Distribution, Behavioural Biology, Rearing and Pollination Efficiency of Five Stingless Bee Species (Apidae: Meliponinae) in Kakamega Forest, Kenya.
The study on distribution, behavioral biology, rearing and pollination efficiency of five stingless bee species (Apidae: Meliponinae) in Kakamega forest, Kenya showed that; species diversity was higher at Ivihiga compared to Isiekuti sites. Within habitats, species diversity varied and the indigenous and the mixed indigenous forests had more species diversity than the other habitats. The number of nesting habitats and also the chance of getting a nest of a particular species within nesting habitats varied among the stingless bee species. The nest pattern was under-dispersed for almost all the species nesting in the indigenous forest; mixed indigenous forest and grassland with the indigenous tree species. The nesting pattern for M. ferruginea (reddish brown) and H. gribodoi changed from an under-dispersed and over-dispersed pattern, respectively, to a clumped nest pattern when nesting in the homesteads. Within interspecific species nesting in the same habitat and within the nesting habitats of conspecific species; a difference was observed in the average nearest neighbour distance separating their nest entrances. Three different nesting sites were identified overall species (tree, underground, residential houses). Nest aggregation was observed within four bee species (except M. lendliana) and the average less minimum nearest neighbour distance between nests aggregated on a single substrate varied within conspecific and interspecific aggregation. Daily temperature and humidity influenced the bee flight activities out for foraging or grooming; with temperatures below 22oC and relative humidity above 70% being not ideal for the five bee species to start or maintain their out going flight activity. M. ferruginea (reddish brown) and H. gribodoi were the only species which bite to defend their nests from intruders. M. ferruginea (reddish brown) and M. lendliana were the only species which completely seal the open entrance of their nests at night. Acceptance of the designed hive types varied across bee species. All types of hives designed for M. ferruginea (reddish brown) were accepted at a probability of 0.63 and above. M. ferruginea (black) showed preferences for the two non compartmented hive designs and OATH hive type at a probability of 0,63 and above. H. gribodoi accepted only the icipe 1 hive model compared to the two designs of compartmented hives. M. lendliana preferred nesting only in the hives made out of clay as opposed to wooden hives. Three colonies of M. bocandei were succefully reared in the icipe 1M hive design. The average annual honey production under domestication varied among the five bee species and was higher in the M. bocandei species (3.13 ± 0.21 litres). The hive splitting method was more successful in propagation of colonies of three Meliponula species. Natural enemies recorded in this study included mainly parasites, predators and disturbers. Lastly, flowers of green pepper pollinated by H. gribodoi produced heavier fruits with superior number of seeds and the seeds were bigger compared to those produced by self-pollinated flowers or flowers pollinated by feral insects.