Floral Resources Sustaining African Meliponine Bee Species (Hymenoptera: Meliponini) in a Fragile Habitat of Kenya

Bridget O. Bobadoye, Paul N. Ndegwa, Lucy Irungu, Fombong Ayuka, Robert Kajobe

Abstract


A vast majority of insects visit flowers for food, generally termed as floral rewards. Detailed insights on flowering phenology of plants could give a hint of habitat status and the extent to which such landscapes could support insect pollinators to render both direct and indirect ecosystem services. This study monitored flowering plants which could potentially provide both pollen and nectar sources to four African meliponine bee species (Apidae: Meliponini) naturally occurring in six diverse habitat gradients of the eastern arc mountains (Taita hills) of Kenya. Blooming sequences of identified flowering plants overlapped across seasons with approximately 80 different plant species belonging to 34 families recorded, with the highest proportions from Fabaceae and Asteraceae families dominating flowering plants that were visited (67% of the visits).  A flowering calendar is presented to indicate the phenological pattern of all identified floral resources.  Hypotrigona gribodoi being the most abundant species had the highest visitation rates on plants belonging to Fabaceae and Asteraceae families, followed by Meliponula ferruginea (black), Plebeina hildebrandti and Hypotrigona ruspolii. This indicates that such fragile habitat could invariably sustain nutritional requirements essential for the survival of insect pollinators such as native meliponine bee species, though bee abundance at flowers did not significantly correlate to food availability (expressed by flowering plant richness).


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jbls.v8i1.10127

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