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Knowledge Of Honey Bee Species Useful For Conservation 

By Leocadia Bongben
 

CameroonPostline.com — Insect experts have said knowledge of honey bee species is useful for bee conservation. The honey bee is thought to be under threat of disappearance. This was one of the concerns raised in some of the 50 presentations from 20 countries during the Insect Conference that held in Yaounde recently.
 

The conference took place under the theme; “Global change and impact on insect biodiversity: integrated pests and disease vectors management in Africa.” The experts hold that global changes such as climate change and population growth may pose a threat to useful insects like honey bees, a source of honey, wax and foodstuff like beans.
 

For the past decade, the bee population has been on the decline due to habitat degradation, humans cutting down trees, hence bees have no flora. The use of chemicals and pesticides is harmful to bees, single plants and artificial forests, the insect scientists said.The experts, therefore, sought conservations solutions to useful insects like bees and vectors, disease and pest management.
 

Dr. Yusuf Abdullahi Ahmed, a member of the Social Insects Research Group, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences University of Pretoria, said; “Bees smell a particular compound known as pheromones – chemical used for communication within the hive produced by the queen, though worker bees too have their own chemical.” Bees occupy different habitats and vegetation and there is the belief that vegetation might influence their communication and behaviour.
 

“Studying mandibular glands – their antennae,” Ahmed said, “communication among same species of bees is similar but, the amounts of pheromones differ and thus the bees differ in terms of aggression and way they leave the hives.” Working on four of the 11 bee species in Africa, from southern, East and West Africa, he said, it would be good to sample bee species from all the regions; North Africa, Central Africa and islands, to arrive at a conclusion.
 

Ahmed said conservation has to be different with bee species; mono-cultures – multiple crops farming for bee promotion might work in some places but fail in others and thus, a blanket approach may not work. Saliou Niassy, post-doctoral fellow at the Kenyan-based African Insect Science for Food and Health, said it is important to the biology of the insects and their ecology.
 

“Knowledge from these can help to develop management strategies, to improve honey production,” he said. “If you know the diversity of bees in Africa, you can promote or give advice to bee keepers so that they can produce more honey to avoid destroying the forest”. Some of the insects like bees help pollination but, with global warming, these services enjoyed from nature might disappear, said Niassy.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01495

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