Why releasing Mason Bees on your property is a bad idea

In the last few weeks, I have been asked by three people questions about buying and releasing Mason Bees onto their property, so I thought I would sit down and write-up why I think that is a bad idea. All of the sources listed are free, so anyone interested can read further.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QqgZJmAfpnqb28wHjd8XR5yXtiWu0QM_kCX3fRfyJ84/edit?usp=sharing

Publicado el lunes, 18 de abril de 2022 a las 02:24 AM por neylon neylon

Comentarios

Thank you for taking the time to share your expertise and references on this topic.

Anotado por willbeedee hace 11 meses

This post is interesting, although I'm not aware that the release of O. cornifrons and M. rotundata would be expected to have a very detrimental effect on native species, at least not much beyond the effect already-wild populations already have had. I also think A. mellifera is much more "harmful" although is more widely used, and think it has some qualified uses. I'd also point out that many people who release those mason and leafcutter bees, and also some companies selling them, are doing so in contexts like plant pollination, research, education, etc. And that research can in theory be for general bee conservation (as can research using Apis mellifera). I think it's worth pointing out what species are native vs. non-native and what negative effects they could have (especially for buyers who only want to emphasize native species, although doing so isn't always required), but also that there are qualified uses for releasing mason and leafcutter bees, and to use bee hotels (which are often used together when buying bee cocoons).

Another thing to keep in mind is there are often trade-offs between human benefits and wildlife conservation in matters like this, such as in using apiaries, but it wouldn't be considered feasible for example to avoid or set strict limits on how many Apis colonies individuals or companies can use. Although on that, I have heard of recommendations which may also be enforced in some areas that set a maximum number of honeybee colonies per unit of land that encompasses an entire town, city, or county. What that also shows is that recommendations or requirements for the use of apiaries, along with released mason or leafcutter bees in principle, can also be done via general policies which don't entirely recommend against or ban the practices. So overall, I think there are pros and cons to know about and consider for releasing bees, but that there are qualified uses and it may not be very (newly) harmful.

You could consider raising the question as a discussion topic in the bee_monitoring email listserv. But if rephrasing your view there, be aware that a representative from the company Crown Bees is a member and will probably be one of the people who reply. I've bought a bee hotel from Crown Bees and do think their products like the bee hotels are well-designed and based on research and conservation. I find the idea of raising cocoons interesting for research or education purposes and considered buying them from Crown Bees, although haven't so far. When I first read about cocoons, I also realized cornifrons and rotundata are pretty much the only species sold. It would be interesting if native megachilid species could also be used. Although among megachilids, the males of Anthidium manicatum and oblongatum (which are non-native in the US) guard floral resources and can kill other bees, so Anthidium in particular probably shouldn't ever be released. Lastly, you are also right that at least some gardeners buying corniforns or rotundata cocoons don't realize that they aren't native, which having more public information or education on this topic may help inform.

Anotado por bdagley hace 10 meses

I do appreciate you taking the time to read it and give counterpoints. But if I may respond to your points:

While I do agree that Apis are much more detrimental to native bee health than releasing a few Osmia would ever be, but there is already quite a few people who have written much on the conservation effects of Apis, this is specifically covering a different problem which is largely not discussed as it is a much smaller issue.

First, to make a semantic correction: I'm not raising a question, I'm making a statement; the harmful effects of these added species are established with added disease, resource and mating competion. This is more than whether it is aggressive or not (which it is not).

However I would recommend reading some of the papers that I refer to in the article. One discusses the decline of 6 species of native Osmia after the introduction of O cornifrons and taurus (taurus is often an accidental addition due to its similarity to cornifrons). Another discusses the movement of harmful fungi to North America due to movement of cornifrons. Also note the other papers that discuss general disease from non-native insects (ie Apis, B impatiens).

Also as noted that even when trying to order native species (ie Osmia lignaria), many sellers (from what I've heard including CrownBees) do not differentiate between the eastern Subspecies (O lignaria lignaria) and the western Subspecies (O lignaria propinqua), so now you not only have the problems of higher risk of disease from domestically raised insects, and artificially added resource competition, but you would also be adding mating competition into the mix. Which could potentially further reduce the local population.

As to bee hotels, at the moment I'm not against there use. I have heard of several native wild species that have been recorded using them. However, Lecroy (the author of the paper on declining native Osmia) in an interview discussing a paper I have not been able to get ahold of so didn't get into it in my article, mentioned two concerning issues. One, non-native species use those to a much higher degree than native species, meaning that bee hotels may just be assisting in the spread of non-natives. Two, insects that parasitize bee nests were recorded preferring native to non-native nests in hotels, so hotels could be creating a habitat sink. I do have questions though, like is the non-native use because hotels are always set up in urban environments where non-native species thrive anyway? And are the parasites just preferentially choosing the species that they are naturally associated with? So I'm not against them yet, but these questions are concerning. But considering the benefit that many species of birds have had from manmade nest boxes, I'm hesitant to write-off bee boxes too quickly.

On who is buying them. Many places that sell these sell them under the banner of "save the bees" and are being purchased by well meaning people who want to release them in their yards, to those people I strongly encourage them not to. As to the pollination services, yes, at this time non-native species are just about indispensable to crop pollination. But these should be thought of as crutches that we are trying to get off of, not something that we double down on and bring in more. See the paper I referenced on native wild bees for watermelon pollination.

As to Conservation/research/education. I don't see the point of non-natives from a conservation perspective. Research doesn't seem plausible as the behaviors of Apis and the non-native Osmia are quite different from the native species. And I'd much rather educate people about native species rather than two non-natives.

A big one to remember is that humans have been moving species around for centuries, and every time there are detrimental effects. I think we finally hit the point where our government got it through their thick skulls that adding multiflora rose, honeysuckle, Non-native Osmia and Anthophora, ect were all a really bad idea. But even now in my area there is someone releasing European Goldfinches and up north someone released a population of Great Tits (yes that is its name, I'll pause while you finish laughing). So I would rather foment a general feeling of distrust and apprehension from people when considering releasing things that shouldn't be here. People look at one small benefit and don't consider the consequences. I could get into a few potential consequences of the afore-mentioned birds being added, but this is getting long.

Personally, I have a knee-jerk to the government getting involved in anything, and bile comes to my mouth hearing the word "regulation", but the thought that reducing the amount hives inundating the landscape and potentially later reducing sold insects in general would make me very happy.

Anotado por neylon hace 10 meses

It occurs to me that explaining the problems with those two birds adds to my points.

To start with, the problem with adding Great Tits (hahaha) are obvious: in their home range (Europe) they have a well recorded history of eating Bombus queens in the early spring. Oh good, let's take one of the focal areas for Bombus affinis and add a predator that would target their gynes.

For European Goldfinch it's much more subtle. Would they displace American Goldfinches? No, they nest at different times of the year. Compete for resources? Largely not, in fact the first time they tried to introduce European Goldfinches failed largely because a preferred food of theirs, Teasel wasn't here. It is now, which comes to the first problem. Teasel is enormously invasive and impossible to get rid of, on two occasions I've informed land managers of a small stand of Teasel that I found and had them out with herbicide to deal with it immediately. Euro Goldfinches eat and spread it.

But the 2nd problem is also interesting and I have to give some history of a different bird to explain it. Prior to the 1940's, there were no House Finches east of about the Rocky Mountains. They were sold in pet stores as "Hollywood Finches" after laws were passed to protect native birds were passed it became illegal to sell those birds so stores like Macy's just released them. Somehow these released pets managed to find food, survive winter, breed, and expand. They hit my area (northern IL) in the mid-70's (side note we had a guy who kept extensive bird lists here in the mid 70's named William Sheppard, he documented the arrival of the House Finch and a major winter finch irruption), and currently cover the united states coast to coast. Unfortunately, these release birds are prone to "red-eye disease" which was a big problem up until recently. While it is still a problem, from what I have seen it doesn't appear to be quite the level it used to be. This wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, Evening Grosbeak, Pine Grosbeak have all been documented with that from contact with House Finches and in 2012 the first record of red-eye disease west of the Rockies was recorded.

If another introduced finch is allowed to thrive, that would potentially be another source of diseases for the native species of finches to deal with.

Anotado por neylon hace 10 meses

I read all the articles now, and had read some of them earlier. I made the distinction that I'm not referring to introductions or to situations where people buying bees would be causing them. Introductions are well known to have potentially large detrimental effects. What I said is the current practice of releasing M. rotundata and O. cornifrons may not be doing significant harm beyond the harm already caused in their original introductions. I'm also not referring to biocontrol releases. I only have some knowledge of the prevalence or all of the reasons people release these megachilids, although am mostly familiar with what I read on the Crown Bees website. They only sell rotundata and cornifrons, and I'd like to only focus on those species and on the policy of that company. Because they try to incorporate research and conservation into their products and educate customers, so aren't an example of bee washing.

First, looking through some of the articles you linked to (or ones they cited), I see it mentioned that these megachilids are easiest to raise and to use for research, which was implied to have applications beyond those species, as I said. There are also some native megachilids in the US (which I don't think are released), so the distance between them and ones usually used isn't that far. Essentially, these species (and maybe a couple others) are the main or only options currently for releasing bees, at least for customers who don't have previous experience with releasing bees. I also agree that one of the largest possible problems can be pathogen spread. Although, many of these problems also affect Apis mellifera even more, yet it continues to be managed at a much more massive scale and also is among the most competitive and resource depleting species to native bees. The research on pathogens associated with Osmia also seems only partially understood so far, at least in assessing the overall detrimental likelihood caused from current releases alone (not considering the original introduction or practices that would case introductions). I'm also not defending all companies, in case some have less conservation-considering practices. So if any company is known to be causing introductions, I'd at least agree that they should restrict where they ship bees to in order to prevent introductions.

Looking briefly through some of the Crown Bee pages now, they address most of these issues. They talk about practices they use to reduce pathogens in their bees, and educate customers how to harvest cocoons and clean bee hotels in ways that also reduce or prevent pathogens. They also say as I implied that M. rotundata is already established across the country, making the practice of releasing it unlike an introduction (I didn't finish reading about what the situation would be for O. cornifrons, but expect it to be relatively similar). But, this isn't to say that the practice of releasing bees is perfect or could have no downsides. I just think it's more complicated than a suggestion for everyone to refrain from doing entirely it would suggest. I also mentioned there are trade offs, where people also value some of the human benefits (education, research, pollination, etc.). So, I think there are qualified uses.

I do also agree that the research on possible detrimental effects is very important to continue monitoring. And that if a massive detrimental effect at the level of populations were to be expected from people releasing megachilids in the way we're talking about, then at that point the practice may be best to recommend further reducing. It just doesn't seem realistic to expect people would stop the practice entirely. You're also fine to take the view that no one should release bees, it's just that I think there are valid research, education, and/or pollination reasons some do, which would make sense to minimally support as a justified use in my opinion. Also, not that you have to post the topic to the email listserv, but I just meant that if you were to you would probably hear people express some differing opinions. You could also optionally post the link to this page to the forum bee/wasp message "listserv," in case anyone wants to add to the discussion on the current page. Below are some of the Crown Bee pages I mentioned, and you could also search through more pages on their website for further details:
https://crownbees.com/where-our-leafcutter-bees-come-from/
https://crownbees.com/parasites-and-diseases-of-mason-bees/
https://crownbees.com/read-this-before-you-buy-bees/

Anotado por bdagley hace 10 meses

As to the prevalence and how wide spread they are, we are equipped right here to judge that:
Osmia cornifrons
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=121508
Osmia taurus
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=461507
Megachile rotundata
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=52783
And here you can see that even within the ranges there are empty areas where they possibly haven't been introduced yet. Especially cornifrons as they have a tendency expand slowly.

Regardless though, I can't think of a single introduced species that became a non-issue no matter how long it was here or how widespread it became. Also to point out, the damage did not happen when they were first introduced and were in small confined areas, the damage grew as their ranges expanded, so why would we assume it would be different for Bees? Especially when the initial research suggests otherwise.
Honeysuckle, nightmare shrub that has completely conquered our woodlands. Any woodland it takes over will lack spring flowers blooming. This has been here for a long time and a huge amount of time and effort goes into its removal.
House Finch, disease. See previous comment, been here for decades.
Apis, disease and massive resource competition. Widespread. Been here since the 1600's
Ring-necked Pheasants. Routinely parasitize nests of Greater Prairie Chickens and other game fowl. Contributor to the disappearance of Prairie Chickens in IL. Widespread. Been here since 1900.
Many plants species that are pretty much established that must be constantly controlled.

For research, I still fail to see the practical benefits. Introduced species have a strong inclination towards an urban environment, which would give little information about their native preferences. And the introduced species in discussion here are part of rather small Subgenera in comparison to the large amount of other native Subgenera. Subgenus Osmia in particular, most of the species in that group are non-native, and Native Subgenus Osmia like lignaria readily use hotels and strikes me that it wouldn't be that much harder to study these. Releasing for research still seems like it would have rather limited benefits vs the potential harm.

While yes the potential harm at the moment is just that: potential, and the declines are not fully understood. Considering that in every case an introduced species becoming widespread has always caused great harm, I would rather error on the side of "let's not, and say we did". I don't think it's a good idea to wait to be concerned until we've confirmed whether or not it's a problem, because in that case it's too late.

To Crown Bees. At this point Crown Bees has been a primary source for your counterpoints. So the two conflicting points of view are me, who you could make the argument that my beliefs on non-native species borders on the religious and therefore makes me blind to alternatives. And Crown Bees, which is a Business trying to make money, no shame in that, I love money, but does color the information they dispense through the filter of what gets them customers. So while I would forgive any who thought my position borders on the fanatical and therefore unreliable, you should also consider that Crown Bees isn't unmotivated in what they say either.

Now as I said earlier, I hate government involvement. I am not campaigning to get people to write their congressmen or any of that BS, what I am doing is:
1, Convince people who have yards and want to help native bees to not add further competition by adding these.
2, Raise the point to people who want the pollination service that working with the native population is not only much more beneficial (from both the pollination standpoint and the environmental standpoint), but is doable.

I was not intending to put this on a listserve, I think it would be a little rude for me to enter a forum and the first thing I do is attack one of the members. I don't like it when new people come onto the iNat forum and do that, so I don't want to do it elsewhere. And from what I've seen, a lot of these forums don't like it when a debate gets to "spirited" which I imagine it would: on one side you have a fanatic and on the other you have a business man. It'd stay polite for, say, 4 responses.

However, if you look into some of the things that Sam Droege, Sheila Colla, John Ascher, ect have said regarding these bees and beewashing, I think you'll find there wouldn't be a lot of differing opinions.

Anotado por neylon hace 10 meses

I'm only familiar with that one company Crown Bees (CB), which is why I focused on it, but have no affiliation and don't know the person who works there. But, that company is relevant because they claim to avoid many issues that could otherwise be a problem for companies selling bees. CB claims to be one of four companies using certified bees and explains their bee sourcing and the precautions they take against pathogen spread. I assume if they had been asked, they'd also say they don't believe their bees are causing new introductions. I can't comment on how most or all other companies selling bees compare to CB, but assume there are others who also take those extra steps, in addition to others who may take less precautions. There, I'd point out that there should be or may already be policy restrictions on the practice of releasing bees that affect all companies, so it's not that even other companies can do anything they want. If there happens to a be a problem with how some companies are participating in this practice, then I'd support strengthening policy.

The megachilid species occurrence maps linked to above are pretty filled in, especially when using the map filter to show GBIF data points from external sources. There are also possibly many unrecorded records that aren't on GBIF, which would fill in the distribution maps even more. As for the application of using these bees to research various matters that would also apply to other bees, we'd need to read more about it, but I believe there are applications, which was also briefly implied in one of the cited articles or their citations. A rough analogy is how mice can be used as model organisms in research applicable to people.

We both wondered if not only non-native but also native megachilids could be used to buy to release (and for research). I suspect that the non-native species (rotundata and cornifrons) have at least slightly greater efficiency and/or ease to work with. They're also the main species used in the industry currently, so there would be difficulty adding a new native species if there weren't sufficient customer or supplier-company interest/demand. Possibly, the choice of species being sold to release may also be affected by only certain species being allowed by existing policy/licenses, and/or for their long history of use in agriculture and related practices, similar to Apis mellifera. I think some native bee species have been released on smaller scales, at least in some research or agriculture contexts, although what we're referring to above is if one could be used widely in place of the species mentioned. Anyway, it would be very interesting to learn if native species could be used and what chance there is of that being done in the future. It would also be interesting to learn more about the research, extent/severity of detrimental effects thought to be only due to current practices of releasing megachilids, how the possible downsides compare to problems caused by honeybees, etc.

As for the listserv, yeah you don't have to post it there, but I didn't think it would be a debate that would offend anyone. Because since there are studies about concerns over transporting bees, it's fair to have a discussion about them. Something like, do overall pros outweigh cons, or to what extent do the potential problems apply to current practices being used, and are there justified uses. Or, what can be done to improve the problems if it's also assumed that the practice will continue. People working more directly in fields that use those bees would also have more knowledge from experience they could add to further inform this discussion. Anyway, it's an interesting topic. I've shared all the info. I have for now, although would be interested to read if others had opinions.

Anotado por bdagley hace 10 meses

Thanks for reading and discussing, I enjoyed it. To clarify one point though, I am against transporting any bee species, native or not. When I say "work with natives", I'm more referring to working with local populations that are already present on the ground which may or may not be Megachilids. For example, someone I talked to who released Osmia for pollinating his berry bushes said that he noticed significantly more Andrena on the bushes than Osmia in the end.

Anotado por neylon hace 10 meses

Sounds good.

Anotado por bdagley hace 10 meses

I'm checking in on this journal because i recently had someone tell me, "they have a friend who is looking for someone to put a honeybee hive in their field so they can help the bees." I'm going to try and encourage them to use the land to help the existing native species. I can discuss this further at another time.

While i was checking in on Neylons journal, i took time to read the interesting discussion.

2022 0bservations, these are the primary species that pollinated the blueberries:
Andrena vicnia https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/117754825
Andrena carlini https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/117753643
Colletes ineqaulis https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/117371229
and Queen Bombus impatiens https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/118834258

There was also a carpenter bee that visited a couple times, carpenter bees rob blueberry nectar. They bite a hole through the side of the flower and drink nectar without pollinating the flower, the damaged flower becomes weakened and at risk of not bearing good fruit.

The blueberry bushes are a couple blocks away from a golf course that has a couple honey bee hives. The honey bees visit my yard but they dont show much interest in the blueberries. I read that blueberries have low nectar, and honey bees prefer flowers with more nectar.

I also had Osmia lignaria and cornifrons nesting in my mason bee house, they were not interested in the blueberries. The Osmia were flying out of my yard and returning with yellow pollen, possibly dandelions. Towards the end of the blueberry bloom i observed one cornifrons flying from the nest box, to the blueberries; that was the only confirmed visit by an Osmia. O.lingaria had already stopped using the nest box by that time.

I haven't observed any O.taurus. [O.taurus have a curved inner tooth at the top of their mandible and O.cornifroms have a right-angle inner tooth on top of their mandible. The O.cornifrons also has a clypeus tip and O.Taurus doesnt. Thats the surest way i know of to tell them apart. Mandible comparison link https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/120259042 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/117414585 ]

I read that mason bees are excellent pollinators of blueberries and fruit trees. They also have a short foraging range; about 300' from their nest. I suppose if someone had a larger scale planting or a blue berry farm, the Osmia might be beneficial for pollinating blueberries. In my small scale garden planting, the Osmia were able to find a preferred food source nearby and were useless to me as pollinators. This is only based upon 1 years observation.

Anotado por wmct276 hace 7 meses

Some Mason Bee information i recently came upon

*An organization called "Rent Mason Bees" ships O.lignaria to the western US (only) , and they only ship O. cornifrons to the midwest and eastern US. The lady in the fall harvest video says they harvested 3 million cocoons in 1 season. They provably shipped 1.5 million O.cornifrons to the midwest and eastern US; in one year? https://rentmasonbees.com/about-mason-bees/

I'm also displeased by the way they clean their cell blocks.
In the fall harvest video, they scrape the cocoons out, then they sterilize the blocks with fire, but they didnt scrub them; and you can see all kinds of crud stuck to some of the banded (sterilized) blocks. I've never used their method, but it seems like they could still be harboring pathogens in and under the crud and in between the blocks. https://rentmasonbees.com/mason-bee-video-library/

*Crown Bees sells a mason bee attractant made out of decanoic acid (and possibly ethyl acetate). MSDS sheet https://workdrive.zohoexternal.com/external/50e17510179e12247e6a511fe5b186a1fff02eab31841ceead04dd3f6229433c

A 2022 study, showed that bee attractants made with decanoic acid are effective at attracting O.cornifrons but it did not have a significant effect on attracting O.lignaria. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jen.13001
So people spray the attractant on the mason bee house to attract mason bees to it. When they harvest the cocoons, they can sell extra cocoons to crown bee. Since the attractant is very effective at attracting O.cornifrons, i would expect most of the cocoons to be O.cornifrons.

*A study by West Virginia University (West & McCuthceon 2009 page 9) showed that blueberries that were pollinated by multiple species yielded 30% more fruit by weight, than blueberries that were pollinated by a single species. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15538360902991303

Anotado por wmct276 hace 7 meses

@wmct276 This is interesting, although mostly seems to be a collection of different mason bee facts. Do you have any opinion on whether their overall use in general is justified vs. harmful?

Anotado por bdagley hace 7 meses

@bdagley I'm currently trying to educate myself on the subject and didn't want to voice an uneducated opinion. I am also the gentleman neylon mentioned in his journal and comment. They guy who spoke to the university before ordering mason bees from Crown Bees; for pollinating my blueberries. As a result, my initial response was just sharing relative information hoping it might be practical.

My Opinion is, there is some justification for agricultural use, but it is potentially harmful. Farmers should use them in moderation and also rely on help from other wild pollinators. Its justified because Mason bees are easy to cultivate which makes them a reliable pollinator for farmers and orchards. Since they are cultivated, the farmer has some control over how many bees they have and when they are released. By cold storing the cocoons, the farmer can potentially release the bees when the spring crop is ready to be pollinated.

If the farmers only relied upon wild bees, they wouldn't have very much control over when the bees emerged and how many bees they have. The farmer can also visually inspect the cultivated nests for pathogens and predators; and take efforts to control them. They cant necessarily do that for wild mason bees. It would also be difficult to cultivate mining bees at an agricultural scale.

Its harmful because most species are already marginalized. Their natural habitat has been depleted or destroyed, and they are living in less than ideal habitat because that's all that is available. Even in a healthy ecosystem, there will still be marginalization because the organisms are reproducing, and the habitat is only so big. When people bring in more bees without providing more habitat, Its harmful to the bees that currently inhabit that territory. Its easier to see this with honey bees, if a habitat is currently supporting 1000 wild bees and someone sets up a hive with 10,000 honey bees, they are going to have an impact on the wild bee population.

Its harmful because, when large numbers of bees are cultivated in one small space, it increases the opportunities to harbor and breed pathogens and predators. Its also harmful when people ship bees, because they can accidently ship pathogens or highly invasive species like O.taurus.

Crown bees helps justify the use of mason bees by diligently inspecting their cocoons for pathogens such as chalk brood and predatory parasites. They say they ship bees back to the region they bought them from., to reduce the risk of spreading pathgens. They also diligently try to educate the customers on how to properly care for mason bees. I dont like that they are shipping non native species such as O.cornifrons. I think its even worse that Rent Mason Bees, only ships O.cornifrons to some regions.

Despite my disappointment, i have to admit O.cornifrons have agricultural advantages that O.lignaria doesnt have. O.lignaria are more likely to lay eggs in reeds, and O.cornifrons are more likely to use the blocks; which are easier to harvest and clean. O.cornifrons are more likely to nest at the site where they hatched, and O.lignaria are more likely to fly away and find a new site. A farmer can increase the likelihood of the O.cornifrons staying at that site by spraying the nest box with decanoic acid, which is less effective on attracting O.lignaira. In my experience, lignaira and cornifrons hatched at the same time, but O.Cornifrons lived longer. The individual bees might not have lived longer, but as a species they were still using my nest box for close to two weeks, after O.lignaria had stopped using it. i can see why people like using cornifrons to pollinate their orchards and such. Personally i dont want O.cornifrons because they are not native.

I would like to know how crops pollinated with wild bees only, compare to crops pollinated with cultivated bees?

I'm a Gardner and a conservationist; not a farmer. therefore, i'm having a hard time justifying the use of my mason bee house. the native bees have it hard. My neighborhood appears to have a healthy native bee population and i dont want to make things more difficult for them. I think im going to keep using the mason bee house for research purposes though.

in conclusion, if somebody wanted to do something to help the bees, they should plant flowers and restore habitat. They shouldn't bring in bees. if someone wanted to use mason bees for agriculture purposes, it might be justified if they did it in moderation and monitored it to control pathogens and predators. The crops yields would also need to be significantly higher than what wild bees could produce.

Anotado por wmct276 hace 7 meses

I partly agree with your conclusions in the last paragraph. Yet, part of my argument is that the non-native bees that individuals or homeowners (for example) buy probably only make up a small fraction of the (even hive-managed) non-native bees in the country. And we know that the most widely used non-native species by individuals, farms, etc. alike are honeybees, which have among the worst effects in every category on native bees. So in one way, if people consider non-natives a "problem," then honeybees must already be a massive and overall poorly-regulated problem in their view. The other side of the issue is that these bees (also) have many benefits, at least for industry/pollination. Some people also include the practice of learning to manage an apiary or buying non-native Osmia bees as an essential or at least justified educational or training practice. With that in mind and knowing something about agricultural and related industries despite having little experience farming so far, it seems like it can be assumed that the use of non-native bees isn't going to go away, which leads to my different framing of the specific issue of Osmia bees.

For those emphasizing cautions and warnings, the best thing that seems possible to do is make optional recommendations (as was done here), or become involved or advocate for more policy regulation of their uses. For example, the idea of limiting the number of Apis mellifera colonies among any of the citizens living in a certain region or spatial scale does make sense, and I think has been used or may be in use in certain locations currently. Similar restrictions or regulations could in theory potentially be made for non-Apis non-native bees. Although as I've implied, Apis seems to be the biggest issue, so I consider it less of an issue if a small percent of people use Osmia, and in addition Apis would probably be the species over which new or expanded regulatory policy would most likely be considered. On the other hand, the industry reliance on Apis means some policy may be difficult to get into action, and that there are known reasons or interests why Apis numbers will likely remain high indefinitely in the country.

Anotado por bdagley hace 7 meses

I agree, the impact of 50-300 mason bees is a fraction of what 6 honey bee hives with 10,000-20,000 bees in each hive could do.

What are your thoughts about shipping mason bees?

Anotado por wmct276 hace 7 meses

Shipping in what sense? I'm mostly only familiar with companies like Crown Bees. I'd currently say research, education, farming, or home uses may be justified, while also understanding that overall non-native bees can also potentially have negative effects, but with the framing and consideration that existing Apis mellifera usages are a larger issue by magnitude. One additional point you made is that in addition to neutral or possible negative effects, non-native bees can also have some (human) benefits in pollination, e.g. in pollinating different plants or pollinating any plants more efficiently. If I were to recommend companies, I'd recommend CB or any other companies that that take extra steps against downsides of non-native bee releases, and recommend against using companies that don't take those steps at least. That said, optional recommendations against releasing non-native bees are also good to consider. Lastly, I'd potentially support policies to regulate/restrict the number of bee colonies/releases of any non-native bees, to the extent such policy exists or can be formed. I've also never released any bees and may never, although releasing bees does have a cool sound to it, kind of like releasing doves or pigeons.

Anotado por bdagley hace 7 meses

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