Threats to Honey Bees

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Wyoming specific

Yellow Jackets are a problem and recently with the arrival and population explosion of European Paper Wasps in Wyoming, we've a new honey bee predator to deal with.

Types of Honey Bees to mitigate threats

There has been extensive work to produce a variety of types of bees that are naturally resistant to diseases and parasites. Each has it's own strengths and weaknesses. Use this information to help identify what type of bee may work best for you.

Overview

This video provides an overview of what's going on, namely with the concern for 'Colony Collapse Disorder' (CCD).

Pesticides

By far and away the most serious and deleterious threat to Honey Bees world wide are pesticides, their mis-use and un-intended consequences.

Mites

A honeybee larva infested by Varroa mites

The greatest threat to beekeeping are two varieties of mites (Varroa and Tracheal). And although these mites can be kept under control by a persistent beekeeper, the negative effects on the honeybee population has been devastating. The Back Yard Beekeepers Association surveyed its membership and learned that over 40% of the membership's hives died in 1996. These mites are greatly reducing the overall honeybee population in the USA. The mites are of no concern to humans, except for the effect they can have on honey production. In the past few years, incidences and density of mite infestations in Wyoming have increased. We need to be proactive to reverse this trend.

We've a page just on various methods and tools of preventing and Controlling Varroa mites. They've made their presence known in WY, but thankfully haven't had a huge impact state wide. Who knows, though, this may be the season for 'em.

Disease

Beekeepers are on the watch for various diseases unique to honeybees, and harmless to humans. "Foul Brood" and "Nosema" are two such diseases. These problems can easily be addressed by good management and proper medication. Honeybee diseases, identification, treatment and prevention is an extensive subject and one of the primary duties of any beekeeper.

Urbanization

With more and more urban development and the growth of cities, increased weed and pest control, increased mineral extraction and other resource utilization, there is less and less forage available to bees every year.

Africanized Bees

The arrival of so-called "killer bees" in a few southern states has received sensationalized treatment in the media. In some areas of the country, this negative publicity has stimulated - often hysterical and counter productive - local restrictions and ordinances on the hobbyist beekeeper. In reality, it can be argued there are no honey bees anywhere in the world that don't have some level of africanization.

But, since beekeepers are constantly working to improve their livestock - just as any cattle, sheep or horse rancher would. Breeding for desired traits and eliminating traits deemed detrimental. It's a fairly simple process to re-queen any aggressive colony and within a few weeks, have a normal, gentile hive again. The wholesale destruction of aggressive colonies is actually counter productive as there are a few traits these types have that are desirable. Resistance to Varroa mites for one.

And, aggression is the primary difference between so called 'killer bees' and domestic honey bees. Africanized colonies are more prone to defend themselves and maintain that defense longer. This can and does to more stings. But, it's the same type of sting - no more potent than any other honey bee and stinging has the same affect on the bee itself.

One of the other traits of africanized bees is they tend to be very poor at over wintering. They don't cluster the same way our domestic bees do. It's been predicted that the lack of an effective clustering instinct would lead to the death of a strongly africanized colony during Wyoming Winters. As such, the chances of there being a 'killer bee' problem in Wyoming is slim to none. Even if it did present itself, it's fairly easy to re-queen a maintained colony, not only saving it for over-winter, but eliminating the threat of aggressive behaviors as well.