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  • Honey bees swarm on a honeycomb at a farm in Jordan Valley.

    Honey bees swarm on a honeycomb at a farm in Jordan Valley. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 February 2018

Researchers have cautioned the introduction of outsider bees.

New research has found that the introduction of ‘alien’ honeybees is leading to the decimation of plants, with the bees competing with native ones.

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A study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, led by Dr. Olivia Norfolk of Anglia Ruskin University, discovered this happenstance, alongside academics from the University of Nottingham.

The researchers observed plants and their pollinators in the mountainous region of St Katherine Protectorate in South Sinai, Egypt.

The study found that introduced bees visited 55 percent of plant species, with highly generalized foraging behavior. However range-restricted plants were visited less often by them, overlapping greatly with range-restricted bees.

The study found, overall, that the presence of high numbers of super-generalist honeybees could pose a threat to native bees, particularly during times of drought.

This, the researchers concluded, could lead to drops in native bee visitations, followed by a drop in their reproductivity.

“The introduction of honeybee hives is a common strategy encouraged by charities and NGOs to supplement livelihoods in rural regions,” said Dr. Norfolk. “Our research suggests that hives should be introduced with caution because super-generalist honeybees compete with native pollinators and can cause pollination risks for range-restricted plants.”

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