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Author Topic: Bumble Bees, are they a danger to Honey Bees?  (Read 1895 times)
wisnewbee
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« on: April 02, 2011, 06:34:31 PM »

I have a Horse Chestnut tree in my back yard that typically flowers in late Spring. When it is in flower the tree is visited by so many Bumble Bees that buzzing is LOUD! I would imagine my Honey Bees will also be frequent visitors to this tree. Will the Bumble Bees cause a problem for my Honey Bees? If I had my way, I would just cut the darn tree down evil because of the mess it makes in Spring and Fall angry, but I don't have that option. Remember that the nuts from a Horse Chestnut tree are poisonous. Does anyone see a conflict on the horizon?

Bill
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JP
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 07:10:56 PM »

I don't see a problem Bill.


...JP
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T Beek
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2011, 08:07:44 PM »

For the most part they pollinate different plants.  Bumbles are even more docile than honeybees and have an even more mysterious life Smiley.

thomas
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Hemlock
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2011, 09:07:45 PM »

I also don't see any issue with bumbles.  The Horse chestnut may have poisonous nuts but i believe the nectar is fine for the bees.  the 'California Buckeye' is the one with the poisonous honey, I think...
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gguidester
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2011, 10:22:40 PM »

I had no idea there were so many BBs around until I got in to beekeeping and started looking for my bees on various blooms. Sometimes I see multiple BBs and no honey bees. Other times they seem to be sharing with no problems.  This is my 4th year and I learn more about not just bees, but nature in general with every bee experience. I have enjoyed helping people get started and plan to continue the trend.
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JP
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2011, 12:48:17 AM »

Bumbles seem to be particularly attracted to Wisteria, which has been blooming here as of late. Such a wonderful fragrance!


...JP
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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2011, 06:27:41 AM »

Does anybody know how big of a gap a bumble bee can fit through?  I have seen photos of dead bumble bees inside a hive.  There were stripped of all their hair!  I think the AceBird had one in his hive.  I use a top entrance in my hives and my gap is never taller than 9 to 10mm.  I have not found anything inside my hives other than bees (and wax moths), but Iím still wondering if a bumble bee could get through such a small gap even if it was foolish enough to try.

I have never noticed a problem with bees fighting each other when foraging.  I donít see too many bumble bees around here, but weíve got a ton of carpenter bees.  I know those big things can't squeeze into my top entrances!
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T Beek
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2011, 07:54:31 AM »

I believe the Great Lakes region has at least FIVE DIFERENT BUMBLE BEE VARIETIES.

thomas
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Trot
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2011, 11:46:37 AM »

Please people, shake off this negative notion about BB. 
They are an important link in a long chain that is Nature and they have a place in our world the same as our Honey bees do...
If any danger is present, it is danger from our bees spilling over to the BB. 
Research indicates that varroa and other asociated maladies are spreading on BB and wrecking havoc with them.  In many parts of the globe they are fast disappearing; In the USA about 78% of them are already gone.  In UK many species are already gone and Germany last year became alarmed, cause people noticed lack of BB?!
Remember, if honey bees are/become absent/disappear, bumbles will be one of only other major pollinators left to do the job such as it is. 
Besides, BB are the only suitable pollinators that will work inside the greenhouses, plus few varieties of solitary bees.  BB are the only bee that will not panic in the greenhouse, or when done, will not make a beeline to the first source of light - go on the glass and there walk, up and down, until dying. . .
Bumbles work by sight and not by orientation of the sun.  In other words; BB will stay at the ground and work from flower to flower, thus be able to come out where one goes in.  Our bees will get in alright, but when done it flies up into the sky, thus getting caught on the glass and there tortuously ending its life. . .

Do not wory that bumbles will cut into honey production, or the pocket books?  Bumbles don't store honey, per se, they only gather enough to survive and to feed their young.  Bumbles are territorial and mostly feed/gather in small designated areas and even only prefer certain flowers. They usualy take what our bees deem useless, or not yielding enough to bother.
They usualy don't even like competition on the same flowers and will move off.  I have kept BB for years and they peacefully coexist with my hives.
Remember, BB too are having problems surviving and they do not have us, humans, to help them out with food and medicine like they insist on helping/doing with our honeybees. . .
Erect some BB houses and/or wooden blocks with holes drilled in them (5 to 7mm size) to house and help out some other (solitary) bees as well.  Cause, harmonious and happy coexistence with all species of wild bees can only be of benefit to our endangered honey bees.
Think a bit outside the box, please.

To a gent who has a 10mm upper entrance:  Block it down to around 5mm - 6mm at most.  A 10mm opening is too big, too high, it will let in snakes, beetles and mice, among countless other things. . . .
Personally I never found the need for larger opening than 3/8 of an inch and even that is too high for my liking.  One bee height is all that is needed.
Think defence!?  Defending the large opening...
 
BB will occasionally go into the hive and pick polen from the floor.  (bees don't touch it after and if it falls off)
But, BB takes a dangerous gamble by going into the hive.  They rarely succeed to take something and get safely out only in weak hives.  The strong ones will ball and kill them, if they don't escape in a hurry.
One finds them dead and hairless for the simple reason that bees attempt to drag them out, but they are too heavy and all they accomplish is - they pluck them bald and sometimes mange to tear them to pieces and than drag them out.
There is no danger, whatsoever, from occasional BB that in desperation and hunger ventures into the hive to get something of use for own survival.

Relax people and enjoy in more diversified life around you. . . .

Regards,
Trot
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T Beek
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 12:08:02 PM »

Welcome back Trot.  And many thanks for your willingness to explain things so well.

Everyone with a garden and certainly any hobbiest beek should have some BB houses around.

thomas
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BlueBee
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2011, 01:22:23 PM »

Trot, it is a joy to see you posting again.  I have missed you, like many others have.  You gave us some great perspective on the humble bumble bee too.  I donít see as many of them here in Michigan as I remember seeing as a kid.  

Iíve been thinking about trying to catch a queen BB this spring and raising a colony in a man made box.  I havenít decided on what BB hive design to use yet.  
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Trot
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2011, 08:00:37 PM »

Thanks much guys...

Here are a few pointers about BB for those who care.
One important note: If making homes for BB make sure that they are sturdy so that skunks and possums, raccoons can't get them.
if catching the queen in spring and putting her in the box one can help her out with some food that can be replenished about every two days or so.  If I can remember correctly this can be a mixture of 70% honey and 30% water. . .
Remember that she is alone and labouring until she raises a few BB so they can help her out and at least take over with gathering food.

And . . .  This is a great way to awake the interest of children into the secret world of this interesting furry creature.
Remember also that bumbles are about the only ones that will polinate your tomatoes in greenhouses, etc...


http://www.bumblebee.org/nestbox_plans.htm

http://www.bumblebee.org/NorthAmerica.htm

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200558721887&rvr_id=211779465733&mfe=sidebar

http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=KCNP&Product_Code=HBOH&Category_Code=SS

http://www.amazon.com/Esschert-Design-USA-WA08-Wooden/dp/B0037PZ22Q/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3B3435Q8TW4Q3&colid=2JUVTO0FTQM27

https://shop-secure.extension.umn.edu/PublicationDetail.aspx?ID=1902

http://www.seeds.ca/proj/poll/index.php?n=Bumblebees


Regards,
Trot



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Michael Bush
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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2011, 09:50:08 PM »

I often see the black hairless bumble bees in dead in the hives.  They are usually there in the fall.  I think they were the ones that are not going to winter anyway and are just trying to last a while longer.  They have never been a problem.  When I say often I mean I see three or four every fall.  I don't see an issue.  When I find a bumble bee nest in my yard I mark it with a push in post (made for electric fences) and a flag and point it out to the grandkids so they don't step in it.
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2011, 10:25:12 PM »

Ever since I went to SBB I've only seen one dead bumble (the pollen falls right through). We get huge huge numbers of the bumbles here every year, they sound like squadrons of the old prop driven bombers in the oak trees,  for whatever reasons there's stuff they don't pollinate that the honeybees do and the other way around, but anything they have in common they just work the source side by side - I don't know if the bumbles make any difference in honey production - they've been around since I started keeping bees - they're not aggressive so they're welcome to stay around as long as they like.
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