Alien honeybees could cause plant extinction

The research, printed within the journal Diversity and Distributions, was led by Dr Olivia Norfolk of Anglia Ruskin University, who carried out the work alongside teachers from the University of Nottingham.

The scientists monitored the interactions between vegetation and their pollinators within the mountainous area of St Katherine Protectorate in South Sinai, Egypt. The area helps many range-restricted endemic vegetation and pollinators whose future could also be jeopardised by the latest introduction of alien honeybees.

The mountains are characterised by the presence of Bedouin orchard gardens which act as hotspots for biodiversity, offering precious habitat for wild vegetation, pollinators and migratory birds. These gardens kind the idea of conventional Bedouin livelihoods, however just lately managed honeybee hives have been launched to complement their revenue.

The research discovered that launched honeybees had been extraordinarily generalised of their foraging behaviour, visiting 55% of accessible plant species. However they made few visits to range-restricted vegetation and confirmed excessive ranges of resource-overlap with range-restricted bees.

In this arid resource-limited surroundings, the presence of excessive numbers of super-generalist honeybees could pose a aggressive menace to native bees, significantly in intervals of drought.  A earlier research in California confirmed that prime numbers of feral honeybees decreased bumblebee populations by way of intensified competitors over floral assets.

The analysis additionally discovered that the range-restricted vegetation had been considerably extra specialised than wider-ranged counterparts. These vegetation confirmed a a lot greater dependence on range-restricted pollinators and obtained only a few visits from the launched honeybee.

The results of floral competitors, the place honeybees out-compete extra environment friendly native pollinators, could result in a drop in native bee visitation and a subsequent lower of their reproductive success.

Dr Norfolk, Lecturer in Animal and Environmental Biology at Anglia Ruskin University, mentioned: “In this mountain system, range-restricted vegetation exhibited a lot greater ranges of specialisation than their pollinators, suggesting that they might be extra susceptible to extinction.

“Range-restricted pollinators exhibited excessive useful resource overlap with the super-abundant honeybee, which could result in useful resource competitors.  Even a small discount within the inhabitants dimension of range-restricted bees could be detrimental for the reproductive success of range-restricted vegetation, which rely upon low numbers of specialized interactions.

“The introduction of honeybee hives is a standard technique inspired by charities and NGOs to complement livelihoods in rural areas.  Our analysis means that hives needs to be launched with warning as a result of super-generalist honeybees compete with native pollinators and might cause pollination dangers for range-restricted vegetation.

“Any economic benefits associated with honey production must be balanced against the negative impacts to local wildlife, such as the potential extinction of endemic plants species of high conservation concern.”

Images: (high) Anthophora visiting Alkanna and (above) Honeybee hives in Wadi Itlah.
Credit each photographs: Dr Olivia Norfolk, Anglia Ruskin University

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