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A former member
Post #: 84
I just GOOGLED 'radio waves' and 'bees' and was astonished at the linkes between bee die-off from confused navigation and other causes attributed to HDTV--Maine Public Broadcasting towers responsible for BEE population declines????

Anyway there is a lot of speculation about the proliferation of cell phone and HDTV broadcasting towers and the decline in BEE populations...more like a buzz.

My garden has several different varieties of bees on the flowers.

How do I differentiate the native 'wild' bees from ones domesticated for honey production?

Are there ways to get them to build a hive in the back yard? Or to locate their hives?
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 64
There are very few wild bees around due to limited habitat. Honey bees are not a native species.

At this point the radio wave/cell phone connection is looking like an urban myth. See the previous NY Times article about viruses. It would be a good one for the mythbusters to try and tackle.
A former member
Post #: 86
What are bumble bees then?

Somehow, I'm more likely to believe that honey bees were brought over by European colonists is a myth; hard to believe native bees weren't in the Americas before then.

...bees in the garden aren't talking; told me to buzz off!
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 65
Honey bees are native to Italy. See my earlier post about the Jamestown settlers.

Bumblebees are excellent pollinators for many things. We have many different mason and leafcutter bees that are native and actually the best pollinators of blueberries and many other plants. Loss of habitat is the big problem. You can make houses for these bees with a drill and and piece of 2x6 and a small strip of metal. It might take 20 minutes. I made 3 for $0. Once installed maintainance is 0. They should last till the wood rots.

Read about native bees and see how to make the house here. It's very easy. You will need 2 drill bits.


A former member
Post #: 19
Hi Frank,

Next season, try setting out a hive body with frames and see if any honeybees move in. I was told to try it after it was too late in the season to order bees but I never got around to building the extra hive in time. At the Meetup dinner, Max mentioned that bees moved into an old hive at his place and I've heard of it happening to others as well. It's too late this season, but worth a try come next June when bees sometimes swarm.
I have tons of bumblebees in my garden and everything (like the anise hyssop, buckwheat and bee balm) that I planted for my honeybees is instead visited by the bumblebees. I have heard that honeybees don't really like pollinating deep flowers or flowers with double petals but I don't really know if this is true. Bumblebees will visit red clover whereas honeybees visit the white. Right now, my honeybees are loving my 'Autumn Joy' sedum.
If anyone is interested in keeping bees, I highly recommend Rick Cooper's little bee school up in Bowdoinham.
( Bees and Me) He has about 100 hives, a honey business, is a master beekeeper and runs a month-long, Sat. morning school in April. He tells you how he does it and gives a strong recommendation for you doing it that way too but of course, there are many many ways to keep bees. He also sells all the stuff so you could start building hives over the winter and sells package bees that come at the end of April. If anyone is interested, I can post my favorite books.
Merry & Burl H.
Portland, ME
Post #: 14
Yes, Winnie, please post your favorite books. Thanks for the reference to Rick Cooper, too. Googling him has provided lots of information, including his view on the die-off:

"Rick Cooper, a beekeeper in Bowdoinham, dismissed some of the recent media attention to bees as "hype." He also scoffed at a report that cell phone transmission towers might be disorienting bees. What's bothering bees, he said, is being trucked around the country from Florida citrus groves to California almond plantations to Maine blueberry barrens, and back to Florida. "They're stressing the bees beyond belief," said Cooper, who said he takes his bees only short distances for pollinating. "It's absolutely about how the bees are being treated. We're doing more and more with fewer and fewer bees," he said."

Blessings, Merry
A former member
Post #: 64
I've been meaning to write a long post but have not got around to it, so a short one will have to do for now. Merry thanks so much for the links. I did a lot of reading, following links, and on and on. I have meant to save some links to the most interesting things, and hope to do that eventually. One thing worth mentioning now is that I read that it was the importing of cheap honey from China that forced the beekeepers to start trying to make money by transporting their bees for pollination because they could no longer make any money on their honey. Once again we find our greedy trade practices coming back to bite us in the ass.

How did your hive do this year Winnie? And please do post the titles of the books you have read. It seems pretty certain that we will have a few hives next spring so I look forward to learning all I can.
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 66
The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck is the "original text" about bees from 1901. Most of the bee info is still good. It is also a philosophical tome about the way we choose to live. It is still in print and a good read for non beekeepers as well. I saw you can buy it at amazon for 9.95. It's short enough to knock off in a couple/few hours.

I'm reasonably sure that these truck bees can pass disease to local bees (in addition to the stress factor). That's why sticking around your own neighborhood is a good idea like the guy in Bowdoinham does. There would not be a lot of trucked bees were it not for the growth and mechanization of agribusiness that will continue for as long as the population grows. There will always be a need for truck bees as long as we do it this way. Getting committed to buying/growing locally is the only way out.

Don't forget to make that wild bee house........
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 67
Here is a link to a bee house you can buy that opens up so you can see the bees working under glass! A mason bee observatory!


I just ordered one and it was cheap enough but the shipping is a bit high. Go UPS ground since you don't need it till early spring anyway.

There seem to be a number of places you can buy bee houses that look nice like a bird house. Apparently this is popular in Europe/UK and they are viewing their wild bee population losses with much greater concern. I learned along the way that almond growers use mason bees in their orchards that are in some cases, apparently trucked in.

BTW, one 2x6 beehouse as shown in the UMaine link could produce 300-500 new bees a year.

Don't get me started on bat houses. I do have one............. One brown bat can eat 3000 mosquitoes a night. Nuff said.
A former member
Post #: 20
There are many good books on beekeeping but these are my three favorites:

'Towards Saving the Honeybee' by Gunter Hauk
Talks about using alternative techiniques in support of bees' natural instincts rather than for ease of
the beekeeper. A thin book packed with information that is best read at your leisure rather than when you
are standing at your hive wondering what to do.

'Hive Management' by Richard Bonney
A seasonal guide that Gunter uses in his weekend organic beekeeping workshop (offered thru the Pfeiffer
Center in Spring Valley New York each April.) Well written and easily accessible.

'Beekeeping for Dummies' ( yes, you read it correctly. It's one from the many yellow and black Dummy series)
This is the most accessible book I know about and the one I reach for when I want to know which side
goes up etc., etc. It's the one I carry to the hive and stand there and read while I'm doing a task. Sure, I
may modify what I'm doing to Gunter or Rick's recommendations but this is the book that lays everything out
step by step.

I also highly recommend that you find yourself a mentor who will sometimes come to your hive and be a support as you learn how to do tasks. This is especially important the first cycle until you've done every task at least once.

Hope this helps,
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