CTPA has received an email from Dr. Rich Cowles at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, asking for assistance with his research on honeybees. Please, if you can help him locate wild bee hives, let him know:
Dear CTPA Members,
I have a favor to ask – would you please contact me when you encounter a bee tree (a tree housing a wild honeybee hive)?
I currently have a CT Dept. of Agriculture grant to work on improving the genetics of honey bees being kept in our state. One of the sources for superior genetics may be from feral bees. The thought is that these bees are maintaining their health and surviving, without needing the various treatments beekeepers have to use to maintain the bees in typical hives (protecting them from varroa mites, hive beetles, etc…). If so, they could represent particularly healthy stock that might provide good candidates for a breeding program.
The goal is hardier, managed colonies that do not have to be re-queened or replaced (due to the whole colony dying) as frequently.
There are two methods that I may use to obtain these feral populations. If a tree is not being taken down, then I may place a swarm trap nearby to intercept any swarms “thrown off” by the parent colony. If a hollow tree containing bees is being removed, I would be interested in having the colony being brought down intact, so that I may rescue the colony by hiving the bees.
This project will be active this year and through next year, too. Arborists should contact me directly when they find feral bees. My work phone number is given below. If it is extremely urgent (in the midst of tree removal and a colony is discovered!) then please call (860)683-4977 and ask for Rose. She can provide to you my cell phone number.
Richard S. Cowles, Ph.D.
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Windsor, CT 06095