Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Killer Bees May Increase Food Supplies For Native Bees

Date:
October 2, 2009
Source:
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Summary:
A long-term study of Africanized bee invasion of Mexico's Yucatan shows that "killer bees" may actually increase food resources for native bees.

Throughout David Roubik's long career as a tropical bee biologist, he has tracked the progress of Africanized bees as they swept through Central America. A 17-year study of these "killer bees" shows that drought and climate change may have more effect on native bees than this invasion.

Aggressive African bees were accidentally released in Brazil in 1957. As "killer bees" spread northward, David Roubik, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, began a 17-year study that revealed that Africanized bees caused less damage to native bees than changes in the weather and may have increased the availability of their food plants.

Scientists feared that dangerous swarms of Africanized bees would compete with native bees. Roubik took on the daunting task of sorting out the role of invading pollinators in tropical forests. In 1988, he set up bee traps in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve—a vast area of mature tropical rainforest in Quintana Roo state on the Mexican Yucatan—with Rogel Villanueva-Gutiιrrez, professor at the Colegio de la Frontera del Sur in Mexico. Africanized bees arrived in 1989.

"Our long view of the invasion shows that bees maintain higher-order evolutionary relationships with plants despite ups and downs in bee species within families," said Roubik. "Evolutionary relationships between bees and flowers, along with their flowering schedules, may be the fundamental currency that maintains this community."

Pollen from each plant species has a unique shape. Researchers compared pollen on bees in traps to pollen from flowers in the forest to determine which plants the bees were visiting.

Over the next 17 years, a severe drought and three hurricanes devastated native bees, but their populations rebounded each time. Africanized bees took over pollination of two plant families that had been important food sources for native bees: the cashew family and the spurge family. However, Pouteria, one of the plants native bees prefer, became more common. A few rare species of bees disappeared from traps later in the study.

Roubik cautions that native populations in less diverse areas might be less resilient to invasions. "Basically we're seeing 'scramble competition' as bees replace a lost source of pollen with pollen from a related plant species that has a similar flowering peak—in less-biodiverse, unprotected areas, bees would not have the same range of options to turn to."

These results are published in the Biol. J. Linnean Soc.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Killer Bees May Increase Food Supplies For Native Bees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091001164414.htm>.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. (2009, October 2). Killer Bees May Increase Food Supplies For Native Bees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091001164414.htm
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Killer Bees May Increase Food Supplies For Native Bees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091001164414.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) — A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins