they are not native to either America or New zealand so it would be interesting to know of their impact on native species there. If the Great yellow bumblebee Bombus distinguendus was discovered off an Island in Scotland would it be a good idea to introduce hives there as both would be competing for the same flora.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greengage View Post
    Interesting but Habit loss on its own may not cover everything isolation, and fragmentation, inbreeding non-native species and diseases; pollution, are all contributing factors also, But lets look at Honey bees they are not native to either America or New zealand so it would be interesting to know of their impact on native species there. If the Great yellow bumblebee Bombus distinguendus was discovered off an Island in Scotland would it be a good idea to introduce hives there as both would be competing for the same flora.
    In Australia there is some weak evidence that honeybees outcompete native pollinators for floral resources but mainly tend to favour the non-native (mainly European) plants. I think Dave Goulson has been involved in some research on bumblebees in the UK where the suggestion was honeybees might be exploiting floral resource to the detriment of the bumbles on heather moors.

    Also this by Goulson(2003): Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 2003. 34:126 doi: 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.34.011802.132355

    Then there is this more recent paper, although a clue is in the abstract "in simplified landscapes where flower-rich habitats have been lost".

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...39179116300378

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    It is an interesting topic. I keep Honey bees, but when it comes to pollinating insects beekeepers seem to have hijacked a lot of the initiatives to support their own agendas. When most of the problems with honey bees would appear to be Beekeepers problems. The talk of native Honey bees in decline is always brought up, But what is native? Apis millifera millifera according to all the data I have read are not indigenous to specific countries but are a northern European bee. Ok if you have access to DNA kits you may be able to prove they are indigenous to specific areas.
    This regularly gets me in trouble with Honey beekeepers. Closley related species do compete for the same food sources but the proboscis lenght in both Honey bees and Bumblebees would mean that the longer proboscis of say Bombus hortorum would prevent honey bees from accessing nectar in certain flowers. then again I have read referance to Bombus pratorum learning to rob nectar from flowers of Foxglove and Honeysuckle and Honey bees expoliting this.

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    Greengage, you beat me to the proboscis length argument, but I'd say that alone rules out over competition from honey bees.
    Did anyone see the "state of nature report" ? A pretty damning account of farming practices and completely in support of the loos of habitat argument. It covers a lot more than just honeybees. 8000 species with 1200 threatened. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but even just the headline figures are worrying.

    https://www.rspb.org.uk/community/ou...ture-2016.aspx

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Ill read it later But my radar goes on alert when some of these NGOs launch reports as they have an agenda.
    As Adrian Horridge said "scientific literature is scarcely read, the all-important authors’ summaries can hide the weakness of the data, the conclusions often turn out to be invalid, the titles of the papers are often misleading and textbook writers cannot know it all. Few go back and study the original design of the experiments and the data. In fact, experts are so few in the world that often there is only one research group at the cutting edge—and they have baggage and axes to grind."

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    Some have no baggage, no axes and are nowhere near the cutting edge ...

    ... just sayin'.

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