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Thread: The Right Sort of Bees

  1. #1
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    Default The Right Sort of Bees

    Not really my problem...yet

    Dad was in my garden and he found a bees nest in my compost bin so he left well alone.

    He says they are ground nesting bees...evidently social bees...are they honey bees?

    I will be going home next month so I will get you some pictures.

    Its possible I might have a swarm for you bee keeping types to adopt...I do hope so!

  2. #2
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    Wonderful. That means that you are to be blessed with good fortune.
    Probably not the conventional, hive dwelling Apis melifera (honey bee.)
    Instead, they may be the far larger yellow/black or yellow/orange/black bumble bees.
    They don't store nectar as honey but do harvest enough for their own needs.
    If they are, the nests are usually no more than annual affairs.
    Here, the queens over winter and begin afresh every spring.
    Their vision is excellent so swatting at them usually provokes a response.

    As pollinators, they are invaluable. They pollinate many crops that the honey bee is too fussy to even look at.
    They pollinate grapes, for example. Think about that.

  3. #3
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    Ground nesting bees should not be in a compost bin? They like to dig holes in the ground?
    I have only seen Bumblebees nesting in ground. Normal bees in ground, rotten tree trunks, attics too.

    It is a weird thing in the English language, to call bees almost the same as (bumble) bees...

  4. #4
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    I see ground-nesting as opposed to nesting in tree cavities, house roofs and other elevated locations.
    Ground nesting as in the two colonies of bumble bees which nested underneath my garden shed.
    Probably lots of dread dry grass from mouse and vole winter nests under the shed.
    None of our many bumble bee species are diggers. Instead there's a miriad of abandoned little burrows
    and rock piles for them to pick from. Even our yellow jacket wasps will nest in the ground.

    My "compost bin" is 6' x 6' x 4' and is no more than a box for rotting lawn grass clippings.
    It can dry out very quickly in the summers here, have to remember to water it to make it work.
    More than once, I've noticed a bumble bee nest from their comings and goings.
    I've opened a couple out of curiosity, they look like the pictures!

    In this day and time, I'm much more concerned for their welfare as crop pollinators as
    the devastation from Colony Collapse Disorder coutinues to decimate honey bee colonies.

  5. #5
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    Ate there any indigenous species of honey bees in North America that can take over the crop pollinating role?

  6. #6
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    The answer, essentially, is no. The honey bee is european in origin as are most of the crops which depend upon them for pollination.

    What we see with our native flowering plants is a multitude of insects foraging for pollen and nectar,
    the bumble bees and various flies (Diptera) of all things and the occassional butterfly.
    The yellow jacket wasps have a great fondness for the gooseberry bushes. The flies are in love with the black currants.
    Lots of other smaller species but these are the most conspicuous if you sat in my back garden right now and watched.

  7. #7
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    Here on Cayman we have a local bee, about half size from the normal Honey Bee.
    I stepped on one last year, and thought I had stepped on a Scorpion. Much, much more painful than a Honey Bee sting.
    Had lots in the garden in February, when my Mango trees flowered, and again in April when one of the Mango trees flowered for a second time.
    As a result I have been blessed with a couple of hundred Mangoes!
    Will give most away of course, once they start maturing.

  8. #8
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    Just because they are inconspicuous doesn't mean that they don't carry a big stick!

    Colony Collapse Disorder has been a disaster here in the valley in the commercial honey bee business.
    Mites, bacteria on the mites, jacka$$ insecticide spraying, who knows?

    Even theft. They just caught some guy (California?) who had stolen more than a million dollars worth of hives.

  9. #9
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    Appears that you have no shortage to pick from in the UK

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._Great_Britain

  10. #10
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    The same problem occurs in Europe. If this continues food production will go down. Maybe time for Science to start looking into developing a new bee hybrid?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    The same problem occurs in Europe. If this continues food production will go down. Maybe time for Science to start looking into developing a new bee hybrid?
    They already tried that with the Africanized Honey Bee. That ain't turning out so good.

  12. #12
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    Is that the one that likes attacking people and everything else that moves?

  13. #13
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    Yep. Still spreading.

  14. #14
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    I stand to be corrected.... But im fairly confident that ground nesting bees aka mining bees are a purely solitary species

  15. #15
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    Good speculation. (And yes, lots of solitary bees in my garden.) But honey bees would be a good catch.

    Shame I cant keep them.

  16. #16
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    Well, I hope you get lucky with Honey Bees.... Sadly I think you are more likely to find they are Bumbles

  17. #17
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    I am quite sure Tengu's dad knows to see the difference between Bumble bees and Bees?
    Does not everybody?

  18. #18
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    Not necessarily; we have around 250 species of bees in the UK, and though honeybees generally have the largest colonies, there are look alikes. The carder bee for instance.
    Unless one has time (and isn't being frazzled by the uplifting of dozens/hundreds of bees) it's just 'a bee'.

    As children we used to try to capture as many different kinds that we could in a set time. I think my record was twenty four different bees in ten minutes; everything from bakers to redhot pokers….but then, the grass area in front of out houses was a field of clover through summer.

    https://bumblebeeconservation.org/ab...dentification/

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  19. #19
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    I thought of the difference between a bumblebee and a bee.
    Visually vast difference.

  20. #20
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    Not as clear as you might think. Honeybees are relatively hairless, while bumble bees are furry….some of them, they're not all like miniature bear things.

    We now have European carpenter bees in the UK too, and they don't have hairy abdomens either.

    I asked elsewhere, and the agreement is that there are bees, wasps and flies….and that's pretty much how most folks define them.
    Apparently we're weird in asking what kind of bee It's just a bee.

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  21. #21
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    Bees, ants, wasps and so forth are the Order Hymenoptera (membrane wings).
    Flies are in the Order Diptera (two wings).

    Here, we have several species of solitary bees. They are about the same size, but gray not orange abdomens, which are the introduced honey bee of commerce.
    Far and away larger are our native bumble bees which live in small social colonies. Adult queens can be 4cm in length = they are huge things. Workers 3cm or less.
    Those are black and yellow. My insect ID book identifies them as Megabombus pennsylvanicus.

    There are smaller species of what we also call bumble bees, these are yellow, black and very distinctly bright orange abdomens.
    The book is silent on the proper name but I could find it elsewhere.

  22. #22
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    Theres 20 odd types of Bumblebee in the uk and only 1 type of Honeybee.

    I see Bumblebees nesting in compost bins, Rabbit Hutches, Old Car parts... Basically anything close to the ground, almost every year. They dont seem to mind people being around and there tends to be 10-20 of them bumbling about at a time.

    I'm sometimes lucky enough to see a wild Honey Bee hive.. A handfull of times in my 33 years, we had one at work one year. I have only ever seen them in hollow trees... Though I am sure they may build in other places like rarely used sheds etc.

    They normally have a LOT more Bee's hanging around and in my admittedly limited experience are no where near as tolerant of people. In all hosesty, Honey Bee hives are one of the few things in British nature that has really properly scared me. Completely my own fault for being too brave and curious.

  23. #23
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    Other than the bumble bee "nests," the closest thing here to a wild hive is the paper construction made by the yellow & black "Yellowjacket" wasps
    and the slightly larger, black & white "Bald-faced Hornet. Unless you have an absolutley clear plan to kill them all, and quickly, they will find you.
    With stinging, they release pheromones to tells the others to "come and sting."
    1. They cannot survive the ride down the corrugated hose of a ShopVac vauum cleaner. Normally go into the tank as 2 or 3 pieces.
    2. They all go home at night. Suck up what you can for a couple of days with the ShopVac. If you can see the paper nest, after dark, quietly approach
    and with the tube spout, inject WD-40 as you count to 5 then run like Hello.

  24. #24
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    I'm with ValeTudoGuy on the bees too.

    Wasps ? s'easy. You buy the white powder wasp killer stuff and sprinkle it where they are getting into the area where they have their byke. The returning wasps brush against it and carry it into the byke. In a day or so, they're all dead. It's under three quid for the plastic puffer bottle which does several bykes.

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  25. #25
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    The only flying insects I used to be happy killing was Hornets? Only when our son was young though. Before and now - Live and let live.
    All have a function in nature.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ValeTudoGuy View Post
    ...... In all hosesty, Honey Bee hives are one of the few things in British nature that has really properly scared me. Completely my own fault for being too brave and curious.
    Unless the bees are Africanized I'm really more scared by yellow jackets https://youtu.be/gaK_g_d81Hc It's really east to overlook them until after you've run over the hole with the lawn mower. Or back when I was logging as a teenager. The sawyer would cut down the tree (the nest near the base of the stump would be dazed by the fumes from the saw and he'd never even see them) Then I'd back the tractor up to it and they'd attack me when I dismounted to hook to the log to bring it to the loading area.
    Last edited by santaman2000; 21-05-2017 at 04:21.

  27. #27
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    When your kid gets stung in the throat by a hornet, your attitude will be corrected.
    ******* went into a can of fizzy soft drink. I've never let one live since then.
    Me and another guy were drilling holes for the posts for a short (24") retaining wall.
    The machine must have gone dead-center into a wasp ground nest.
    Got the machine and got away. Gasoline and a match the next day. Dirt burns really well.

    The issue is the untold variety of agricultural crops pollinated by the commercialized, large colony, European honey bee.
    If you are unfamiliar with the impact, look it up. Active enough that we can steal their honey (foood reserves) and wax.
    Neat to watch how calm the bees are when the hives are attended to by knowledgable bee-keepers.

    Colony Collapse Disorder is contributing to our food-safety risks.
    This isn't Chicken-Little, screaming: "the sky is falling, the sky is falling."

  28. #28

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    To answer the original question I wouldn't have thought they are honey bees as there would be 1,000s of them at this time of year. A small swarm 10,000, normal swarm 20,000+ and a colony 40,000+ at this time of year.

    They younger workers also orientate when it's warm so you should see quite a few bees flying near the entrance (100+). You should also have larger and plumper drones flying about.

    Not all worker honey bees look the same, ours are a good mix of the various sub-species and range in size and colour, from small mostly black bees to larger very orangy/yellow stripy bees.

    Colonies also behave differently, some can be very gentle and will not attack, others can attack at the slightest provocation. I've also found they get a bit more protective in autumn/winter - probably protecting their stores.

  29. #29
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    Tree bumblebees are getting very common around here now. I've had them nesting in my composter, in bird boxes, tree cavities, in the eaves of the house, they're not fussy about where they nest and even go in people's tumble driers apparently. As they're an invasive species I'm not sure how welcome I should make them but they seem harmless enough.

  30. #30
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    Bumblebees invasive species?

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