combs hanging from tree

Fallbrook, CA(Zone 10b)

Maybe someone here will have some info for me.....Yesterday I was out planting in the *wilds*of my garden, scanning around and saw something unusual that caught my eye. Looked like large overlapping morels/mushrooms hanging from a large avocado tree branch, very interesting. A short while later I was closer and looked up to see that it was 7-8 honeycombs hanging there. They've been abandoned and something has been eating the wax (possums, rats, coyotes?) I've never seen anything like this, wouldn't this normally be covered by something such as the papery wasp/hornet hives? Always thought you'd find this in a tree hollow or something similar. Is it normal to abandon it? Did they die? Threatened? I've recently heard that the bees here are being endangered by a parasite, could thid be the problem? Thanks for any info.

Glen Rock, PA

African honeybees are notorious for making naked combs. Maybe it was an Africanized hive that was eliminated, or maybe they absconded. A million reasons for a hive to die. If you ever see a naked comb in your area with bees on it, assume they are Africanized. The 5-banded Italians (the most commonly kept honeybee) almost never make combs outside of hollows. Once in a long while they may swarm where the scouts haven't found a home yet and they start making comb in the open. It doesn't usually progress very far though, and the amount of comb is almost always only a few cells deep.

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)

I didn't know that about the African bees. I hope they never get this far north, unless they get tamed down by cross breeding. If the mites kill off the other bees, we might need them.

Nichols, IA(Zone 5a)

I just saw a comb of the African bees on TV last night. There is no mistaking that! It was impressive!

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

African bees have been in North America for over a century. My entomology professor in college at U Nevada/Reno said he was part of a project to crossbreed the African bees with the domestic honey bees during the 1920s. He was a grad student at U Miss in Oxford at the time. They were trying to improve the heat hardiness of the honeybees in the south. We hived a swarm from a neighborhood tree one day and my professor got stung twice. It is unusual for the swarm to sting since they need all hands on deck to help the queen. We already had 12 hives at the college farm, so this new swarm became hive #13. LOL! It was easy to see the difference between this African/Europe honey bee blend and the 'purebred' German and Italian bees in the other hives. Hive 13 had smaller, more active bees. The hum from that hive had a higher, more frenzied pitch to it. I needed a lot more smoke, more frequently to work that hive. If you bumped or jostled hives 1 - 12, a few guard bees would come out to investigate. If you bumped hive 13, a flood of bees came out to see what was going on. Needless to say, I worked hive 13 last, after all the others were done. If any raiding was going to take place, hive 13 would be the culprit. They did do a good job filling up the combs with honey.

Fallbrook, CA(Zone 10b)

I'm sorry I missed that on tv. I'd like to have seen if it looked like mine does. I guess i should check online to see what pics I can find.

Glen Rock, PA

gardenmermaid, on the basis of 2 stings and smaller bees you absolutely cannot claim to have African bees. I've worked hives that were as mean as Africans/Africanized but they were really just mean Italians. One hive was so nasty I couldn't get within 100 ft of it without a vail. I used to joke that I was anxious for the Africanized bees to make their way to Penn. so that I could get that one hive pacified.

There are about 24 races of bees (subspecies of Apis mellifera) and without a DNA test it is almost impossible to distinguish them. Yes, a few are easy, Carniolans are very dark, some have paler stripes, etc. But for the most part, all are within a range of sizes that overlaps for all 24 races. I've seen Africanized bees (in a bottle), and can state that it is highly improbable that even an expert can reliably tell you what you have on sight alone. Old wives tales will never substitute for science, and lord only knows, lots of mis-information going on out there. If there is credible evidence for importation of African bees into this country before the 1950's, it should be brought forth and examined.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Penn_Pete, it was my professor who said that that swarm appeared to have more African genes in them.
He was part of the pilot breeding project in Mississippi and I'm not going to call him a liar.
There was a definite visual and behavioural difference between those bees and the purebreds in the other hives.

There is a lot of misinformation out there, much of it put forth by "scientists".
"Science is made up of rules contrived by 'men' to prove the legitimacy of a predetermined agenda."
Dr. Arden Andersen

History often proves "science experts" to be wrong.

This message was edited Dec 28, 2006 10:02 PM

Glen Rock, PA

Hi garden-mermaid. I think your professor was wrong for several reasons. One is that finding a wild swarm of no provenance and calling them African or Africanized is a stretch. Even now only a genetic test will decide if a particular swarm is Africanized, and as you well know, there were no such tests before the 80's. Just because they are mean doesn't make them African. Also, the very first bees with sub-Saharan genes in them that were brought over was in the mid-50's in Brazil. (Bees from Egypt were used in some places, and they can be considered African, that's why I ask about sub-Saharan bees.) Had the crew in MS been fooling with them 30 years before, did they publish nothing about their experiments? Why didn't somebody uncover the information when the U.S was spending millions in the 80's to flood Central America with European drones? They would already known that that was futility.

If those Africans were so different, why are the Arficanized bees now inhabiting the US so similar to the bees we keep? How come experienced beekeepers can't reliably tell them apart on sight? So far as the slap at scientific procedure, I'll wager that science has put to bed a lot more old wife's tales than the other way around. The professor may have genuinely thought he had Africanized bees, but nothing was published, no results worth noting apparently. Vouching for an uncorroborated professor's tale is only worth the paper it is printed on. Lacking any more proof than "because he said so" seems to me a whole lot shakier than science with reproducible results.

What we call African bees are not another species of bees, but only a subspecies of the Apis melifera. There are not enough differences between them to warrant naming them a new species, and the range of sizes for 5-banded Italians overlaps completely the range for the sub-Saharan honeybees. Again, if there is anything out there about the experiments, lots of people would like to read the results.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

"Had the crew in MS been fooling with them 30 years before, did they publish nothing about their experiments? "

The results of successful or beneficial studies get published. Unsuccessful or problematic ones often don't get published and can be altered or eliminated to prevent embarassment or liability to the institution.

"I'll wager that science has put to bed a lot more old wife's tales than the other way around. "
You would lose your bet.

The best scientists have an open mind and are willing to accept that they may not have had all the 'facts' or evidence at hand when first creating their hypotheses or paradigms. Science fundamentalists have closed minds and are quick to call anything that doesn't meet their view of the world and "old wives tale".

I spent a number of years working for a genetic testing firm, working with both expression (RNA) and genotyping (DNA). There are a lot more hybrid genes in the world than would be politically correct to acknowledge.

At this point I think it best that we agree to disagree.

Glen Rock, PA

"I'll wager that science has put to bed a lot more old wife's tales than the other way around. "
You would lose your bet.
Give me a break. Some of the common ones in the plant world, a few.

Water on the leaves will magnify the sun and burn the plant.
Plants from the southern hemisphere are confused when brought to the northern one.
Pinching the leaves on tomatoes will give you more fruit.
Cactus absorb rays from electronics.
Exploding cactus releases spiders (or crickets or cockroaches, I read all 3).
You have to keep Schlumbergeras completely dark for them to flower.
And a recent one, you have to water your lawn for hours and soak the ground a foot, it's better than short more frequent waterings. (Grass roots are only in the top few cms, water below that is mostly wasted.)

Now, I suppose you have a similar list of tales that were proven right in the face of scientific proof?

So quick to label. Now I am a scientific fundamentalist? You still have not a shred of evidence that the bees were anything but a wild European swarm. And yes, all experimental data gets published, not only the favorable stuff. Even drug companies publish reports (albeit sometimes edited) that contradict their postulates. A university that studies something as fundamental to agriculture as beekeeping publishes. The results are of great interest to farmers everywhere and the research money came from somebody who has an interest. To not publish anything on something as crucial as bee hybridization defies belief. The reports from Costa Rica are accessible. Ditto on the studies from Mexico. I guess 'Ole Miss' spent money, time and prestige and threw their collective hands up and said forget it?

"There are a lot more hybrid genes in the world than would be politically correct to acknowledge." I don't think beekeeping is in the realm of p.c. yet. If you read about how they have been tracking African bees, you would know that all the evidence is published. Scientists have been surprised many times, been shown to be barking up the wrong tree many times. If embarrassing facts were kept out of the argument, how would we know this? People who cling to hearsay without any evidence are something. Not sure what the word is, but they are something.

I too am not revisiting this thread unless you can show some proof of your statement "African bees have been in North America for over a century." And little green men have been held captive at Roswell, NM for almost 1/2 that time. And Nixon wasn't a crook and Clinton did not have s*x with that woman Lewinsky. BTW, I only have until 1/8/07. My subscription to this site runs out then and I won't be back.


This message was edited Dec 29, 2006 9:01 PM
2nd edit to separate link.

This message was edited Dec 29, 2006 9:02 PM

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