Hello reddit! We are the American Honey Bee Protection Agency. We’re a Texas based 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We specialize in bee conservation through no-kill bee removal and relocation, as well as bee education to the public. Bees play a vital role as pollinators in the environment and we’re here to raise awareness about bees and bee conservation!

What we do is if someone has a wild beehive on their property they want gone (Bee it in a tree, under flooring, in a wall, etc.) we send out one of our bee wranglers. Our wrangler removes the hive rather than having the property owner kill the hive. We then take the hive back to one of our three bees farms, one in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. There we maintain the hives and eventually adopt them to folks who want to keep bees on their property. We then either maintain the hive for the property owner or we give them all the equipment and education they need to maintain the hive themselves. Either way bees are re-introduced to an area and they can pollinate the local ecosystem. Additionally, having honey bees on their property often gives the property owner an agricultural tax exemption that can save them thousands in property taxes, making it a win-win for both the bees and property owner. Also they get LOTS of delicious honey!

We’ve been working for a little over ten years rescuing as many bees as we can. We also work with schools ranging from elementary to high school to educate students about the important role bees play as pollinators in our ecosystem. Additionally we work with local and state government to advocate for bee-friendly policies. We worked with the 2015 Texas legislative session to have western honey bees declared the official state pollinator. Similarly, in 2011 we convinced the City of Austin to change its primary bee policy from extermination of the hive to removal and relocation.

We are self funded through bee products we produce and the bee services we provide. We harvest honey from our rescued bees and sell it through our sister company, Epic Honey, with most all proceeds going back to fund AHBPA. Additionally we ask for donations for our bee removal (Though we do do pro bono removals for those who can’t afford it) and hive adoption.

So ask us anything about bees and bee conservation! We’re going to be answering questions from 11am CST Wednesday to 11am CST Thursday. I, Arlen the reddit proficient intern, will relay questions to our various staff member and then paste their un-edited responses. We’re going to try to answer every question but do be patient.

Here’s our proof: http://imgur.com/a/MqSsQ

Additionally proof: https://www.facebook.com/AHBPA1/posts/1278240558863834

You can also check our website to learn more about bee conservation and the work we do: http://honeybeekind.com/

EDIT: One interesting thing I'd like to add. By pure chance a Harvard researcher who studies hive collapse did a science AMA a few days ago . His work pointed to a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids as large contributing factor to bee population decline. The mostly widely used of the group is a pesticide called imidacloprid. One very good thing for bees you can do is to make sure any pesticides that you or those around you use aren't imidacloprid and aren't in the neonicotinoids group.

EDIT 2: Alright folks, we're gonna wrap up here. Glad to hear all your questions. If you ever want to contact us or ask us more about bees you can do so through our facebook or [email protected] Thanks and Bee Well!

Comments: 164 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

The_Bohammer26 karma

So what's your guys' favorite scene from bee movie? Mines when they make the bee joke.

AHBPA9 karma

I liked the parted where it ended. -Arlen the intern. (Never actually seen it)

total_anonymity20 karma

So you guys totally hate wasps too, right? Because those things are fuckers.

AHBPA12 karma

Colleen/Bee Education Director: Wasps are easy to hate on because they can sting people multiple times, but they are actually good for pest control and a few of them are pollinators! They prey on insects such as aphids and caterpillars that harm plants and are key pollinators for fig trees to the extent that their life cycles are intertwined. I don't hate wasps, but I appreciate them from a distance.

moreddie316 karma

Hey there! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

What can the average person do to help stop this crisis from becoming a catastrophe? And what can we AVOID doing?

AHBPA6 karma

Colleen/Bee Education Director: Hi! The best thing you can do is avoid pesticides called neonicotinoids. Copy and pasted from another response:

There are many contributing factors and its hard to point to just one. But one interesting thing I'd like to add. By pure chance a Harvard researcher who studies hive collapse did a science AMA a few days ago . His work pointed to a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids as large contributing factor to bee population decline. The mostly widely used of the group is a pesticide called imidacloprid. One very good thing for bees you can do is to make sure any pesticides that you or those around you use aren't imidacloprid and aren't in the neonicotinoids group.

Some Neonic background: Neonicotinoids are very effective in killing insects. The problem is that they kill many types of insects, not just pests. They are somewhat unique in that they are applied directly to soil and absorbed by plants. When bees collect pollen and nectar from these plants the toxins impair their central nervous systems and makes it hard for bees to fly, navigate, and find food. A major issue is that bees are attracted to nionicotinoids specifically because of their nicotine-like chemicals. A comprehensive list of neonic pesticides can be found here:

http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/registration/reevaluation/chemicals/niclistofproducts.pdf

Frajer7 karma

What is the cause of the descending number of bees?

AHBPA8 karma

Intern and Environmental Science student Arlen here. There are many contributing factors and its hard to point to just one. But one interesting thing I'd like to add. By pure chance a Harvard researcher who studies hive collapse did a science AMA a few days ago . His work pointed to a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids as large contributing factor to bee population decline. The mostly widely used of the group is a pesticide called imidacloprid. One very good thing for bees you can do is to make sure any pesticides that you or those around you use aren't imidacloprid and aren't in the neonicotinoids group.

ickeroomorgan5 karma

What about the varroa mite?

knackbock5 karma

There is consensus among long-term beekeepers that back when the mite was introduced, colonies tolerated a way higher mite load than today (no neonics back then).

Also, the mites are omnipresent and visible, while chemicals cannot be seen. So a hive that takes a hit by pesticides will be finished of by varroa. All the beekeeper sees is varroa damage.

That said, there are lots of beekeepers that are lazy or ignorant with mite management and lose their bees because of this. Not everybody is affected by neonicotinoids.

AHBPA4 karma

Payden here: THIS!!^ Also pointing to my comment earlier on africanized honey bees.. The African honey has had the longest exposure to varroa besides the Asian honey bee. I see less negative varroa impact on aggressive, africanized hives(and possible Asian h.b. genetic decent) than in the hives of calmer western or European honey bee species. Asian honey bees have been documented ridding themselves of, killing and disposing of varroa; showing mechanisms of varroa treatment innate to this species.

mikeyfreshh7 karma

If I find a beehive on my porch, how can I safely move it without killing the bees?

AHBPA3 karma

Payden here: Sounds like someone has a hive on their porch..

Search your area for a honey bee rescue company first! Get an estimate and professional examination. I won't tell anyone to watch a video and try it themselves...... Even if that's how someone found their passion for working with bees years ago.....

Nzash6 karma

If you had to name 5 bees, what would you name them? What are some cute bee names?

AHBPA10 karma

Colleen/Bee Education Director: I love this question! My students like to name the queens in their hives. The most popular one is Beyonce, but honorable mentions go to Queen Elizabeth, Queen Latifah, and B-e-a-utiful. If I had any input on these names I'd name one Ginny Beasley.

IntoTheRails5 karma

I live in indiana and was interested in bee keeping. What happens in a climate where it gets cold in the winter. Do you have to start a new colony every year?

AHBPA3 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: Being that I'm a born and raised southerner, I don't have personal experience with keepin bees up north. Though I have read that people in snowy regions will cover their hives with insulated boxes in the winter and they survive until spring. To interested folk I recommend 'Beekeepers Handbook 4th edition" by Diane Sammataro.

Travbags5 karma

My friends and I want to start a bee farm at our respective domiciles. Any advice in starting one and can this help your efforts?

AHBPA8 karma

Payden here: Look for a local honey bee group and ASK QUESTIONS. Watch videos online. Read a book. 'Beekeepers Handbook, 4th edition' by Diane Sammataro is awesome. Start with 2 hives so you can compare. Don't delay! Anyone putting an effort towards helping and housing honey bees is helping everyone.

microsno4 karma

Is the honey industry beneficial to bees or does it harm them?

AHBPA3 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler: This all comes down to the apiarists involved. Honey can be harvested from hives in a respectful and responsible way to ensure the continuing health and growth of the hive. But I'm sure, there are some who sacrifice the growth and health of hives to make the "all mighty dollar".

KillerCowboy4 karma

I live in a fairly rural area, would back yard bee keeping be anything viable to do some help? I've heard both good and bad.

AHBPA6 karma

Intern Arlen here. Totally viable even in urban areas. We have several hives in urban areas in downtown Austin. Even better though being in a rural area. One very great book I would recommend is The Backyard Beekeeper's Honey Handbook. Great book that covers all the aspects of beekeeping. Also look around, there might be a local beekeeping club in your area that would be willing to help you get started.

Good luck!

AHBPA4 karma

Payden/Bee wrangler here: Absolutely! Plants need pollination whether they're in rural or urban areas. Some rural areas need pollinator sanctuaries because vast expanses of the land has been cleared for monoculturally growing crops. This creates food deserts for pollinators. So in taking care of a hive in one of these areas, one would provide a service to the wild plants still needing insect pollination. And honey for themselves!

Hullian1113 karma

How do you and your other AHBPA employees feel about the Bee Movie YouTube remixes? Has a slight rise in interest occured off the back of this or not?

AHBPA2 karma

Payden here: I know not of these remixes you speak of.. And i havent seen Bee Movie so..shrugs.

gwar373 karma

So, just as an average person without who is concerned about the well being of bees, what can I do to help out?

AHBPA5 karma

Intern and Environmental Science student Arlen here. Copy paste from a similar question:

There are many contributing factors and its hard to point to just one. But one interesting thing I'd like to add. By pure chance a Harvard researcher who studies hive collapse did a science AMA a few days ago . His work pointed to a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids as large contributing factor to bee population decline. The mostly widely used of the group is a pesticide called imidacloprid. One very good thing for bees you can do is to make sure any pesticides that you or those around you use aren't imidacloprid and aren't in the neonicotinoids group.

Jaybone1043 karma

I just "adopted" 4 colonies from an older lady whose husband passed away. I took them home and set them up but two hives were abandoned within weeks. What did I do wrong? One hive was placed under a telephone line and the rest are within a half mile of a cellphone tower; could this have played a role in them disappearing?

AHBPA2 karma

Payden/Bee wrangler here: Many factors could play into this. Did you check inside the hives before they absconded? If so, did they have honey stores? Were there pests? I personally haven't seen a link between absconding hives and cell phone towers and telephone lines. I look after hives a quarter mile from a cell tower and theyare happy and healthy.

In our area, this time of year right before the honey bees winter dormant period there is little nectar and pollen to be gathered in the fields. They tend to become more aggressive with each other and will begin to rob food from other hives. Small hives can be over run by too many robber bees. Theyll consume all the honey/pollen and the hive leaves. You'd see broken down wax in the bottom of the hive.

1fresco3 karma

Do bees respond music?

AHBPA5 karma

Only when the BEE-at drops -Arlen

HYPEREKESHEXPRESS2 karma

Hey sorry I am late, how do you believe the growing medicinal use of honey will effect the bee population in the long term?

AHBPA2 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: I believe it could be a good movement for the honey bee. Industrial Agriculturally speaking, honey bees are used for pollination purposes. Sometimes the honey is saved and sold. Others discarded because of the extreme use of pesticides/herbicides/fungicides in the fields&orchards where the honey bees are briefly kept. If the demand rises for safe, synthetics free honey; then more beekeepers might be inticed to only work with farms that spray less, or not at all, so they could sell the honey.

But all in all its up to the apiarist to know how much honey can safely be pulled from their hives without harming the bees.

Bumblejesus2 karma

Hello, I'm a beekeeper in the austin area with a background in biology. Do you happen to know of any career opportunities for a guy like me? Please save me from my boring job. I've been thinking of volunteering as a bee wrangler when the season picks up again regardless. Thanks for all the good work you're doing!

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: Stay active in the beekeeping community. Volunteer. Network. There's a lot of bees to be rescued but only so many who can do it. Don't settle for less than what makes you feel fulfilled in the workplace.

ismoak2 karma

Can you explain what type of bees are in danger and why? Are all bees in danger?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: Right now, no, not all bees are in danger. Large populations of honey bees that farmers use for pollination purposes in conventional industrial agriculture settings are in danger. And i assume native bee species could be at risk of certain chemicals and pests that can damage honey bees. To my knowledge, not as much is known about a vast majority of our native bee populations and their numbers around the states.

dumsterdave2 karma

Should we all be vegan and stop eating honey? Ive heard that it's bad to eat honey because basically you are taking away the nutritious honey from the bees and replacing it with nutrient lacking sugar water. Also, aren't honey bees breed to be less aggressive? If its anything like dogs or cats, then as we breed the "new" species, they inherently develop health problems. Could the weakening of the honey bee species be partly to blame for the decreasing numbers of bees?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: I believe not. It's on the apiarist to know how much honey to pull and leave for a hive to stay healthy. Honey bees don't produce a set amount of honey. They store up nectar until the honey flow(time of seasons when flowers give nectar) stops, or they run out of room for storage. When money is to be made off of a product, the health of the source of that product is at risk. It's our responsibility as apiarists to find the line of disrespectful and dangerous practices and not cross it.

Some honey bees species are bred for their docileness. But for every hive being domesticatedly built, there are several more feral hives in the environment keeping the gene pool diverse.

theabidingdue2 karma

Have you heard about using hops to protect bees from mites? Any thoughts about beekeepers partnering with microbreweries?

AHBPA2 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: No I haven't. Thanks for the info, I'll be looking into that.

TheNastyBits2 karma

Thank you for your work! For those of us not in your area, are there similar organizations across the country? What would be the best way to find them?

AHBPA2 karma

Payden/Bee wrangler here: I'd recommend calling your local ag extension office and ask about a group near you. Yahoo groups, or similar sites, might be worth a shot as well.

czarnick1232 karma

If bees wore pants, how would they wear them?

AHBPA1 karma

How?

G4MI672 karma

Do you guys routinely watch the Bee Movie?

AHBPA4 karma

Payden here: At every quarterly meeting. Keeps moral up.

burntbythesea2 karma

Fellow Austinite here, thanks for hosting this AMA! Can you recommend a good resource for planting plants that might keep the bees happy?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: Hey there! Thanks for your question. Check out the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower center and website. It's awesome!!! Great encyclopedia of plants and a bee friendly section with pictures.

the70sdiscoking1 karma

What's the buzz?

AHBPA4 karma

Its the bees in your knees. -Arlen the intern

krodmandoon11 karma

At this rate do you believe there will be a Bee Movie 2?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: based on hype in this AMA, I'd say probably so.

dogooder0071 karma

What's eye longest, bees can actually travel in one go? Can they move across continents?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: Interesting question. I dont know.

Ash_Britt_Chloe_Spik1 karma

Is it true that if you don't get the Queen the rest of the bees in a relocated hive buzz around aimlessly and die? Also, had you heard that most honey sold in stores is really a lot of High Fructose Corn Syrup?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: Not quite. If a rescued hive doesn't have their queen a couple things could happen. A: If any larvae at the right stage in life are with the relocated hive then the workers will begin building a queen cell around said larvae, and turn it into their new queen. B: If no larvae or present or we didn't requeen or combine with another hive, then that hive will either leave the box. Or.. C: Continue building their comb out while they dwindle in numbers until there is no more.

I have heard word of large scale honey corporations mixing HFCS into honey to raise profits. And that is horrible..

cantgetenough241 karma

Have you ever been swarmed by them? I had a cousin who went out on an EMT call to a woman who was being attacked. He said she was stung hundreds of times and had bees inside her sinus cavity and everywhere else you could think of.

Also, where at in Dallas? I live here and would love to be able to refer people to y'all!

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: Whheewww! In the sinus cavity sounds brutal. I've never been attacked without a suit on, but yes I have been aggressively shown off a property a couple times. Usually provoked by the lawnmower or weed whacker. Honey bees DO NOT like the vibrational frequency of lawn mowers and will quickly pour out of a hive to let you know.

I believe we cover most of the Dallas area. Please and Thank You! Refer away amigo! The website is the best way to be contacted about removing a hive. Ahbpa.org

AirRaidJade1 karma

Scientists are still unsure of the cause of the deadly worldwide bee die-off/disappearance in 2008.

Do you guys have any theories about that?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden/Bee wrangler here: In my opinion, it was(and still is) the combination of varroa mite infestations, improper pesticide/fungicide/herbicide use, and poor beekeeping and food production practices.

dealemma1 karma

Do you think the European bee culture is different? Got some bees as a hobby, I only sell like 20 glasses of honey a year.
Very few keep them as a main source of income.
In the USA there are companies that rent their bees to farmers, mostly for fruits.
Afterwards the honey is thrown away, because of the chems on the fields.
This feels strange to me.
In Europe it is probably to late for the bees. Varoa kills what is left, especially because winter breaks are very short because of global warming. European bees can't remove varoa themselves, meaning we have to intervene, which is expensive and hard to do.

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: The two countries culture does seem to be different, for reasons you mentioned. We have some serious work and changes needing to be done in our agricultural sector, especially pertaining to bees.

randyisabeast1 karma

Is it true that swatting bees increases their hostility? Any best practices when confronted with a bee attack?

AHBPA2 karma

Payden/Bee wrangler here: Yes. Eratic movements seem to draw more attention than calm, fluid movements. Cover your face and get into the nearest vehicle, structure, or anything to separate you from the bees. Once you've been stung you've been marked with a pheromone from the bees abdomen, and the other attackers become drawn to it. Think little insect homing missiles. If you can't get into something until they calm down and disperse, get as far away as you can from their hive site...asap!

demonrager1 karma

Hi. Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions! I'm interested to know, are you world wide? Because I've never heard of this in Australia.

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: Thanks for the question and interest. Our organization is not world wide. I bet there are some Australian organizations doing what we do as well though. To the internets!!

_Capt_Underpants_1 karma

Should we be worried about the spread of Africanized Honey Bees? Or is "killer bees" a reactionary nickname?

AHBPA2 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: Personally, I have come to the point where I welcome them. I already work with them. The more aggressive the hive the more honey it can produce, and in my experiences I have seen that the more aggressive hives (potentially africanized) handle mites better than their European counterparts. "Killer bees" is a reactionary nickname, that I don't like; but they are much more aggressive(& in the wrong situation dangerous) so I get why its used.

knightni731 karma

Since the domestic honey bees that we know today are not native and were introduced to and developed in North America, how were plants pollinated prior to their introduction?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden-Bee wrangler here: Prior to the pollination efforts of the honey bee in our modern day, North American plants needing insects for pollination depended on the butterflies/moths, pollinating flies, and native bee populations, to do this work. However these insects are not suited for pollinating crops on a scale that our industrial agricultural system demands. Which points to a main reason, I believe, why the non-native honey bee has been welcomed with such open arms.

Although...a fossilized female worker honey bee was found in Nevada, I believe in 2009, and dates at least 14 million years old, middle miocene era. So it could be that the honey bee was once a native North American insect, but didn't survive to modern times.

JustBlewMyLoad1 karma

What bees produce the best tasting honey? Are certain bees more efficient at producing honey than others?

AHBPA3 karma

Payden the Bee wrangler here: The flower in which the honey bee has collected nectar from alters the flavor of the honey more than anything. Some flowers (buckwheat) can make a dark brownish, almost black honey. The sunflower however makes a light golden honey. Tastes differ greatly too.

In my years, I've noticed that more aggressive(possibly africanized bees) are more productive honey makers. They're quicker and more likely to fight for a flower than the calmer and larger bodied European honey bee.

redowl1 karma

Hello, thanks for doing this! I've heard that hives can have different personalities - some being more docile and others more 'angry' and prone to stinging. Have you found this to be true in your experience?

AHBPA5 karma

Payden/Bee wrangler here: Thanks for your question. Yes! This is very true. But in certain situations docile bees can become aggressive. Sometimes when I remove a smaller sized hive from a structure(shed or meter box), I get no fuss from it. But once I've taken it to its new home and it becomes established and large in numbers, with more offspring and food to protect, it'll begin acting aggressive. They have more guard bees at that point and more to lose. And some hives are always aggressive, despite how small they may be.

Temperament is a genetic trait though, and certain honey bees are bred for their known docileness.

MakeLeahGreatAgain1 karma

How often do you get stung while on the job?

AHBPA6 karma

Payden-Bee wrangler here: On average 4/5 days a week I get stung. Although I do daily tasks with bees that put me in the situation to get stung; such as removing hives from structures, transferring established frames from old boxes to new boxes, and working with large grumpy hives. No swelling or problems, so I look at it like free bee acupuncture.

AHBPA5 karma

Walter, founder of AHBPA. Sometimes but mostly my fault

Ferrocol1 karma

I plan on planting bee-friendly flowers next spring and I already buy local honey, but I don't feel like I'm making much of a difference! Is there anything else I, and anyone else, can do to help out these fuzzy pollinators?

AHBPA7 karma

Payden/Bee wrangler here: Absolutely! Planting bee friendly plants is a great way to give back to our honey bee homies. This is especially important in large residential areas where the plants previously providing nectar/pollen have been taken out for common residential landscaping plants that provide little to no food.

Money talks as well. Every time we buy food, we vote for which food producer we want to continue using their practices. Find farms that don't use neonicotinoids and other synthetic chemicals (which are harmful to bees) on their crops and support them.

Thanks for your dedication!!

Euuphoriaa1 karma

If bees do become extinct, do you think there is any chance of creating a way to artificially pollinate flowers or is that completely out of the question?

AHBPA5 karma

Hello, Payden-Austin Bee wrangler here: In China there are areas where bee populations have dramatically decreased from widespread pesticide use. The people of these regions have had to turn to hand pollinating their crops that depended on insect pollination. They dip paint brushes into pollen bottles and brush each flower they want to produce fruit. As you can imagine, it's a very time consuming and labor intensive method. As Courtney said, there ain't nothing like the real thing. That's why we do what we do.

AHBPA5 karma

Hi there! Courtney Ray here, executive director: we've heard of artificial pollinators being created however they are very expensive (around $5,000 per bee) and it's likely they wouldn't be as good as what we've got already!

i-love-peggy-powell0 karma

Why are bees such assholes?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: Naaahhhhhh

i-love-peggy-powell0 karma

Suck it

AHBPA1 karma

Arlen: Nahhhhhhh

chickenman0321-2 karma

[deleted]

AHBPA3 karma

Payden- Depends on the Court of Law we're in.

patentolog1st0 karma

What is the result in a court following Bird Law?

AHBPA1 karma

Payden here: 1 sec I'll find out... yells "Birdman! Get in here!"

patentolog1st1 karma

BTW, did you especially enjoy Silverado?

AHBPA1 karma

Ehh. Rather watch hang em high or fistful of dollars. The scores are so much better!!