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European Honeybees and native species - the scientificperspective

  • Subject: [cg] European Honeybees and native species - the scientificperspective
  • From: William Hohauser williamhohauser@earthlink.net
  • Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 20:34:19 -0400

As I promised, here are some bit of info regarding the honeybee vs native bee situation.

Our garden's resident scientist had this to say, "According to Jerry Rosen, the bee curator at AMNH (American Museum of Natural History), in the bee world honey bees are known as 'pollen hogs.' In general, social animals have an edge that enables them to build up large population densities relative to non-social animals, so they require a bigger slice of the pie... and their 'strength in numbers' enables them to successfully defend their outsized slice. I personally don't much care for the social bullies, and feel that the sampling we get in community gardens is sufficient (honeybees ARE good milkweed pollinators...).

One advantage to keeping honeybees in a community garden is that bigger bullies can then remove the honey... The second advantage is educational potential, which is substantial. Although you also end up with increased risk of stings."

And here is a very academic list of papers about the subject. A summary of the summaries reveals this; 1) Studies have not yet conclusively proved that honeybees out-compete native bees but there is evidence that competition occurs and in one study honeybees do negatively effect native bees. 2) This topic is of great interest to Australians.

William Hohauser
Sixth Street and Avenue B Garden
New York City

Notes: Honey bee competition

FN ISI Export Format
VR 1.0
AU Paini, DR
TI Impact of the introduced honey bee (Apis mellifera) (Hymenoptera :
Apidae) on native bees: A review
AB Interspecific competition for a limited resource can result in the
reduction of survival, growth and/or reproduction in one of the species
involved. The introduced honey bee (Apis mellifera Linnaeus) is an
example of a species that can compete with native bees for floral
resources. Often, research into honey bee/native bee competition has
focused on floral resource overlap, visitation rates or resource
harvesting, and any negative interaction has been interpreted as a
negative impact. Although this research can be valuable in indicating
the potential for competition between honey bees and native bees, to
determine if the long-term survival of a native bee species is
threatened, fecundity, survival or population density needs to be
assessed. The present review evaluates research that has investigated
all these measurements of honey bee/native bee competition and finds
that many studies have problems with sample size, confounding factors
or data interpretation. Guidelines for future research include
increasing replication and using long-term studies to investigate the
impact of both commercial and feral honey bees.
PY 2004
VL 29
IS 4
BP 399
EP 407
UT ISI:000223057500005

AU Goulson, D
TI Effects of introduced bees on native ecosystems
AB Bees are generally regarded as beneficial insects for their role in
pollination, and in the case of the honeybee Apis mellifera, for
production of honey. As a result several bee species have been
introduced to countries far beyond their home range, including A.
mellifera, bumblebees (Bombus sp.), the alfalfa leafcutter bee
Megachile rotundata, and various other solitary species. Possible
negative consequences of these introductions include: competition with
native pollinators for floral resources; competition for nest sites;
co-introduction of natural enemies, particularly pathogens that may
infect native organisms; pollination of exotic weeds; and disruption of
pollination of native plants. For most exotic bee species little or
nothing is known of these possible effects. Research to date has
focused mainly on A. mellifera, and has largely been concerned with
detecting competition with native flower visitors. Considerable
circumstantial evidence has accrued that competition does occur, but no
experiment has clearly demonstrated long-term reductions in populations
of native organisms. Most researchers agree that this probably reflects
the difficulty of carrying out convincing studies of competition
between such mobile organisms, rather than a genuine absence of
competitive effects. Effects on seed set of exotic weeds are easier to
demonstrate. Exotic bees often exhibit marked preferences for visiting
flowers of exotic plants. For example, in Australia and New Zealand
many weeds from Europe are now visited by European honeybees and
bumblebees. Introduced bees are primary pollinators of a number of
serious weeds. Negative impacts of exotic bees need to be carefully
assessed before further introductions are carried out.
PY 2003
VL 34
BP 1
EP 26
UT ISI:000220102000001

AU Thomson, D
TI Competitive interactions between the invasive European honey bee and
native bumble bees
AB Biological invasions represent both an increasingly important applied
problem and a tool for gaining insight into the structure of ecological
communities. Although competitive interactions between invasive and
native species are considered among the most important mechanisms
driving invasion dynamics, such interactions are in general poorly
understood. The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is a widespread and
economically important invader long suspected to competitively suppress
many native bee species. Yet the extent to which this introduced
species alters native communities remains controversial, reflecting
ongoing debate over the importance of resource competition in
regulating pollinator populations. I experimentally tested the effects
of competition with Apis on colony foraging behavior and reproductive
success of a native eusocial bee, Bombus occidentalis Greene, in
coastal California. B. occidentalis colonies located near
experimentally introduced Apis hives had lower mean rates of forager
return and a lower ratio of foraging trips for pollen relative to
nectar. Both male and female reproductive success of B. occidentalis
were also reduced with greater proximity to introduced Apis hives.
Reproductive success correlated significantly with measures of colony
foraging behavior, most strongly with the relative allocation of
foraging effort to pollen collection. This pattern suggests that B.
occidentalis colonies exposed to competition with Apis experienced
increased nectar scarcity and responded by reallocating foragers from
pollen to nectar collection, resulting in lowered rates of larval
production. These results provide evidence that Apis competitively
suppresses a native social bee known to be an important pollinator,
with the potential for cascading effects on native plant communities.
This work also contributes to a greater understanding of the role
competitive interactions play in pollinator communities, particularly
for social bees.
PY 2004
VL 85
IS 2
BP 458
EP 470
UT ISI:000220108700016

AU Roubik, DW
Wolda, H
TI Do competing honey bees matter? Dynamics and abundance of native bees
before and after honey bee invasion
AB To provide replicate samples of local bee populations in a nature
preserve, Light traps operated continuously on Barro Colorado Island
(BCI), Panama, collected bees for 17 years, including 10 years
following invasion by African Apis mellifera. Honey bees appeared in
light traps as the first swarms colonized the Panama Canal area. Their
numbers followed seasonal trends shown in independent studies, thus
indicating bee abundance and activity in a large area. No measurable
population-level impact of competition between this invading honey bee
and native bees, despite many demonstrations of resource competition at
flower patch and colony levels, changed annual abundances of all 15
native bee species. Native bee abundance did not decrease, nor did
native bees show substantial reciprocal yearly change with honey bee
abundance. One strong negative correlation of bee catches with an
extremely rainy year was found. However, multiple regression using
rainfall and honey bee abundance as the independent variables showed
that neither was responsible for bee population change over 17 years.
Nearly half the native species declined during a year that displayed
peak honey bee number. That competition from honey bees on an island
the size of BCI was necessarily reduced below impact levels expected on
the mainland is discussed using a model of resource and consumer
density, foraging range, and island size.
PY 2001
VL 43
IS 1
BP 53
EP 62
UT ISI:000169145300008

AU Kearns, CA
Inouye, DW
Waser, NM
TI Endangered mutualisms: The conservation of plant-pollinator interactions
AB The pollination of flowering plants by animals represents a critical
ecosystem service of great value to humanity, both monetary and
otherwise. However, the need for active conservation of pollination
interactions is only now being appreciated. Pollination systems are
under increasing threat from anthropogenic sources, including
fragmentation of habitat, changes in land use, modern agricultural
practices, use of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, and
invasions of non-native plants and animals. Honeybees, which themselves
are non-native pollinators on most continents, and which may harm
native bees and other pollinators, are nonetheless critically important
for crop pollination. Recent declines in honeybee numbers in the United
States and Europe bring home the importance of healthy pollination
systems, and the need to further develop native bees and other animals
as crop pollinators. The "pollination crisis" that is evident in
declines of honeybees and native bees, and in damage to webs of
plant-pollinator interaction, may be ameliorated not only by
cultivation of a diversity of crop pollinators, but also by changes in
habitat use and agricultural practices, species reintroductions and
removals, and other means. In addition, ecologists must redouble
efforts to study basic aspects of plant-pollinator interactions if
optimal management decisions are to be made for conservation of these
interactions in natural acid agricultural ecosystems.
PY 1998
VL 29
BP 83
EP 112
UT ISI:000077648200004

AU Oldroyd, BP
TI Controlling feral honey bee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera : Apidae),
populations in Australia: Methodologies and costs
AB The level of impact of feral honey bees on the Australian ecosystems is
controversial but may include competition with native fauna for floral
resources or nesting sites, inadequate pollination of native flora or
undesirable pollination of exotic flora. The precautionary principle
suggests that control of feral bees in areas of high conservation value
would be desirable. This raises the question of the feasibility and
cost of controlling or eradicating feral bees in conserved areas.
Possible methods for controlling feral bees in Australia are reviewed.
It is concluded that eradication is not feasible on a broad scale, but
would be in small areas that are heavily used by the public.
PY 1998
VL 37
PN Part 2
BP 97
EP 100
UT ISI:000074980500001

AU Huryn, VMB
TI Ecological impacts of introduced honey bees
AB Honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), native to Eurasia and Africa, have been
introduced to most of the rest of the world. Many plant species are
used by introduced honey bees, which suggests a high potential for
disturbance of native plant/pollinator relationships. Few species are
used intensively, however, thus decreasing the opportunity for
disturbance. Pollination studies show that honey bees are effective
pollinators of some native plants and less effective pollinators of
others; they also reduce floral resources in some species with little
or no pollination. Data are insufficient to show whether honey bee
foraging on native plants significantly alters pollen and gene flow,
but unusual foraging behavior by honey bees is not evident compared to
many other pollinators. Honey bees do not physically damage plants;
they are also unlikely to increase hybridization of native flora.
Pollination by honey bees probably contributes little to the success of
most weeds.
Experiments have not shown competition for nesting sites between honey
bees and native fauna. The presence of honey bees, however, alters the
foraging behavior and abundance of some native fauna on flowers, but
not studies have shown detrimental impacts of honey bees on population
abundance of any native animals or plants. Anecdotal and quantitative
reports of increased honey bee abundances on flowers compared with
native fauna are often confounded with habitat changes induced by men.
PY 1997
VL 72
IS 3
BP 275
EP 297
UT ISI:A1997XT77700002

AU Sugden, EA
Thorp, RW
Buchmann, SL
TI Honey bee native bee competition: Focal point for environmental change
and apicultural response in Australia
AB Do honey bees compete for food with other bee species in nature? This
question has been the focus of considerable scientific and political
attention in recent years, especially, but not exclusively in
Australia. In this article we provide the background and rationale of
the argument and present scientific studies which have attempted to
provide evidence. We also suggest some approaches to dealing with real
issues related to honey bee competition, bee conservation, and honey
bee management.
PY 1996
VL 77
IS 1
BP 26
EP 44
UT ISI:A1996UD19600004


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