While the Western Honey Bee is seen as one of the best all-rounders when it comes to pollination and, as such, can now be found supporting pollination of many fruit, nut and vegetable crops around the world, it is not always the most effective.
There are more than 20,000 different bee species globally and in specific tropical and sub-tropical regions, such as is found in Mexico, native bees may do better at pollinating certain crops as they are better-adjusted to the local geographical and climatic conditions of the region.
Bayer is looking at the pollination efficiency of native stingless bee species in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Mexico, we are working with El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, looking at three native stingless bee species in four commercial crops grown in the Soconusco area of Chiapas. Crops studied are coffee, mango, rambutan (a red, plum-sized tropical fruit) and vanilla. The researchers are investigating how to best-rear and manage these bees for local pollination.
Native stingless bees could be better pollinators of certain crops in sub-tropical regions.
Project lead for Bayer is Dr. Juliana Jaramillo, scientist at the Bee Care Center, visited Mexico in early June to see the project get underway, together with ECOSUR and also to meet with researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to exchange information on other initiatives related to pollinator health. She says “Projects such as this one are important as they pull together different stakeholders including researchers, farmers and beekeepers to share common goals, enhance crop pollination and protect pollinator diversity to benefit their local communities.”