Floral Resources Partitioning by Two Co-occurring Eusocial Bees in an Afromontane Landscape
Keywords:Apinae, Apis mellifera, honeybee, stingless bees, interspecific interactions, pollination
Floral preferences of generalist foragers such as eusocial bees influence the success of pollination of many flowering plants, as well as competition with many other bee species in tropical communities. Eusocial bees are important for the pollination success of many flowering plants, as well as for food resources availability for many other species. However, their foraging preferences are still unknown in many tropical areas, especially in the Afrotropics. We studied the foraging activity of two syntopic eusocial bees with large colonies, the honeybee Apis mellifera Linnaeus and the stingless bee Meliplebeia ogouensis (Vachal), on seven plant species in the Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon, in two consecutive years. Simultaneously, we quantified intra- and inter-annual changes in the food resources. We observed resource partitioning among the two bee species. Although both species are considered as generalists, their short-term food niches overlap was very low. Their preferences to the most often visited plants differed even more strongly interannually. Our results bring the first evidence on such relatively strong resource partitioning among two dominant eusocial bee species from West/Central Africa.
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