Feral European Bees Western Australian Museum

The below excerpts have been extracted from the Western Australian Museum, web-link shared below.

The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is an exotic species that was introduced into the Australian environment over 180 years ago. Honey bees were used to pollinate plants grown by early settlers for food - a task that was previously done by hand. Honey bees (managed hives) are now kept commercially for food and honey production, but feral bees have also become an increasing threat to our native hollow-dwelling fauna, particularly black cockatoos, through competition for suitable hollows, and possibly also competition for nectar.

Whilst conducting field work on the black cockatoos, the WA Museum has come across large numbers of feral bee hives that have taken over tree hollows. This has meant a reduction in the number of suitable hollows left for the obligate hollow-nesting species including cockatoos and other birds e.g. small parrots, Sacred Kingfisher and mammals e.g. possums and bats. A number of black cockatoo chicks, honeyeaters and owls have been found dead in these hollows, often stung or engulfed by swarming feral bees.

http://museum.wa.gov.au/explore/online-exhibitions/cockatoo-care/feral-bees

Lähettänyt kezzza4 kezzza4, 23. heinäkuuta 2021 12:14

Kommentit

I was told (but i have never read a paper to this effect) that our African Parrots were once very diverse, but crashed after the evolution of social stinging bees a few million years ago. If anyone knows more about this, I should appreciate some information.

In the Cape, Owl boxes are readily used by Cape Honeybees as nests, even sometimes when quite exposed. But we dont have trees, and suitable nest sites for bees are really sparse. Some estimates put our hive populations as 30% derived from wild bees per annum, which may be partly due to the lack of natural nesting sites.

BUT!!
Is this a call for people to survey possible nest sites and report on iNat if they are vacant or bee filled? Would this be of any use, or have sufficient surveys already been conducted?
or is this just a post for interest?

Lähettänyt tonyrebelo 4 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)

I think there is actually interest in what the non-native bees are doing as it obviously impacts on both flora and fauna that are endemic to the region.

I know where I live in Western Australia there is a real push for the beekeeping/honey industry and I wonder if this is really a good thing or not? There's a current survey regarding our forests and the future of our forests. Is the beekeeping/honey industry friend or foe? I'd love to know.

So, yes there probably is genuine need & reason to generate interest in people recording this information. It's relevant to the endangered black cockatoos here in southwest Australia but they're not the only species impacted by these bees.

Lähettänyt kezzza4 4 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)

No doubt in the Cape the Bee Industry is foe. Despite their greenwashing.

Firstly, they encourage planting of gums, and the retention of gum plantations, and sometimes even the clearing of alien invasive gums (by declaring that they are not invasive, despite some species being seriously so).
Secondly, they compete with the local Cape Honeybees, which perhaps is not such a bad thing. Except that introduction of African Honeybees may have sullied the gene pool (that was the wisdom in the 1980s, when African hives in cardboard boxes were flown in), except that our Cape Bee workers are treated as queens in domestic and African Bee hives and take over [and the reciprocal shipping of Cape Bees to African Bee areas in South Africa is now banned as a consequence]
But most insidiously they are generalists and visit flowers utilized by our solitary bees. The Cape is one of the richest, more endemic and diverse centres of bees. However, the effects of this are unknown. Certainly dense Honeybees near hives exclude birds from some bird-pollinated species, and they must be having an effect on many bee species and populations (although unlikely to affect the oil-bee and buzz-pollinated species).
So yes, please collect information: especially around areas rich in or with endemic bees and wasps.

(I should point out that there are not enough hives during the fruit flowering season Aug-Oct, but then there is a serious shortage of places to park the hives, and then a food dearth in late summer. Although provincial and national reserves ban Honeybee hives, these are parked on the reserve boundaries to access any natural nectar flows. Cropland is barren, so most hives rely on the ever-decreasing natural areas for overwintering and oversummering the hives. Some towns and farms still have their old Gum woodlots and these are heavily utilized too.)

Lähettänyt tonyrebelo 4 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)

I'm sure there's similar going on here in Australia too as you have mentioned where you are @tonyrebelo

Lähettänyt kezzza4 4 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)

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