So, my neighbor’s a bee farmer

Every time I see a (honey) bee in my yard, I always assume it’s from his hive. So, let’s imagine I get a great picture of a bee in MY yard, should I assume it’s his and mark it as cultivated or should I assume it’s wild and not flag it?


I would simply not bother photographing any honey bees in your yard, as they are extremely likely to be from his hives.

If I were you I would concentrate on finding organisms that are pretty much guaranteed to be wild.

But if by chance you get a really superb photo of one of his bees, you could mark it cultivated and upload it anyway.


I was always thinking “cultivated” in animals means something like well behaved. Is there in the English language a word for “captive” that relates to plants only?


That is a good question. I haven’t ever marked a honey bee as cultivated although I imagine most of the ones I see downtown at the park or in my yard are from hives. I consider it useful to record honey bees not only to see what flowers are popular (to gauge what to grow for them in the future), but also to see their activity in colder weather.


My opinion, they’re wild. Does a bee farmer really cultivate the bees, or does he use them to collect honey? Doesn’t a hive pretty much live and breed all on it’s own? Furthermore, I am not for “assuming” one way or another, regardless of the organism, which is probably why I have a problem with the captive vs. wild designation anyway.


I agree, if there’s no physical limitation on them being able to come and go freely, they’re wild.

An owl making it’s home in a bird box in a tree is still wild, but there is no other human interference than providing the cavity in which it makes it’s home. In the case of a bee, they are actively removed from the hive in order to extract the honey, and other interventions also add to the “cultivated” aspect of them. But really, it’s about consistancy… could you get observers and identifiers to consistantly mark them as captive/cultivated? I’m doubtful, and anyone using the data will be aware of this. It’s probably a situation where it’s easier to add fields for “genuinely a wild bee from a wild hive…” than rely on the captive/cultivated setting.


Honey bees seem to be something of an edge case, where an observer can’t really tell whether an individual organism is wild but can make a pretty strong assumption that it has come from a hive. Fortunately, I expect that it’s unlikely any researcher would ascribe much significance to the “captive/cultivated” flag on iNat observations of honey bees.

For the majority of animal observations, it should be pretty clear whether the subject is captive. If the observer wants to take pictures of honey bees, I wouldn’t stress too much about whether to check that box.


Bees tend to divide families and if the owner can’t catch them quickly they become truly wild without many problems (other than finding a good spot for wintering and getting enough supplies for it). The wintering of those that stay depends on their owner, my neighbour took them indside the house, but I’m sure some people don’t, especially in places with warmer winters. I don’t mark bees captive unless they’re near the hive, and it’s a good question how we would call those, e.g. found nearby dead males.


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