Free access
Volume 40, Number 3, May-June 2009
Bee conservation
Page(s) 296 - 312
Published online 07 July 2009
Apidologie 40 (2009) 296-312
DOI: 10.1051/apido/2009021

Conservation of Asian honey bees

Benjamin P. Oldroyd1 and Piyamas Nanork2

1  Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Lab, School of Biological Sciences A12, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2  Department of Biology, Mahasarakham University, Mahasarakham, Thailand

Received 26 June 2008 – Revised 14 October 2008 – Accepted 29 October 2008 - Published online 7 July 2009

Abstract - East Asia is home to at least 9 indigenous species of honey bee. These bees are extremely valuable because they are key pollinators of about 1/3 of crop species, provide significant income to some of the world's poorest people, and are prey items for some endemic vertebrates. Furthermore, Southeast Asian Dipterocarp forests appear to be adapted to pollination by honey bees. Thus long-term decline in honey bee populations may lead to significant changes in the pollinator ecology of these forests, exacerbating the more direct effects of deforestation and wood harvesting on forest health. Although complete extinction of any honey bee species is seen as unlikely, local extinction is likely to occur across extensive areas. The most significant threats to local honey bee populations are deforestation and excessive hunting pressure. Conservation of East Asian honey bees requires immediate action to determine what rate of colony harvesting by honey hunters is sustainable. This requires information on the demography of hunted populations, particularly the intrinsic growth rates and the rates of harvest.

Key words: Apis / Conservation / Honey hunting / demography / sustainable harvest / pollination / dipterocarp forests

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2009