Foraging behavior of stingless bee Meliponula Bocandei (Apidae) at Rwebitaba Zardi, Kabarole District
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Stingless bees are social bees which lack a functional sting and are sometimes called stingless honey bees or simply meliponines. It is important to note that they occur in perennial colonies and about 500 species inhabit the world’s tropical and subtropical climates. The development of stingless bees for sustaining human livelihood is new and almost non-existence despite their presence in some African countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana. Stingless bees exhibit several foraging behavioral changes due to temperature and day light intensity among other factors. Forager bees are helpful in inducing pollination in plant e.g. coffee. The use of stingless bees as pollinators is possible since they are usually active anytime of the year, they can visit a wide variety of plants, and they can be domesticated. This study aimed at determining the foraging behavior of stingless bees was conducted at Rwebitaba ZARDI meliponary with 12 prototypes for colonized bee hives of Melipona bocandei. Data was collected once a week (morning, midday and afternoon) for a period of 8 months and for every sampling session, two sets of data was taken. Data was collected on the following parameters; (a) date, (b) time, (c) hive identity, (d) exiting bees, (e)returning with pollen, (f) returning with resin, (g) returning without, (h) total in coming, (i) temperature (C°) (j) humidity (%), (k) light intensity/ Lux. Results show that stingless bees exiting the hives were significantly influenced by humidity. Humidity and light influenced stingless bees returning with pollen. Light intensity significantly influenced stingless bees returning with resin. Stingless bees returning without resin or pollen were influenced by temperature. The total incoming stingless bees were all greatly influenced by all the three weather conditions (temperature, humidity and light intensity). In conclusion; weather factors influence foraging activities of stingless bees and these bees are most active in the afternoon.