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Author Topic: Discussion with Jamie Ellis  (Read 2710 times)
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« on: March 23, 2007, 09:47:54 AM »

This is the exchange of emails between myself and Dr. James Ellis (Jamie) .
Assistant Professor of Entomology
Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory
Department of Entomology and Nematology
University of Florida

I have done some editing to the emails to removes headers and discussion
topics that do not pertain to the conversation on AHB in South Florida.
This is the conversation over six emails.

I want it clearly understood while I do not agree with everything Jamie
says, however he has a Phd, great credentials, and more experience than
I do to back him up. So what I want from members is intelligent
questions and statements so that I can further address this matter. Most
scientist are open to well founded ideas so be smart. And ask lots of
questions. I do not intend to put Jamie on the defensive so I will feed
the trolls to the mods.

Brendhan The action plan for Florida on dealing with the AHB
issue states in it: "News reports of mass   stinging attacks will
promote concern and in some cases panic and  anxiety, and cause citizens
to demand responsible agencies and organizations to take action to help
insure their safety. We anticipate increased pressure from the public to
ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas. This action would be
counter-productive. Beekeepers maintaining managed colonies of domestic
European bees are our best defense against an area becoming saturated
with AHB. These managed bees are filling an ecological niche that would
soon be occupied by less desirable colonies if it were vacant. "

http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/plantinsp/apiary/ahbgroup/actionplan.doc
 Yet in a newspaper article for southwest Florida, Dr. Jamie Ellis is
quoted as saying it would be better to remove a potential AHB hive .
http://www.sun-herald.com/Newsstory.cfm?pubdate=030907&story=tp1ch6.htm&folder=NewsArchive2

 
Jamie These two stories are not at odds with one another. We
fully recommend NOT banning beekeeping (as outlined by Jerry's FDACS
information) but we DO recommend removing all FERAL colonies of bees (as
I was quoted as saying) that are in close proximity to the public. The
two are not at odds. Jerry, others, and I have been 'preaching' hard
that managed bee colonies are not the problem. We only need to remove
feral colonies that are a direct threat to people, those that show up in
neighborhoods, water meters, etc. We refer to these bees as 'nuisance'
bees.

PCO stands for pest control operator
FDACS stands for Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Brendhan I would be very interested in what the DNA test are on
that hive .

Jamie  We likely will never know what the colony is. Again, at
this point it doesn't really matter. It was a feral colony located close
to people and it needed to be removed. It truly pains me to say that; I
hate killing bees (I REALLY hate killing bees!). But we simply can't
tell what the bees are unless we have a sample. Then, it may take 3+
weeks to do the analysis. FDACS receives numerous samples and everyone
who sends a sample considers their own sample a priority. So you can see
the dilemma we are in here. By the time bees are adequately sampled and
determined to be African or European, they could have attacked and
killed someone. I hope you understand the position in which we find
ourselves.

The State of Florida does 2 tests on it's bees. Test #1 is called
morphometrics. It determines AHB based on measurements of the bee. Test
2 is a mitochondrial DNA test which can determine the maternal side of
the bee. I will post more on this in another topic at a later time


Brendhan In regards to the feral colonies. I hold a slightly
different point of view. Feral colonies are not bad. Not all feral
colonies are AHB. And yes AHB are here to stay. And dealing with AHB is
very important issue. However every time we remove a feral colony we
create a vacuum that leaves an opening for the frequent swarming AHB to
occupy. it is far easier in my opinion for AHB to move into a void vs
trying to take over a weak colony.

I understand that this point of view is not the accepted practices of
dealing with ferals but I see no reason to kill good bees. If a swarm
removal or cut out is all that is needed to make a property owner happy
I would rather do that. And make the bees useful and productive. If we
can keep friendly bees in that area that would be the best situation.

I have been doing cut outs for almost two years now. Bees can be
aggressive without being AHB. The worst attack I ever got was when I
dropped a hive. Second worse was in dealing with a hive that was
queenless. I understand that those are not AHB hives but over 500
stingers in my clothes say it was an unpleasant experience. I agree that
aggressive hives feral or not are of no benefit to anyone. Aggressive
hives either get requeened or dealt with in other ways.

The problem I am seeing is that the media screams AHB every time a swarm
is removed even if the hive tests negative. This pattern from the media
and from people going out and giving AHB lectures does nothing more than
reinforce the fear that exists. We do not encourage people to become
even hobbiest beekeepers when all they hear is Killer Bees.

I want people to understand the dangers of AHBs but I don't want to
discourage them from being interested in beekeeping.

Also AHBs are raised by beekeepers in other parts of the world and the
southwest United States.. The techniques to deal with them exist. if the
AHB spread is going to continue. I would like to see what can be done to
train beekeepers on how to handle them as pollinators and honey
producers.

I realize that this is at odds with many of the stands of the
cooperative extension and the dept. of Agriculture but when at the South
Florida fair this year the most common question asked about our
observation hive was "Are those Africanized bees?" I believe that the
status quo might need to change.

Jamie You raise a good point about 'keeping' Af bees. That can be
done. I lived in South Africa for 3 years and worked with this bee all
the time. I have a tremendous amount of first-hand experience with the
bee. The problem is not the beekeepers can't manage the bees, it's the
road worker cutting the ditch close to your colonies, or your neighbor
cutting his/her grass, etc. The southwest is not nearly as populated as
FL (neither do they 'keep' Af bees intentionally). We are running out of
land in FL and places to keep colonies are becoming scarce. You can't
manage Af bees close to people. It is a safety and liability issue
(despite that it can be done).

It truly is a tough stance to take but my position is borne out of
experience (both mine and that of others). For some reason, our message
seems to be very unpopular to beekeepers and that is not our intention
at all. I want to make a point to say that EVERY TIME we discuss AHBs,
we discuss the beneficial aspects of honey bees. The press prints what
they want. I don't believe peoples' idea of bees is tarnishing. The fact
that they ask you 'are those Africanized bees' when you are at the fair
means that they recognize there is another, 'good' bee. And hey, that
allows you to jump in and tell them the difference. Despite how it may
seem, we work hard to protect FL citizens and FL beekeepers. To be fair,
I'm one of both.

I did not mean to infer that all feral colonies are bad. Neither do I
mean to infer that feral Af bee colonies are bad. To be honest, African
bees probably will be more helpful in instances of pollinator decline
than harmful in instances of attack. Yet, that doesn't absolve us from
protecting people and removing 'problem' feral colonies from places
people frequent is not overreacting.

You are correct when you suggest that not all feral colonies are AHB.
However, out of all of the bee samples taken from feral bee colonies in
Southern Florida in 2006, 80% were AHBs. That means 8 out of every 10
wild colonies that are in South Florida are Af bees! This number will
grow over the next few years to where 'almost' all feral colonies will
be AHBs.

Brendhan When (please give year) can we expect 95% or better AHB
infestation of feral colonies in south Florida? Approx imitations are
acceptable. Please include margin of error.

Jamie I would not dare to venture a guess. It is safe to say that
percentage will increase (it has doubled steadily every year since
2002). This is not surprising at all considering how amazing the African
bee truly is.

You mention the 'ecological vacuum' that many people make reference to
when discussing AHB. In reality, removing a handful of feral colonies
that are in problem areas will do very little invite or even discourage
more bees from moving into an area. You are correct, removing an AHB
colony from a site opens that site to another swarming colony. However,
this will not be the case if the bee remover does his/her job to close
off the site once the bees are removed. Another point to consider, it
really doesn't matter if we remove one nesting site by blocking it off,
there are enough nesting sites out there to where AHBs will just go
somewhere else. So, I think that removing a colony will have very little
impact on more AHBs moving into an area.

Again, I want to stress that it pains me to suggest we kill 'perfectly
good bees'. You have to remember though, there is no easy way to tell
what is and is not a 'perfectly good bee'. In my opinion as a scientist,
all bees are perfectly good and I really believe that. As someone who
has to protect 19 million FL residents, any feral bee colony that nests
close to locations where humans frequent must be considered for
eradication. I know this sounds harsh but consider this: 50% of all AHB
attacks on humans occurred when the victim knew the nest was there for
some time but did nothing about it! That means 50% of all AHB attacks on
people are 100% preventable! I've seen the bee. I know what it can do.
We've not seen it live up to its potential here yet.

Another thing I want to point out in this regard..........far fewer
nests are removed from properties than actually exist in the wild. For
example, AHB's saturate an area once they become established. Removing 1
or 2 problem colonies around a person's home will do little to the
thousands of colonies left in the wild and safely away from people.

Beekeepers always make the argument that they can remove swarms or cut
out nests and use the 'good bees'. What they don't understand is that
(1) if the colony is AHB, then the beekeeper is taking AHB drones to
his/her apiary to mate with his/her virgin Euro queens even if he finds
the AHB queen in the colony and kills her (the beekeeper is only slowing
the problem by killing the queen) (2) what if the beekeeper can't find
the queen (which is VERY common), (3) what if the swarm or colony is a
very defensive AHB colony and something goes wrong during the removal?
Did the beekeeper look to make sure the neighbor's dog is not chained?
Did they make sure the kids just down the road were not outside playing?
How about the person sunbathing by the pool next door?

I hope you see where I am going with this. I am happy that you have not
run into a 'hot' AHB colony in your 2 years of swarm removal. As AHBs
saturate the area more, you may eventually hit a 'hot' colony and that's
when people can get hurt (or killed?). I agree that bees can bee
'aggressive' (I prefer the term 'defensive', 'aggressive' implies they
hunt people) without being AHB. That is more an exception rather than
the rule though. It is equally true to say that AHB can be the gentlest
bees you will ever work. But in reality they can be quite defensive and
many people can get hurt or killed if something goes wrong.

To be honest, few people will ever be attacked by bees, and then few of
those attacks will be caused by AHBs. The catch is, we all must do what
we can to save lives. Neither I nor my colleagues have problems with
managed Euro colonies (if the beekeeper is following BMPs - as I believe
Jerry sent to you). We just never can know about what type of bee a
feral bee is unless someone samples the bees. You think the press is
giving bees a bad rap now. What do you think they would do if someone
botched a removal and an innocent citizen was killed? We are doing
everything we can to keep that from happening.

The BMP is the Beekeeper Management Practice sheet. All registered
beekeepers in Florida are required to sign it. You may view it at

http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/plantinsp/apiary/bmp_ehb.doc

BrendhanIn removal of feral hives, I remove all comb including
scraping as much as I can. It is up to the homeowner to repair any
openings left behind by a proper contractor. I however try to leave a
swarm trap in the areas. I have very good results with this method also
it is much easier to remove bees from a swarm trap than a roof sophet.

You note how 50% of AHB attacks are 100%  preventable. I am not sure I
agree with that because it assumes a hive has been AHB from the moment
it established it's presence. I know that is splitting hairs. However
for me I am just as happy with homeowner who decides the bees in the
sophet of his back patio can stay as I am when I ask to remove them and
give them a good home. As a rough test if you can run a mower or
weedwacker without getting bees worked up then you are not in bad shape.

Not a true AHB test but a nice way to see how aggressive the bees are.

Jamie My comments were based on data out of the southwestern US
where 50% of all AHB attacks happen when people knew the colonies were
there for some time. You are right, they might not have 'started' AHB 6
months ago. However, can you really make the argument they can be left
until they start to turn defensive? People usually discover this the
hard way. The average person does not know that, in general, new swarms
replace their old queen within months of establishing their home. When
she is replaced, her virgin daughter mates with drones in the area. If
80% of these drones are AHB drones, the colony quickly becomes
'Africanized' in fewer than 6 months. Even if we sampled the bees early
on and determined them to be the 'good' Euro bees, they are virtually
'destined' to become AHBs when the area is saturated with AHBs. Loosing
someone is a difficult way to verify this truth.

Brendhan I do agree with you that my removal of colonies from
homes doesn't make a dent in the feral populationStatewide.
However South Florida's tri county area has more bee removers and
exterminators than it has bee keepers. I would be interested in finding
out how many hives are professionally removed in Palm Beach, Broward,
and Dade counties each year.  I am willing to harbor an uneducated guess
that in South Florida it does have an impact. Also as development
continues in South Florida which is quite extensive. Rural areas are
becoming more and more scarce. In areas like east cost areas on the east
side of I-95 from Miami to Jupiter you can barely see trees anymore. So
as a rough guess bees in these areas are hanging out in the woods. Also
if the AHBs are in the woods away from people than the level of threat
is greatly reduced.

Jamie I also would love to see how many colonies are removed per
year in S. Florida. Estimates from S. America is that you can have more
than 300 feral bee nests per square mile. If this is the case, then the
PCO's would need to be removing hundreds (maybe thousands) of colonies
before they even addressed 1% of all of the feral colonies. I don't
worry much about the bees 'in the wild', except perhaps because of the
occasional hiker or outdoor worker. Like I told you, just this week I
counted 10 feral bee colonies in power poles down 1 stretch of 1 rd on 1
side of the rd for 1/2 a mile (Ft. Pierce). That is quite a high density
of colonies.

Brendhan I remember the BMP once he(Jerry Hayes) sent me a copy
of it. The acronym through me for a bit. The BMP is nice. However, my
problem is that most production queens are raised in places that use  a
lot of chemicals. My biggest problems with disease and queens have been
from packages. The feral colonies seem in my observation to be stronger
and less disease ridden right now than what I am seeing in package bees.

I realize that is not scientific but I have gotten tired of throwing
money away on items from Hawaii, Texas, Georgia, and New Jersey for
stuff that isn't worth the price. The price of hives and queens has gone
up just in the two years I have been doing this. I can't imagine how
pollinators are going to affect the price trying to replace CCD loses.

Replacing unmarked queens every six months borders on the ridiculous in
my eyes. I understand the point but, the cost becomes outrageous and as
I stated before I am no longer impressed by "production queens." I know
that is a slightly off mentality with the AHB issue, but I don't have a
Varroa problem or a small hive beetle problem and I don't have
aggressive bees. However in order to be fair, since the testing for AHB
is free. I will be sending samples in for testing. I cannot wait to see
the results.

Jamie You are correct again, today's production queens can be
poor. However, many people are perfectly satisfied with the queens they
purchase. I've raised my own queens in the past to avoid this problem (a
practice I stopped once I arrived in FL). One must just find a couple of
queen breeders whose product satisfies them. With the hundreds (or
more?) of queen breeders out there, you should be able to find a handful
whose product you like. If not, Jerry's office produces a BMPs for queen
production in Florida. If you follow it, you should be able to produce
your own queens.

Replacing unmarked queens every 6 months is a financial drain. But
remember, they don't have to be replaced unless they are unclipped
and/or unmarked. Replacing queens from an unknown source is the only way
to 'be sure' that you don't have Africanized bees (if one can be sure).
I think about it this way, replacing unmarked queens with known-source
European queens is cheaper than being sued for keeping Af bees that
attacked someone. The flipside to this (as you well state) is where do
you get cheap, quality queens? You just have to experiment and find some
that work for you.

Brendhan I don't want to seem antagonistic. I want to see what
can be done to beekeeping back in a more positive limelight with people.

Nothing takes care of AHBs like having lots of backyard hives throwing
out EHB drones to go and mate with a AHB queen on a mating flight.

I think the bigger problem than AHB is the public relations nightmare we
are having with the general public and the media. I think being stung by
an aggressive AHB hive is easier to deal with and less painful than
dealing with a poison pen and a reporter trying to justify their job. I
want the PBCbeekeeprs to help in this. I want to see more members join
whether they have an interest in backyard beekeeping or an dream of
having a thousand hive they move from one place to another.

Jamie I could not agree more.....I want more and more people to
take up beekeeping. I believe they can and that they should. My goal
while here is to see that FL has more beekeepers when I leave (retire)
than when I arrived. But to be honest, I don't think the media's scare
tactics discourages would-be beekeepers from taking up beekeeping. I do,
however, think that they do reinforce public fears needlessly. We can't
change what they write, but we can show the public that we are doing (1)
everything we can to protect them from AHB while (2) helping foster the
growth and development of our important bee industry.

With all that said, have you followed all of the 'good' press that we've
been doing with bees? Read any of the CCD articles and you will see that
the same group of people working hard to minimize AHB damage is working
hard to tell people that we need honey bees. The public is responding
positively. I am quite optimistic that the right things are being said.

You ask a good question...how does one deal with the media? I can tell
you from experience, you can talk with them for 1 hour about the
benefits....they want to print the attacks. How do you counter this?
Write articles for your local papers. Call your regional papers and let
them come out and do a story on your bees. Be vocal. Write letters to
the editors (being very careful not to sound hard-hearted). Show up at
fairs (which it sounds like you are doing), sponsor honey days (NEFBA
did a very good one late last year), etc. People do notice so don't get
discouraged.

Brendhan I disagree with you on the effect of media scare tactics
on would be beekeepers. Go find out how many Florida boy scouts even
bother to pursue the beekeeping merit badge. You may be disappointed. I
agree with you completely on the rest of your comment that we need to
show the public what we are doing. I just find fighting the 6:00 news
report on firefighters being called out to train or deal with a beehive
hard to battle.

Jamie Has this gone up? Down? Or stayed the same? How about
asking how many people take up beekeeping every year? That remains
constant (if not increasing). You could also make the argument that boy
scouts increasingly caters to city youth. And in today's 'sterile'
cities, beekeeping may be frowned upon by scout parents. You are right,
we have made it to the point we are splitting hairs. One could argue
this point either way. For every person AHBs discourage from taking up
beekeeping, I believe there are 2 people in their ranks who can't wait
to begin.

Brendhan If the issue is that you can raise AHBs and that AHBs
are going to sweep over areas in Florida in the upcoming years. And we
are running out of space. Trying to fight the AHB infestation becomes an
exercise in futility in my opinion (not scientifically based). I agree
that the beekeeper isn't the problem the backhoe doing roadwork is. That
is an excellent point that I will have to look into further. Maybe
beekeepers should keep a weed whacker as a standard tool. The black flag
aggression test is nice but the weed whacker high pitched whine would
probably be better. I believe AHB can be breeded to a more docile state
like they are doing in Brazil. I raise nice bees but I won't do it in
shorts and a tank top and those guys do.

JamieYou are right, that's why we are not fighting AHB
infestation!!!! We are only removing potentially problematic colonies.
Quite a difference between the two.

That said, AHBs have not discouraged beekeeping in the Southwest, even
with the news media.

Brendhan Maybe in order to deal with AHB we can import the lazy
cape bee. I think that would make the AHB problem and CCD almost
insignificant.  Wink  (might make standard honeybees insignificant also)

Jamie Cape bees are beautiful. I do hope, however, that they
never make it to the US. An amazing bee, biologically.

This article is posted with Jamie's knowledge.

Sincerely,
Brendhan

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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2007, 10:15:39 AM »

Brendhan, you are an amazing man.  I am glad I live far enough north that (so far) the AHB probably couldn't live up here.  I'll keep my cold winters.  You will be getting some very interesting and good comments on yours and Jamie's conversations.  Best of your day.  Cindi
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2007, 06:18:13 PM »


So what I want from members is intelligent questions and statements so that I can further address this matter. Most scientist are open to well founded ideas so be smart. And ask lots of
questions.



I'm afraid I don't quite understand what matter needs further addressing.  Do you not agree that S.Florida feral colonies should be assumed to contain AHB genetics?  Is the "ecological vacuum" factor being neglected?  Are you looking for a raise-release program for "good" drones?  Do you want to see the media moderated?




Beekeepers maintaining managed colonies of domestic European bees are our best defense against an area becoming saturated with AHB. These managed bees are filling an ecological niche that would
soon be occupied by less desirable colonies if it were vacant. " [/i]
       /actionplan.doc
 Yet in a newspaper article for southwest Florida, Dr. Jamie Ellis is quoted as saying it would be better to remove a potential AHB hive .
       pubdate=030907&story=tp1ch6.htm&folder=NewsArchive2
 
Jamie These two stories are not at odds with one another. We fully recommend NOT banning beekeeping (as outlined by Jerry's FDACS information) but we DO recommend removing all FERAL colonies of bees (as I was quoted as saying) that are in close proximity to the public. The two are not at odds.



The word "yet" implies to me that the two links are not in agreement? Where is this disagreement/conflict?



You are correct when you suggest that not all feral colonies are AHB.
However, out of all of the bee samples taken from feral bee colonies in
Southern Florida in 2006, 80% were AHBs. That means 8 out of every 10
wild colonies that are in South Florida are Af bees! This number will
grow over the next few years to where 'almost' all feral colonies will
be AHBs.

Brendhan When (please give year) can we expect 95% or better AHB
infestation of feral colonies in south Florida? Approx imitations are
acceptable. Please include margin of error.

Jamie I would not dare to venture a guess. It is safe to say that
percentage will increase (it has doubled steadily every year since
2002). This is not surprising at all considering how amazing the African
bee truly is.

Why can an extrapolation of data not be done?  Are the numbers collected from 02-06 not accurate or precise?

 1.) Why has the decision been made to only address potential AHB's in close proximity to man?
2.)  Can "ecological vacuum" mean more than just increased potential nesting holes?  What about the potential nectar resources?  Would it be worthwhile to try to starve out feral AHB by promoting an increased number of managed EHB's?
3.)  Beekeepers are required to sign the BMP, but the first item on the list states it is a voluntary program.  So what good is it? 

I'm new here, if I would have been better off keeping my mouth shut-let me know and I'll just follow this one.  I would certainly have noproblem.  I'm going to read this post a few more times and see if I can get a better understanding embarassed






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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2007, 08:45:15 PM »


So what I want from members is intelligent questions and statements so that I can further address this matter. Most scientist are open to well founded ideas so be smart. And ask lots of
questions.



I'm afraid I don't quite understand what matter needs further addressing.  Do you not agree that S.Florida feral colonies should be assumed to contain AHB genetics?  Is the "ecological vacuum" factor being neglected?  Are you looking for a raise-release program for "good" drones?  Do you want to see the media moderated?
No, I don't agree that South Florida Colonies should be assumed to be AHB. I am looking for a way to not just go out and destroy every hive on the basis of an assumption that since it is a feral hive it must be AHB and must be destroyed.


Quote

Beekeepers maintaining managed colonies of domestic European bees are our best defense against an area becoming saturated with AHB. These managed bees are filling an ecological niche that would
soon be occupied by less desirable colonies if it were vacant. " [/i]
       /actionplan.doc
 Yet in a newspaper article for southwest Florida, Dr. Jamie Ellis is quoted as saying it would be better to remove a potential AHB hive .
       pubdate=030907&story=tp1ch6.htm&folder=NewsArchive2
 
Jamie These two stories are not at odds with one another. We fully recommend NOT banning beekeeping (as outlined by Jerry's FDACS information) but we DO recommend removing all FERAL colonies of bees (as I was quoted as saying) that are in close proximity to the public. The two are not at odds.



The word "yet" implies to me that the two links are not in agreement? Where is this disagreement/conflict?
The disagreement is in what is stated in the FDACS. That report also wants the European Beehives to be used to assit in filling the "niche." Yet they go out and destroy every feral hive and bees continue to move back in and then they are more likely to be aggressive.
Quote

You are correct when you suggest that not all feral colonies are AHB.
However, out of all of the bee samples taken from feral bee colonies in
Southern Florida in 2006, 80% were AHBs. That means 8 out of every 10
wild colonies that are in South Florida are Af bees! This number will
grow over the next few years to where 'almost' all feral colonies will
be AHBs.

Brendhan When (please give year) can we expect 95% or better AHB
infestation of feral colonies in south Florida? Approx imitations are
acceptable. Please include margin of error.

Jamie I would not dare to venture a guess. It is safe to say that
percentage will increase (it has doubled steadily every year since
2002). This is not surprising at all considering how amazing the African
bee truly is.

Why can an extrapolation of data not be done?  Are the numbers collected from 02-06 not accurate or precise?

 1.) Why has the decision been made to only address potential AHB's in close proximity to man?
2.)  Can "ecological vacuum" mean more than just increased potential nesting holes?  What about the potential nectar resources?  Would it be worthwhile to try to starve out feral AHB by promoting an increased number of managed EHB's?
3.)  Beekeepers are required to sign the BMP, but the first item on the list states it is a voluntary program.  So what good is it? 

I'm new here, if I would have been better off keeping my mouth shut-let me know and I'll just follow this one.  I would certainly have noproblem.  I'm going to read this post a few more times and see if I can get a better understanding embarassed

Welcome aboard . Don't be bashful you raise some very good points. Also I want you to know the BMP is voluntary if you want registered bees. If your bees aren't registered you can be fined or have your hives destroyed. So that sort of voluntary isn't exactly voluntary. But what I will ask Jerry Hayes about the specfics of the voluntary nature.

Thank you for taking the time to go through and read it.

Sincerely,
brendhan
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2007, 09:07:46 PM »

Brendhan, I did a google search but came up with very little info - do you know any more about these Cape Bees Jamie mentioned?
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2007, 10:30:14 PM »

well I will post later, after reading all that im tired now Wink , good post!!!!!
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2007, 08:37:05 AM »


I keep African Bees, mind, not the africanized ones. Despite having been involved but for a short time, I could not but notice that bees of different colonies have different defensive dispositions (I also prefer the description "defensive" to "aggressive" for the same reasons Jamie does).

To me, a clear indication that African bees can be selectively bred for a gentler trait (and apparently practiced in South America). I presume the same would hold true for africanized bees. Now no such selective breeding is being practiced around where I live in West Africa (I will start once my stock is large enough), nor from very limited exchange of information in East Africa either - at least not for a long enough period of time to evaluate whether successful.

IMO, the africanized bee is going to stay, at least in the southern parts of the US. Africanized drones will ensure a steady genetic invasion of EHB populations in those areas where aHB are found, unless all insemination is done instrumentally.

If you think the following questions relevant to pass on, I would be interested to read Jamie's comments.

1) would you consider it feasible to breed aHB selectively for gentle disposition, release as many gentle drones and swarms, and generally "tame" the FL aHB population ?

2) as you have spent time in South Africa, could you tell us whether there has been selective breeding for less defensive strains and what the experiences are ?
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2007, 10:50:43 AM »

reinbeau
Cape bees
http://www.beekeeping.com/articles/us/battle_of_the_bees.htm
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg16622343.600-cape-invaders.html
http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/17895;jsessionid=baa9...

The comment on cape bees was a bit of sarcasm. Even S. African beekeepers are having a problem with the cape bee. A worker invades the hive disquises itself as the queen. The AHB kill their queen and care for the worker cape bee as a queen. Now the hive has a laying worker cape bee as it's queen. The problem is the worker cape bee lays more lazy worker cape bees that don't go in search of honey but other hives to invade. Eventually the hive dies because it starves to death because it doesn't collect any honey. While cape bees are not as defensive as AHB they also are lousy honey producers and cause hives to die. If they hit the US it would destroy not only AHB hives but EHB hives. The cape be is an amazing bee "biologically" but that doesn't mean it is a good thing for bee keepers.

empilolo You ask great questions and I will present them to Jamie. Let me throw my thoughts in on this.
1) I would like to see that kind of program take place. The concern becomes feral hives how do we know what their disposition will be. I think if we had more backyard beekeepers it would help. I also think that if we destroy every feral hive out there even if the odds are it is an AHB hive we hurt ourselves. AHB hives tend to swarm more and saturate an area. EHB hives swarm also but not as much let EHBs get a foothold in the populated areas. Let them throw off drones. Requeen aggressive hives. Work with the more docile AHBs. If all we leave in the unpopulated areas are AHB hives that is all that will move into the populated areas. Also I think the AHB hype is a bit over dramatic. There are more deaths in S. Florida on the road in 1 month than there have been in the US since the AHBs crossed into the US over 15 years ago. Yes, they are more defensive. So what? If you handle it intellegently they become a non issue. Don't aggitate the bees. If you have a concern about the bees. Have someone come out and test them. If they are AHB requeen them. If they are in an area that is unsafe to people even as EHB relocate them.

2) I would love to see that happen the problem is the feral AHB hives in unpopulated areas outnumber any realistic program they could come with for doing this in the short term. I do not thing that AHB could be turned nice overnight. I think that if was done correctly over 20 years it could cause a massive shift in the AHB issue. But that would take a lot ob bees and a lot of time. people don't want slow long term solutions they want quick fixes.

One thing needs to understood the AHB is an amazing bee. It has adapted well to it's needs. It has evolved to be able to protect itself and continue to grow. While it may be a highly defensive bee. It is highly effective at protecting the hive unit for continued growth. That has to be taken into account when dealing with this. I think docile programs will work if we let them and we work on making sure that unpopulated and populated areas also become part of the focus. Over time it could be quite a change.


Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2007, 11:07:29 AM »

>do you know any more about these Cape Bees Jamie mentioned?

Try searching on "Apis mellifera capensis" or "A. m. capenis"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_mellifera_capensis
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2007, 11:20:36 AM »

The Africanized bees on this side of the ocean came from twenty something queens. Over the past fifty some odd years they have spread all over south America, central America, and are now in North America. What makes you think there is any way to "calm" these bees down since it hasn't happened over all these years, the thousands of miles they traveled and the millions of European bees they have encountered in all that time? Perhaps the African gene is the dominant gene and there is nothing one can do about it....... With out going to GMO bees.
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2007, 06:43:40 PM »

reinbeau
Cape bees
http://www.beekeeping.com/articles/us/battle_of_the_bees.htm
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg16622343.600-cape-invaders.html
http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/17895;jsessionid=baa9...

The comment on cape bees was a bit of sarcasm. Even S. African beekeepers are having a problem with the cape bee. A worker invades the hive disquises itself as the queen. The AHB kill their queen and care for the worker cape bee as a queen. Now the hive has a laying worker cape bee as it's queen. The problem is the worker cape bee lays more lazy worker cape bees that don't go in search of honey but other hives to invade. Eventually the hive dies because it starves to death because it doesn't collect any honey. While cape bees are not as defensive as AHB they also are lousy honey producers and cause hives to die. If they hit the US it would destroy not only AHB hives but EHB hives. The cape be is an amazing bee "biologically" but that doesn't mean it is a good thing for bee keepers.
Sincerely,
Brendhan
Thank you, Brendhan.  The first link is a good one, it had a picture, I was trying to see what Jamie meant when he said it was a 'pretty bee'.  I kept running into the New Scientist link that doesn't work well, you have to sign up to read the whole article. 

The cape bees sound like a cowbird, that lays its eggs in other birds' nests.  The baby cowbird hatches first and uses its back to roll out any other eggs or babies it senses.  The poor parent birds end up rearing a cowbird, not their own! 
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2007, 06:55:49 PM »

Ann, eeks!!!  I know about that cowbird.  They come here in the summertime and leave in the fall.  I love the throaty sound they make.  I heard one for the first time yesterday in the hemlocks I keep short by my bird feeder.  (That is the border of my property, where I posted a picture last week of my husband doing the pruning of them).  I love the sound they make, but it really does annoy me about them laying eggs in other nests, what a bunch of buggers eh?  Have the great day.  Cindi
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2007, 08:19:41 PM »

The Africanized bees on this side of the ocean came from twenty something queens. Over the past fifty some odd years they have spread all over south America, central America, and are now in North America. What makes you think there is any way to "calm" these bees down since it hasn't happened over all these years, the thousands of miles they traveled and the millions of European bees they have encountered in all that time? Perhaps the African gene is the dominant gene and there is nothing one can do about it....... With out going to GMO bees.
You raise an excellent point. However what has happened over the 50+ years since their release is that they have been breeding far more docile AHB in South America. Also I think the media hype makes this seem worse than it actually is. As defensive as AHBs may be. There have been very few deaths and severe injuries due to AHB in regards to attack on humans. I am not saying they don't happen but I think that it gets blown way out of proportion.

Since you live in a AHB positive state, what issues do you have with AHB? How have your encounters been with feral hives? Do your hives get inspected? If so what are the standards? I am just curious as to how another AHB positive state deals with the issue. Because from the news wire services I get. I would say that Florida is good at overreacting. I don't get a lot of reports of problems in Texas.

Thanks for raising some good points.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2007, 11:27:08 PM »

From all I can gather there are three inspectors in the whole state of Texas and they are 400 miles away from me. The Ag extension office here knows very little to nothing about bees. If I wanted an inspection of the hives I think it would cost me.
Lubbock county is considered AHB positive but I haven't run into anything as defensive as they are reported to be. I don't hear much about bees at all. Heard a few reported deaths due to AHB but these are several years old I think. 
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2007, 08:39:55 AM »

From all I can gather there are three inspectors in the whole state of Texas and they are 400 miles away from me. The Ag extension office here knows very little to nothing about bees. If I wanted an inspection of the hives I think it would cost me.
Lubbock county is considered AHB positive but I haven't run into anything as defensive as they are reported to be. I don't hear much about bees at all. Heard a few reported deaths due to AHB but these are several years old I think. 

Thanks for the reply.
Your response is kinda the point I am trying to make with Jamie. I think Florida has overreacted to AHB. We send firetrucks to every report of a swarm. Every swarm is suppose to be destroyed and then tested. I don't mind Florida requiring hive inspections they look for AFB and other diseases and check the hives health. If a hive is hot they want you to requeen it. And it doesn't cost very much. However they have a bad attitude toward feral hives. This area is AHB positive. Yet there have been no real attacks or deaths from AHB in this area. So either the PCO and bee removers are working and can effectively control AHB infestation or the cooperative extension have gotten lucky so far.

I think the media makes it very hard to bring about new beekeepers and I believe there are less beekeepers nationwide now than there were 10 years ago. I think the two are related. I know that palm beach County tries very hard to discourage beekeeping in any area zoned residential. I think the county is shooting itself in the foot for doing it.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2007, 11:27:39 AM »

It seems to me that we need to get rid of bees that are defensive and keep the ones that aren't.  If there are AHB that are not defensive (and I'm not saying there are or aren't), we would want those as they are our only hope in the long run.  Destroying them is a foolish waste of the only resource we have to resolve the problem.
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« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2007, 05:09:16 AM »


A few thoughts on "Killer Bees" media hype. A personal observation.

I am mortally afraid of snakes. You talk snakes with any African, not only will their bite kill you, beware of the poisonous tail as well. VERY DANGEROUS ANIMAL, SNAKE. Now I have been living in West Africa for over 25 years with my pet hate, snakes. So I have been Mega interested about snakes and my likely chances of survival.

I have had a number of acquaintances die in car accidents, one died in an airplane crash (one survived, another crash), two were shot dead (two more, including me, survived being shot) - BUT NOT A SINGLE PERSON I KNOW WAS BITTEN BY A SNAKE. I had several snakes in my own house, more in the garden; nobody bitten. Nor have I been able to find a single person who actually knows a person ever bitten by a snake.

Right, I know two guys who have been stung by bees. Both of them used to go honey hunting in their less affluent youth - both have a sweet tooth. Now they buy their honey (and let others take the stings). Since I got a serious interest in keeping bees lately, I have started making enquiries and did not come across a single story about somebody dying due to bee stings. That is at 100 percent exposure to the real thing.

The company I work for does quite a bit of land clearing jobs (dozers, excavators, swamp buggies) and our climate/land is very similar to Fl. We even buy a lot of equipment from Fl. If our machines come across a colony in the bush, they simply pull back, work elsewhere for two days and when they return the bees have usually gone. I am the guy dishing out chits for staff to see the company doc. None for treatment of bee stings yet.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y32/empilolo/buggera2.jpg

So to me it does look like the whole issue has been blown up out of all proportion. I fully agree with Brendhan that the Fl action plan is an overreaction, doing probably more harm than good.

Adapting to aHB will take time. But a sensible approach policy to the problem (such as Brendhan's) may have a much better chance to succeed than what is on the ground now. Managed EHB, as well as docile aHB strains in the hands of beekeepers, would be the way to go IMO. If not, the wild hordes from the bush will constantly invade urban areas, causing a lot of money to be spend on a "defense force".

@ Jerrymac. I venture a guess. Not all aHB are hot, perhaps even only a relatively small percentage. And yes, it sure looks as if at least some African genetics are dominant.

Those African genes are not all bad, especially under tropical/subtropical conditions. They can be harnessed as done in South America.
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« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2007, 05:52:31 AM »

empilolo

Thank you for taking the time to make your response. I appreciate it.

Just out of curiosity and not to sidetrack but what snake has a posionous tail?

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2007, 07:37:12 AM »

No snake with a poisonous tail known to me either, but loads of folks here believe in the tale of the poisonous tail. They are serious about it. Both heads and tails are cut off and buried as quickly as possible. Oh, and all snakes are poisonous too. It's what people believe that matters and if told of a "fact" often enough, they will believe it.

Brendhan, thanks for starting this thread. I think you are doing a public service for trying to sway attitude towards another approach to the problem. Divert peoples attention from the remote possibility of an attack by bees towards absence of pollination of so many crops in the absence of bees (although I think we beekeepers tend to overrate the bees importance).

Bees are not territorial, so theorethically they would establish any number of colonies in a given area. Nevertheless, there may be some relugary mechanism and keeping "decent" bees in urban areas may works as a barrier to invasion by aHB.
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2007, 05:55:01 PM »

You asked. He answered. Good job. Thank you.

 Brendhan,

My answers are embedded below.

Jamie


Jamie Ellis, PhD
Assistant Professor of Entomology
Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory
Department of Entomology and Nematology
University of Florida
Bldg 970 Natural Area Drive
PO Box 110620
Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
Phone (352) 392 1901 Ext: 130
Fax (352) 392 0190


"BenC (Smithsburg, Maryland)  asked:
Why can an extrapolation of data not be done?  Are the numbers collected
from 02-06 not accurate or precise?"

--------
An extrapolation can be done. It's just that no one has done it. The %
of feral colonies that were African from 2002-2006 is 7ish, 12ish,
18ish, 40ish, and 80ish (I put the 'ish' because I am reading the data
from a graph and I don't have the exact numbers before me).
--------


 "1.) Why has the decision been made to only address potential AHB's in
close proximity to man?
2.)  Can "ecological vacuum" mean more than just increased potential
nesting holes?  What about the potential nectar resources?  Would it be
worthwhile to try to starve out feral AHB by promoting an increased
number of managed EHB's?
3.)  Beekeepers are required to sign the BMP, but the first item on the
list states it is a voluntary program.  So what good is it?"

---------
1) because an all out assault on all feral colonies across the state is
not practical.  It's the colonies located close to where we frequent
that are the problem colonies.
2) Yes, the vacuum can refer to more than just nesting sites.
Hypothetically, it is possible to increase the Euro bee colonies to a
point where they out compete Af colonies. We are very much in favor of
this approach. That's why we tell cities NOT to ban beekeeping. Not only
does having tons of Euro bees limiting Af nesting sites, but they also
can out compete Af bees. The only downside to this is that Af bees tend
to win this tug-of-war rather than the other way around.
3)  Beekeepers are not 'required' to sign BMPs. It is completely
voluntary.
---------


"empilolo (Nigeria) asked:

I keep African Bees, mind, not the africanized ones. Despite having been
involved but for a short time, I could not but notice that bees of
different colonies have different defensive dispositions (I also prefer
the description "defensive" to "aggressive" for the same reasons Jamie
does).

To me, a clear indication that African bees can be selectively bred for
a gentler trait (and apparently practiced in South America). I presume
the same would hold true for africanized bees. Now no such selective
breeding is being practiced around where I live in West Africa (I will
start once my stock is large enough), nor from very limited exchange of
information in East Africa either - at least not for a long enough
period of time to evaluate whether successful."

IMO, the africanized bee is going to stay, at least in the southern
parts of the US. Africanized drones will ensure a steady genetic
invasion of EHB populations in those areas where aHB are found, unless
all insemination is done instrumentally.

------
You are correct, Af bees are here to stay.
------

If you think the following questions relevant to pass on, I would be
interested to read Jamie's comments.

1) would you consider it feasible to breed aHB selectively for gentle
disposition, release as many gentle drones and swarms, and generally
"tame" the FL aHB population ?

2) as you have spent time in South Africa, could you tell us whether
there has been selective breeding for less defensive strains and what
the experiences are ?


--------
1) At this point, I don't think that it is feasible to breed AHB for a
gentle disposition. Contrary to what many believe, they have been trying
it for 50+ years in S. America, with no progress. All that said, the
honey bee genome has been sequenced recently and this may help us make
some progress in this area.
2) In South Africa, they just manage the pure race. Breeding and
defensiveness are non-issues for South African beekeepers and rightly
so. We only have a 'problem' here because the bees are new and their
reputation precedes them. For many in South Africa, the 'af bee' is the
only bee they have ever known and they don't think about it the way we
do.


All good questions. Happy beekeeping.

Jamie

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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2007, 10:11:43 AM »

Go, Brendhan, go.  You are doing a great job.  Best of this fantastic day.  Cindi
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« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2007, 04:27:29 PM »

Great thread!  My question for Jamie would be if we find ourselves having to deal with a really hot hive (presumed African) in our bee yard, what are some tips he can give us based on his experience keeping Africanized colonies in S. America?  I am going to split and re-queen my hot colony (according to Michael Bush's suggestions in http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrequeeninghot.htm but in day-to-day managing some tips would help.
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« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2007, 11:30:45 PM »

BeeLady.  Go get em'!!!!!  Spread this word.  Best of the night, beautiful day.  Cindi

Brendan, I still cannot stand to look at your eyeballs!!!! C.
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« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2007, 12:45:09 PM »

Beelady:

Again, sorry for the very late reply.

I would requeen any "hot" colony with a queen from a known European
source colony. Apart from that, one should work "hot" colonies (and all
African bee colonies) very slowly and using copious amounts of smoke.
The latter is the most important. One must smoke African bee colonies
heavily. People who work with the bees in South America are able to
manage the bees because (1) they have bigger smokers, and (2) they smoke
the bees heavily. Some other tips would be to only put colonies on
single hive stands (to avoid making more than one colony mad when
working a colony), use white-faced veils (Af bees will cover a
dark-faced veil), and work the colonies slowly without much agitation
(no banging colonies around).

Hope this helps.

Jamie
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