Be part of the wild honey bee research community!
If you know a honey bee colony living in a tree, a wall, a chimney or the like, you can easily contribute to the research of honey bees. The BEEtree Monitor allows the reporting and thus continuous monitoring of wild colonies to explore honey bees as an animal in the wild. Together with many others who want to get involved and help honey bees survive on their own. Old literature and recent findings show that bee colonies more often than commonly known live in cavities in trees or walls and survive there for several years. Originally, all bee colonies as wild animals inhabited such cavities, which offer very different conditions than todays boxes used for beekeeping. This research can bring a necessary turn in the debate about the bee mortality and besides set completely new impulses for a kind-appropriate beekeeping. Your help makes this possible! Find out more about how to report a newly discovered bee colony and observe it according to scientific criteria here!
The European Honeybee ( Apis mellifera subsp. ) has already been widely researched as a social insect, its importance in food production and the long tradition of beekeeping. Despite much discussion in media and politics the honeybee has been and is being studied for the most part from a livestock perspective. On the other hand, knowledge about their life as a wild animal is rare. more
Few people know that with the arrival of certain bee diseases 40 years ago, beekeeping today is characterized by continued medication of bee colonies. While honey bee colonies are treated by beekeepers in Germany (and many other parts of the world) several times a year, wild honey bees seem to have disappeared here. The honeybee, essentially a wild creature, has gradually become - in people's perception as well as practiced reality - an agricultural animal maintained by commercial beekeepers, with a multitude of hobby beekeepers mostly taught to manage their colonies along similar lines. All the while wild bee colonies have managed to establish - far more than usually suspected - in cavities of many kinds. Especially cities and urbanized regions offer favorable conditions, due to the variety of nesting possibilities, the abundance of flowering plants, low pesticide use and milder winters. However, the number of bee colonies kept by beekeepers is significantly higher, sometimes by a factor of ten, which can lead to competition with other pollinators and mutual infection with diseases. Even in wooded and rural areas, wild colonies often go unnoticed or are falsely dismissed as escaped swarms. It seems called for to gather more information about where these bees prefer to establish their nests, how long they survive there, which symbionts they live with, how they defend themselves against parasites and viruses and what they may die of.
The knowledge we can gather together will not only afford us useful insights into bee-appropriate beekeeping, but will also put us into a position to re-negotiate the status of the honeybee as a wild animal. In many parts of the world beekeeping and wild-living honeybees exist side-by-side, to mutual benefit. Wild-living colonies have adapted to bee diseases and parasites such as the varroa mite and beekeepers are not dependent on the treatments with pharmaceutical substances, as they appear here (Germany). More information can be found in this work by Barbara Locke and in the Video on bee keeping in Wales.
Last year a report about the disappearing of insects in Germany caused a stir worldwide. Remarkably, the data were collected and evaluated by a large community of both professional and amateur entomologists working together over many years, without remuneration. This show the enormous potential of working together. The joint gathering of the data collected via beetrees.org forms a research project supported by Würzburg University (HOBOS) FreeTheBees (Switzerland), Munich Technical University as well as the Animal Health Service of Bavaria. The date collected are made available to the public as scientific evaluations.
Wild-living colonies may be found spontaneously, they may be reported by people resident near the nests, but they can also be found using a centuries' old technique called bee lining. If you spot a bee on a blossom, feed it with sugar syrup, and patiently follow the flight lines of the growing number of bees that will come to gather the syrup, will eventually find their nest even in the thickest forest. Bee lining is a very special past time for anyone who loves nature, for families, for the scientifically minded and for classes of school children. We published more useful info about this on our website and you may also be interested to attend one of our courses.
What you need
t's fairly straightforward. Enter a profile for yourself on this website and you're ready to go! For actively searching for wild-living colonies and/or observing a known site we recommend the following equipment:
- Binoculars (spotterscope)
- Camera or Smartphone
- Tape measure/measuring stick
- Pencil and paper (or Smartphone) for notes
- Compass & thermometer if poss.