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feral bees?? decide.

1334 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  BjornBee
I posted this on another forum a while back, but here are the pics to go along with it.

How long would a swarm of bees have to be on their own to be considered feral??

I bought some empty wooden ware from a farm auction that was selling out 6 or 7 seven years ago. After digging into the brood boxes (which were stored outside in on open shed) we discoverd a swarm had set up house in one, a deep and shallow. I brought it home and sat it out. Have never been through it, fed them, or added any drugs to them. Year before last I thought they were going to die out (I really think they swarmed heavily) came back strong last year, and caught a 4 to 5 pound swarm off of them this year. They are very gentle and the queen is a terrific layer.

Now would these bees be feral (not the swarm but the original hive)? They have not had any human intervention in 6 or 7 years, same as being in the wild.

I will need to rehive these since the wood is about to rot down around them, just hate to disturb them since they seem so resiliant. Pulled the top off of them the other day and what a mess inside, the propolis is extra extra extra thick on every thing. Did not even bother going into the brood box. I just hope that they built comb in the frames, if there are any.

The fella that was keeping these bees did not use bottom boards, he would nail a piece of plywood on the bottom of the brod box and cut an entrance in the bottom edge of the brood box. You can tell they have never been inspected because of the heavy propolis. Notice on of the top bars is broken in the middle and has fallen down some, that is where ants had eaten a hole in the solid plywood top cover and eaten into the top bar. And yes burr comb honey is the best.

[attachment=5:bjh9a2su]georges pics 025.jpg[/attachment:bjh9a2su]

[attachment=4:bjh9a2su]georges pics 026.jpg[/attachment:bjh9a2su]

[attachment=3:bjh9a2su]georges pics 027.jpg[/attachment:bjh9a2su]

[attachment=2:bjh9a2su]georges pics 028.jpg[/attachment:bjh9a2su]
the brown streaks down the front of the hive is propolis

[attachment=1:bjh9a2su]georges pics 029.jpg[/attachment:bjh9a2su]

[attachment=0:bjh9a2su]georges pics 031.jpg[/attachment:bjh9a2su]



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No they are not feral.

Of course, one must understand what feral is to understand my rationale.
Among other things.....

Feral bees make their own comb. And that comb is far different than the straight lined comb we provide the bees by using frames. There are synergies at work that ferals build into comb in an open colony.

Feral bees make comb without the use of a comb pattern, as compared to the pattern we provide by foundation.

Feral bees select their home based on environmental items, like nectar sources, water, sun/shade, and other factors. Beekeepers force them into places they may not of selected.

Many chemicals have half life periods that make continual effects of chemicals a reality for many years after the stoppage of application. Are they still on that old comb? I'm not saying it is a problem, as they seem able to deal with any residue. I'm just suggesting that old comb is old comb and tainted comb is always tainted comb.

One of the problems is that people use terms such as wild, feral, survivors, unmanaged, and a host of other things. Many times, the idea of bees living in a shed with other managed hives in the area, as well as you taking them and placing them where you want them (with other colonies) destroys any notion that they have had "No human intervention". They may not be treated, they may not be "managed". But they have been infuenced by your human hands in many ways. It is hardly the same as a wild feral colony in the wild.

Do you have bees worth testing and selecting for breeding. Absolutely. They show many good qualities and can survive.

But they are not feral. And taking a colony to the location of your choiosing, keeping them in a beehive, in frames, on foundation pattern.....will never in my definition allow the use of "feral".
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Let me think on that one. It's like a loaded question. Everything I think of has consequences. :?
Not feral.

Yes, you could suggest that due to changing their environment, and one that they have not selected, would be enough to change that.

But it goes deeper than that. In their own environment, they selected due to sun/shade issues, forage availability, and other factors.

But did you also just expose them to drift and contact with other hives? Mite pressure alone could make all the difference in just the transfer of forage bees and drifting of drones on increased levels by close quarters to other bees. In the wild, a quarter mile or more may be the distance between hives. Disease transfer (bacterial and viral), mite transfer, and other factors detrimental to the hive, is completely changed and influenced by you the beekeeper. Just because you did not open the branch up does not mean you did not influence colony health. (I should point out that I'm not saying you did anything wrong. I'm just explaining the definition of feral and the possible impacts of our actions)

Feral bees are unmanaged. They selected their home by instinct, and built in survival skills. Studies clearly show they travel a distance from the original colony when swarming, select new cavities based on sun/shade, predator protection, and other factors. Once you moved them, all that changes, whether you opened them up or not. You may not of managed them as a traditional hive, but you did (or continue to) manage them on some level.
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