Pseudapis bees


Honey bees are not the only bee species that are significant for human wellbeing. Pseudapis 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. These ground-nesting bees live independently (i.e. they are solitary). 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: Halictidae

Subfamily: Nomiinae

Genus: Pseudapis Kirby, 1900

Species in the Genus

There are about 70 named species of Pseudapis bees known from different parts of the world, particularly from Africa, Europe,Australia and Asia.

Species in Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda

Twelve species of Pseudapis bee have been recorded in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda (Eardley and Urban 2010).


Pseudapis bees are not well known by local people (including farmers) inEast Africa. These insects are usually not recognised as bees by local people in East Africa, where the name bee is generally thought only to apply to honey bees.

Possible Causes of Confusion

Pseudapis bees are similar other species in the family Halictidae especially Nomia bees . They can be distinguished with Pseudapis bees having a large tegula (the scale covering base of fore-wing) and pale bands on the abdomen .

Distribution in Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda

Pseudapis bees occur in different agro-ecologies in East Africa. They can be found in all regions.


They will be found in all habitats as long as their nests foraging sites are protected. In absence of these, their existence in those regions is not guaranteed.


Pseudapis bees are solitary and prefer to nest in soils.

Crops Visited

There is not much information about crop pollination by Pseudapis bees. However, they have been reported as flower visitors of cashew, eggplants and crops belonging to Asteraceae (Compositae) family.

Other Plants Visited

Pseudapis bees have been reported to visit, the screw tree (Helicteres isora) and wild plants belonging to family Asteraceae.

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.


InEast Africa, Pseudapis 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. Pseudapis bee populations in East Africa are likely to be affected by pests and diseases but information on this subject is lacking. Trampling by people and livestock can affect these soil-nesting species. 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 indirectly play a major role in the protection of pollinators. Trampling by people and livestock and tilling should be managed to conserve the nesting sites of soil-nesting 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.


1. Atluri JB, Rao SP, and Reddi CS (2000) Pollination ecology of Helicteres isora Linn. (Sterculiaceae). Current Science 78 (6): 713-718

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.

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

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

5. Sundararaju D (2000) Foraging behaviour of pollinators on cashew. Cashew 14 (4): 17-20

6. Pauly, A. (1990) Classification des Nomiinae africains (Hymenoptera Apoidea Halictidae). Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale Tervuren, Belgique. Annales Sciences Zoologiques, 261, 1–206.


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.


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).


BioNET-EAFRINET regional coordinator: [email protected]