Research Focus

Nesting ecology of African stingless bees


Under the objective to set up model meliponiary rearing sites to demonstrate to farmers the application of intervention logics and scaling up hive products.  Several research tasks were undertaken as follows:
•    Study the species diversity, nesting ecology and biology of stingless bee species from the project countries;
•    Develop a rearing technique of the stingless bee species under captivity adapted to local conditions;
•    Set up model structure of stingless bee species for sculling up hive products;
•    Produce colonies of stingless bee species to use them as pollinator in green houses crops and open field.
So far qualitative data on species diversity in Kenya, Ethiopia and Cameroon is being collected. The project has recorded a total of 13 species out of the 20 species reported by Eardley (2004).

A difference in species richness was recorded: Cameroon (11 species), Kenya (10 species), and Ethiopia (2 species). Lack of a tropical indigenous forest in Ethiopia may be the reason for this inconsistency.


Number of stingless bee species recorded to date in Kenya, Ethiopia and Cameroon


Stingless bees species fauna
A difference in species fauna was recorded between the three project countries. Between the project countries, a high species similarity around 67% was recorded between Cameroon and Kenya. All two species recorded in Ethiopia were also found nesting in Kenya and Cameroon.


Stingless bees species fauna in Kenya, Ethiopia and Cameroon


Similarity in species fauna in Kenya, Ethiopia and Cameroon


Stingless bees nesting ecology


Nesting habitats and sites
The 13 recorded stingless bee species are different in their nesting habitat and sites (Table 6). The type of nest built by the different species ranged from internal cavity nest to external nest; and nests were either build on sites such as tree cavities, underground cavities, and house wall cavities. The selected habitat for nesting also varied among the species with habitats being forest, grassland, homestead or cultivated farm.



Different nesting habitats and sites for stingless bees in Kenya