Allodapula bees

Summary

Honey bees are not the only bee species that are significant for human wellbeing. Allodapula bees (?small carpenter bees?) are a group of native bee species that do not produce honey but are likely to be important pollinators of crops and wild plants. Females have a sting, but they are not aggressive and will only sting if handled. Allodapula bees nest in dead wood and live independently of others (i.e. they are solitary) or in small colonies. They are small and shiny and most Allodapula bee species have a dark head and thorax, and orange abdomen . This fact sheet provides information about these bees to encourage farmers to understand and protect them to help ensure that their crops are effectively pollinated.

From a conservation and agricultural standpoint it is not necessary to recognise all the different bee genera. However, it is important to know that there is a large bee biodiversity. Different bee genera pollinate different plant species, although there is some overlap that acts as a buffer as bee populations wax and wane. For healthy ecosystems, including agro-ecosystems both diversity and abundance in the bee fauna is important.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Hymenoptera

Family: Apidae

Subfamily: Xylocopinae

Tribe:  Allodapini

Genus: Allodapula Cockerell, 1934

Species in the Genus

Bee species belonging to the genus Allodapula are known only fromAfrica. Allodapula is not a large bee genus with only 16 species described (Eardley, Kuhlmann and Pauly 2010).

Species in Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda

Only Allodapula variegata has been recorded inEast Africa (Eardley and Urban 2010). The genus was revised by Michener (1975), and although there is always the possibility of finding new species, it is unlikely that additions species occur in East Africa.

Description

Allodapula bees are not well known by local people (including farmers) inEast Africa. These insects are not usually recognised as bees by local people in East Africa , where the name bee is generally thought only to apply to honey bees. They are small shiny bees, mostly with a dark head and thorax in contrast to an orange abdomen .

Possible Causes of Confusion

Allodapula bees are commonly mistaken for Ceratina bees (also known as small carpenter bees). The bodies of Ceratina bees are mostly well sclerotised (“armoured?) and robust, and they are mostly black or metallic blue. Allodapula bees are weakly sclerotised and fragile looking.

Distribution in Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda

Allodapula bees are known from a few districts/regions of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania . Farmers can assist in reporting the presence of these bees in their neighbourhood. This would improve our knowledge of their distribution in the region.

Habitats

Allodapula bees can be found in various habitats (land-uses) in East Africa such as grasslands, natural forests, wetlands, marshlands, open habitats, protected areas, farmlands, rangelands, woodlands, woodlots (forest plantations) and riparian areas.

Nesting

Allodapula bees live independently of others (i.e. they are solitary) or in small colonies. The frequency of cooperative nesting is low compared with other species in the Allodapini tribe. Allodapula bees nest in dead wood. Some species have been seen nesting in dead dry wood located inside termite mounds found in dry and cool undisturbed sites. At least one species is parasitic on other species in the same genus.

Crops Visited

Most Allodapula bee species in East Africa collect nectar and pollen from a wide range of flowering crop species belonging to different plant families. These bees are efficient pollinators of crops such as beans, cowpeas and simsim (sesame).

Other Plants Visited

InEast Africa, Allodapula bees visit various wild plant species (trees, shrubs, herbs, weeds, lianas) found in different habitats, notably those in the Fabaceae, Malvaceae, Rubiaceae and Asteraceae families. These bees preferentially visit plant species with small to large size flowers of yellow, white, green, milk-cream and purple colours.

Economic / Ecological Importance

Little information exists on the usefulness of these bees to the lives of the people in East Africa. However, they are likely to be pollinators and thus contribute to increased agricultural productivity and the conservation of the natural biological diversity of the region.

Threats

InEast Africa, Allodapula bees and other bee taxa are threatened by factors such as habitat degradation, agricultural intensification (e.g. replacing hedges with barbed wire fences, and increased use of herbicides which can affect wild flower numbers) and the misuse of insecticides. Wood collection can affect nesting sites for these species. Allodapula bee populations in East Africa are likely to be affected by pests and diseases but information on this subject is lacking. The lack of knowledge of about these bees and their economic importance by people (de facto custodians of nature) is significant as their conservation and management practices implemented at the farm level will depend to a large extent upon the value that people attach to them.

Conservation and Management Practices

There are now concerted research efforts in the region to develop best practices for conservation and management of bees to enhance crop production. Theoretically, bee conservation and management is inexpensive and adopted activities can also improve the aesthetic value of the landscape. Such practices involve setting land aside (e.g. a 1-metre strip) in the farmland to host all year round food resources for the bees, as well as safer sites for nesting, mating, resting and refuge from natural enemies. During flowering, farmers should manage pesticide usage carefully to avoid poisoning flower-visiting bees. Farmers should also minimise pesticide drift from the field to adjacent areas. Laws governing registration and use of plant protection products also indirectly play a major role in the protection of pollinators. Wood collection should be managed to conserve the nesting sites of these species. KARI (the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) is developing protocols for mass rearing of different species of solitary bees. Any successful results from this research will be freely communicated to the public. In addition, KARI is collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure in situ conservation and management of bees for pollination purposes. Much of the work of conserving native bees will be underpinned by raising public awareness of the importance of these species.

Legislation (National and International)

There is not yet any legislation in East Africa that explicitly addresses pollinators. However, there is scattered legislation for the protection of biodiversity particularly that covering environmental protection, protection of wildlife and heritage sites, protection of forests and natural resources such as water catchments. In addition, laws governing registration and use of plant protection products also indirectly play a major role in the protection of pollinators Such legislation, together with market-based mechanisms such as the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) codes and practices may help to protect bees albeit incidentally. At the international level, the Conservation on Biological Diversity (CBD) is spearheading strategies to enforce bee management for pollination purposes within the member countries, which include Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Farmers should lobby their governments to develop Integrated Pest Management policies that would protect bees and other insects of importance in agriculture.

References

1. Eardley CD, Gikungu MW and Schwarz MP (2009) Bee conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa andMadagascar: diversity, status and threats. Apidologie, 40: 355–366.

2. Eardley CD, Kuhlmann M and Pauly A. (2010) The Bee Genera and Subgenera of sub-Saharan Africa. ABC Taxa vol 7: i-vi, 138 pp. http://www.abctaxa.be/volumes/vol-7-bees

3. Eardley CD and Urban R (2010) Catalogue of Afrotropical bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Apiformes). Zootaxa, 2455: 1–548.

4. Michener, C.D. (1975) A taxonomic study of African allodapine bees (Hymenoptera, Anthophoridae, Ceratinini). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 155, 67–240.

5. Michener CD (2007) The Bees of the world, the John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London , pp 913.

Editors

Théodore Munyuli, Busitema University - Uganda; Muo Kasina, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) - Kenya; Juma Lossini, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) – Tanzania; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat – UK; Connal Eardley, Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) – South Africa.

Acknowledgements

We recognise the support from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI)Tanzania and Busitema University (Faculty of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences) - Eastern Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).

Contact

BioNET-EAFRINET regional coordinator: [email protected]