Hive Density Study


Hive density in the US is an interesting but elusive number. If we could nail it down, I think we could get a better understanding of the effectiveness of swarm lures. Because if there are X number of hives within scout range and you catch X/2 swarms per year, you’d have a good idea that your lure is catching half the swarms possible (assuming 1 swarm per hive per year).

Also, I want to know hive density to know how many swarm traps/bait hives I should put out. This search for knowledge led me down a very interesting path.

Here’s the studies I consulted:

wild bee study Moritz_Size(2007) – Hive Density study in South Africa.

Texas coastal hive densities Baum_05 – ” We evaluated the distribution and abundance of feral honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies in a coastal prairie landscape by examining nest site characteristics, population trends, and spatial and temporal patterns in cavity use. The colony densities of up to 12.5 colonies per km2 were the highest reported in the literature for an area including both suitable and unsuitable patches of
nesting habitat.” –Note how they found the hives in this study!

Density of AHB in Mexico rpccanent1991- Mexico study of Africanized hive density. Estimated 6 per km^2

bees in Arnot forest study Seeley_Arnot_feral – A bit of a complicated report on Varroa Mite survivability in feral hives.

I think I’ve found a large flaw in the body of knowledge surrounding Hive Density studies. You should note that almost all hive density studies are conducted in the following manner:

1. Beeline bees to a hive. Record location
2. Track another hive to a different location.

Now this may sound perfectly normal, but most likely you’ve never beelined. It is a time consuming process and it has a flaw, namely beelining is triangulation and fails when there are several hives in the immediate vicinity. For example, if all of your hives (call it 10) in your outyard were invisible and you had to estimate the hives in your outyard by beelining, you would likely line bees to one hive and move one. Thereafter, you’d ignore all bees going in the general direction of the hive you’d already found because you knew you had already found that hive. But in reality you’d counted 10 hives as 1 and ignored any other beeline under the rational but erroneous conclusion that you’d already found that hive.

In one study, the principal investigator avoids the beeline weakness by simply having searcher go up to every tree and look for hive activity. This study found a much higher density than other studies. Ah ha! I think I need to write a paper and publish this theory of mine.

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