Summary of bee collections in Mwakoma: January 2017
Report by visiting Entmologist, Laura Russo
The primary purpose of this preliminary study was to determine whether the presence of the honeybee hive fence has a negative impact on the diversity and abundance of wild bees in Mwakoma farms. We compared 5 beehive fence farms with 5 nearby farms that did not have beehive fences. We conducted both bee bowl surveys along a 50m transect, and net collections of 30 min duration at each farm. These surveys were repeated 3 times from January 11 through January 26.
First, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the nine farmers who allowed us to work on their land, without whom the study would not have been possible.
Because we sampled during the dry season, honeybee occupation of the beehive fences was low (see Table 1). This may have affected our results, but is an accurate representation of the typical occupancy during drought.
Table 1. Number of bees collected by bee bowls and nets at each farm, as well as the occupancy of the honeybee hive fence and the number of plant species we collected from.
|Farm||Bowl Collections||Net Collections||Hive Occupancy||Plant Species|
Overall, we collected 628 bees during our standardized collections at the farms. However, we did not find any significant differences in the total number of bees at beehive fence farms as compared to farms without beehive fences in either the net collections or bowl collections. Similarly, we did not detect any difference between the number of honeybees collected by net in farms with and without beehive fences.
Because we only collected one honeybee in a bowl during the duration of the study, we cannot say whether there was any change in the density of foraging honeybees on a 50m transect away from the beehive fence.
We collected bees on 25 species of plants, of which the Grewia was by far the most popular (147 bees). The next most popular plant was Sericocomopsis (61 bees). On average, we sampled from 5.5 plant species per farm. Kakongo and Harisson had the highest number of plant species (8). There was no relationship between the number of plant species we sampled from and the number of bees we collected.
We are now working on identifying the wild bees we collected in the farms to determine whether the presence of the beehive fence had any impact on the number of species of wild bees. We did catch a large diversity of wild bees, including many beautiful species (e.g. Fig. 1). A secondary purpose to our project was to contribute to the fundamental knowledge of bee diversity in Kenya, as the Tsavo region is relatively unexplored. Our bee specimens have been delivered to the National Museum in Nairobi and will be included in a DNA barcoding project to explore the diversity of bees in Kenya. At this point, from an initial overview, we have separated 81 morphospecies which are awaiting official species assignment.