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Ecologists Worry About Rooftop Honey Bee Programs


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Waddaya know, a backcountry bloke approving of something DoC's done ! 

The worrying thing is just that this is an extremely difficult question to answer. While I worry, I know that, especially in New Zealand, we know very little about the possible plant-pollinator networ

Credit where credits due.. the winter trip right down the west coast was an eye opener, track gravel dropped in by heli all plate compacted with proper culverts or footbridges at all the drains.. I do

This is not new news. 

 

Honeybees when introduced to countries they were not native to, take the food of other pollinators. That's just a fact.

 

However, beekeeping is just another form of farming. All the farm animals we have introduced displace native species. Take a look at the average NZ farm, covered in introduced grasses, then imagine what that land would have looked like before people arrived.

 

I'm not justifying anything, in fact it's sad. Just saying, beekeepers do not have this on our own, and in fact only a miniscule proportion of the environmental damage done to NZ's native fauna, is done by honeybees.

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Honeybees undoubtedly have an effect on the local invertebrate population although I think you'll find that wasps have a far greater effect probably by a factor of 1000. It does however worry me that hundreds and in some cases thousands of hives are placed in or near to native forest where they must have an effect on our native honey eaters. I don't think this was too much of a problem in the past but with the vast number of hives out there it's got to be having some effect on the birds.

As far as native bees go I can't speak for every species but I know plenty of areas where there are hundreds of native bees for every  individual Honeybee and at least some of our native species can and do outcompete honeybees when it comes to collecting nectar especially from manuka and kanuka.

In an urban situation there is very little natural forage and native bees are pretty scarce at least round here. Honeybees only real competition in urban areas is hundreds of other honeybees.

When I was in Norway last time I did see the odd Honeybee  but there were also an amazing variety of other native bees and bumblebees which far outnumber the honeybees. I did see an apiary on a small island in a small lake in the garden of the royal palace in Oslo

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7 hours ago, Sailabee said:

To me, the total number of hives in the US (not counting those with under 5) being just under 3 million tends to confirm my belief that we simply have too many in NZ at present.

But there could be over that number again of hives that fit the under 5 category.  

Don't get me wrong we have too many hives in NZ for the amount of land.

 

Interesting reads @Grant

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4 hours ago, john berry said:

It does however worry me that hundreds and in some cases thousands of hives are placed in or near to native forest where they must have an effect on our native honey eaters. I

Makes you wonder if DOC have their priorities correct in allowing beehive concessions on conservation land.

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Maybe they think they think beeks might get into a bit of wasp control while they're there..It's not a case of priorities, DOC are bound by law to allow a concession unless there's a compelling case against a particular one.

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12 hours ago, Mummzie said:

Makes you wonder if DOC have their priorities correct in allowing beehive concessions on conservation land.

18 months ago I attended a talk from DOC managers whom are  based in Hamilton and who allocate the beekeeping concessions.  Some of the major deliberations with beekeeping allocation include consideration of negative environmental impact.

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The worrying thing is just that this is an extremely difficult question to answer. While I worry, I know that, especially in New Zealand, we know very little about the possible plant-pollinator networks here, and next to nothing about how pollinators are partitioned within the landscape over time. At the moment my reading of the few studies 'worrying' about the local situation is that they point to a possibility, nothing more, and the ones about the situation elsewhere irrelevant.

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16 minutes ago, Dave Black said:

how pollinators are partitioned within the landscape over time.

Dave do you really believe that any of us understand what this means, or is it a wind up to see who goes WTH first ?

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DOC charge a fair whack for the site concessions even if you don’t use them for whatever reason.. you still pay, then if you have used them there’s a clip of the honey cheque on top of the fee.. found that out the hard way.. there’s still plenty of native bush around here out of reach of honeybees, very nice to have had DOC undertake wasp poisoning in some local forests and man what a huge difference it’s made. Fantastic. 

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There was a young researcher who spoke at an NZBI day in Hamilton who was using a comparison between honey bee hive density and native bees and pollinators as a study topic. According to her there was very little difference in the native numbers in each area, but her work was ongoing, and that was a couple of years ago.

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2 hours ago, yesbut said:

Waddaya know, a backcountry bloke approving of something DoC's done ! 

Credit where credits due.. the winter trip right down the west coast was an eye opener, track gravel dropped in by heli all plate compacted with proper culverts or footbridges at all the drains.. I do prefer a more natural trail to wander along but these were really world class. the Blue Pools track near Makarora with the new carpark and toilets springs to mind.. apparently local guides unemployed via Covid were taken on for a lot of the work.
Big bucks well spent. 

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I don't think roof top bees are very common in NZ. Looking at the 2019 Apiculture report there are roughly 918,000 hives in NZ and of these there are about 68,272 hobbyists based on median figures for beekeepers with less than 6 hives and less that 51 hives added together. In that case the total of hobbyists is roughly 7.4% of NZ hives. I'd suggest that the removal of 7.4% of hives would not make any difference. Also that those 7.4% are in areas with all kinds of flowering plants all year around i.e. mostly not native bush. Given the massive increases in hive numbers, of many hundreds of thousands of hives over the years it is clearly not hobbyists if there are still less than one hundred thousand of them in total? To put it another way, 93% of all hives in NZ are commercial.

 

So I don't really follow/see their logic why they are worried about roof top hives when it appears to be inconsequential.

Maybe it just represents low-hanging-fruit which is a rather sad reflection on these esteemed ecologists and news media.

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