Differential foraging of indigenous and exotic honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) races on nectar-rich flow in a subtropical ecosystem.
In the subtropics, agricultural activities such as beekeeping are greatly influenced by environmental challenges. In the desert of Central Arabia, honeybees forage on limited prairies that are affected by adverse weather conditions. Bee colonies reduce their field activities during extremely hot-dry-windy weather. This study investigated whether nectar-rich melliferous flora enhance the field activities of two honeybee subspecies, Apis mellifera jemenitica (indigenous) and A. m. carnica (exotic), despite the presence of severe weather conditions. The foraging and pollen-gathering activities of the two subspecies were evaluated on Acacia trees (Acacia gerrardii Benth.), a common subtropical, summery endemic bee plant, in the central desert of the Arabian Peninsula. The native colonies were significantly (p < 0.001) more active foragers than the exotic colonies (109 ± 4 and 49 ± 2 workers/colony/3 min, respectively). Similarly, the native colonies recruited significantly (p < 0.01) more active pollen-gathering bees than the imported colonies (22 ± 1 and 7 ± 1 workers/colony/3 min, respectively). Furthermore, far more food was collected by the indigenous colonies than by the exotic colonies, and a higher portion of all field trips was allocated to pollen gathering by the indigenous bees than by the imported bees. The nectar-rich Acacia trees reduced the negative effects of hot-dry-windy weather. More research on honeybee colonies operating in the subtropical conditions of Central Arabia is needed, especially regarding heat tolerance mechanisms and effects on queen and drone fertility.