Jonathan Powell talks to BCBKA about Free Living Bees
In this video Jonathan Powell from the Natural Beekeeping Trust speaks at the Buckinghamshire Beekeepers Spring meeting about free-living bees. He gives an excellent overview of the current situation of unmanaged bees in the UK and answers 6 key questions he is asked most commonly about free-living bees:
Do they exist?
Are they a reservoir for disease?
Are they all escaped colonies that will not last long?
Will they get honey bound if we don't take honey?
Are honey bees detrimental to other pollinators?
What value are they if they don't produce honey?
Free-Living Bees are far more common than we thought. Numerous and validated recordings from many countries have documented bees living in trees and other structures, such as old church towers for decades. He explains the advantages of a tree cavity including greater thermal insulation and inertia, allowing their bees to express many natural behaviours not seen in conventional box hives. Tree colonies do not demise from becoming honey bound and are not over-run by the Varroa mite nor affected by mould in the nest. Propolis is integral to colony health. Jonathan describes the beneficial relationships between Free-Living Bees, healthy gut bacteria and other symbionts living in tree cavities. He concludes his lecture by explaining why Free Living Bees are so important both now and for the future. A must view for anyone interested in wild honey bees.