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What are stingless bees, and why and how to use them as crop pollinators? a review

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Abstract

The efficiency of insects as crop pollinators depends on their biological characteristics in relation to the crop and the environment in which they are needed. For glasshouse pollination in Japan, stingless bees are potentially promising pollinators for the following reasons: they are harmless to beekeepers and glasshouse workers, they visit a wide range of crops (polylecty), they are tolerant of high temperatures, they are active throughout the year, they can be transported easily, and they do not pose an environmental risk by escaping and invading natural habitats as they would not survive the Japanese winter. There are still, however, some limitations to using stingless bees in such areas, one of which lies in how to improve methods for propagating and maintaining the colonies throughout the year. To address this problem we suggest the development of a new type of hive box.
... usually uses its mouth to bite. This spesies of insect can be found in tropical and some subtropical climates 14 . ...
... Insect activity is also influenced by environmental factors, such as air temperature, humidity, and light intensity 14 . This is because insects are poikilothermic organisms, so their body temperature is much influenced by the temperature of their environment 20 . ...
Conference Paper
This research was conducted to determine the abundance of species, frequency and time of visit of pollinating insects in the honey pumpkin and sweet corn agroecosystems. The research was carried out at the Teaching and Research Farm and Plant Pest Laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture, Jambi University from November 2020 to February 2021. The method used was the exploratory survey method. Data collection was carried out by direct observation and insect collection using a sweeping net on several plant samples that had been systematically determined with a diagonal (X) pattern. Insect observations were carried out every day starting from 07.00-18.00 Western Indonesian Time (WIT) on 1 honey pumpkin plant and 1 sweet corn plant and observed again in the following weeks during the generative phase. The data obtained were analyzed quantitatively and graphed to compare each species of insect found. The results showed that there were 6 species of pollinating insects found in honey pumpkin and sweet corn: Vespa tropica (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), Vespa velutina (Hymenotrea: Vespidae), Apis cerana (Hymenoptera: Apidae), Apis dorsata (Hymenoptera: Apidae), Xylocopa latipes (Hymenoptera: Apidae), and Trigona sp (Hymenoptera: Apidae). The time of visit of pollinating insects indicates the specific time of visit, namely at 07:00-11:00 WIT on honey pumpkin plants and at 07:00-10:00 WIT on sweet corn plants. The highest frequency of insect visits was found in Apis cerana species with an average visit of 15.1 times on honey pumpkin flowers and 17 times on sweet corn flowers at 07:00-08:00 WIT.
... Stingless bees are highly eusocial bees which lack of functional sting and major visitor of flowering plants in tropics (Amano et al., 2000). They can be found throughout the tropical and subtropical parts of the world, such as Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and tropical America. ...
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It is a great privilege for us to present the authors and delegates of the conference with the proceedings of the inaugural International Conference on Food and Industrial Crops (ICFIC2022). We hope that you will find it informative, exciting and motivating. This version of e-proceeding contains a total of 28 papers submitted to the ICFIC2022 delivering the sustainable development of food and industrial crops in Malaysia and around the globe, concerning both crop-oriented and bio-based materials, which was held at The Waterfront Hotel, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia on 21st – 24th September 2022. This conference was one of the three concurrent international conferences under the umbrella of Congress on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security (COSAFS2022). The conference was jointly organised by the Faculty of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, Institute of Ecosystem Science Borneo, Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Sarawak Campus and Ministry of Food Industry, Commodity, and Regional Development Sarawak (M-FICORD). The conference under the COSAFS2022 aims to provide a platform to discuss and exchange knowledge between participants, promote and strengthen international and national collaborations in sustainable agriculture and food security as well as identifying and promoting smart agriculture solutions for the development of sustainable agriculture and food security. Hopefully, this event will also spark innovative ideas, and foster research relations or partnerships between the various institutions, corporate bodies, and communities. The conferences featured more than 300 participants including academicians, research scientists, policymakers, and officials from public and private sectors with thought-provoking keynote lectures, oral and poster presentations in the field of sustainable agriculture and food security. The editors hope that this publication of e-proceeding will provide the reader with a broad overview of the latest research, development, and innovations and that it will be a valuable reference source for further research all over the world. The editors would like to express their sincere appreciation and thanks to all the authors for their contributions to this publication. We would like to express our utmost gratitude and appreciation to all the reviewers for their constructive comments on the papers. Nonetheless, we would also like to extend our special thanks to the organising team of COSAFS2022 who have work hard to ensure the success of the congress. Thank you.
... The bigger the bee's body, the farther the flight distance. The bee Tetragonula sp, which is 5 cm, has a flight distance of about 600 m (Amano et al., 2000). According to Ruttner (1988), adaptation to environmental conditions reflects changes in the size of worker bees. ...
Article
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This study aimed to describe the morphometric characteristics of the worker bee Tetragonula clypearis in Salut Village, District Kayangan, North Lombok Regency. The research material used was worker bee Tetragonula clypearis taken from 40 stup in two livestock groups, namely 20 stup in the Harapan Keluarga group and 20 stup in the Tunas Muda group in Salut Village, Kayangan District, North Lombok Regency. Each stup took three samples of worker bees for morphometric analysis (n=120). Morphological characters were observed under a stereo microscope connected to an Optilab camera. The character of T. clypearis is the thorax is black and hairy, and there are six hair bands on the mesoscutum and dark brown tibia. Metasoma has a variety of colours, ranging from pale yellow with black stripes, yellow and black, and pale yellow. The morphometric measurements included body length, head width, wing length, genna width, second flagellomere diameter, and body weight. The results showed that the seven morphometric measurement variables of the worker bee Tetragonula clypearis did not show significant differences (P>0.05) in the two cultivation groups. The value of the diversity coefficient <15% indicates that the morphometrics of the worker bee Tetragonula clypearis is uniform in both cultivation groups in Salut Village, District, Kayangan, North Lombok Regency.
... In the past two decades, research on stingless bees has received increased interest as crop pollinators (Heard 1999;Amano et al. 2000;Slaa et al. 2000Slaa et al. , 2006Kremen et al. 2002Kremen et al. , 2004Nunes-Silva et al. 2013;Barbosa et al. 2015). Stingless bees are known to pollinate several crops and in some cases the pollination service offered by stingless bees is more efficient than the one performed by honey bees (Cruz et al. 2005;Dos Santos et al. 2009). ...
Article
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Bees play a vital role as pollinators worldwide and have influenced how flower colour signals have evolved. The Western honey bee, Apis mellifera (Apini), and the Buff-tailed bumble bee, Bombus terrestris (Bombini) are well-studied model species with regard to their sensory physiology and pollination capacity, although currently far less is known about stingless bees (Meliponini) that are common in pantropical regions. We conducted comparative experiments with two highly eusocial bee species, the Western honey bee, A. mellifera, and the Australian stingless bee, Tetragonula carbonaria, to understand their colour preferences considering fine-scaled stimuli specifically designed for testing bee colour vision. We employed stimuli made of pigment powders to allow manipulation of single colour parameters including spectral purity (saturation) or colour intensity (brightness) of a blue colour (hue) for which both species have previously shown innate preferences. Both A. mel-lifera and T. carbonaria demonstrated a significant preference for spectrally purer colour stimuli, although this preference is more pronounced in honey bees than in stingless bees. When all other colour cues were tightly controlled, honey bees receiving absolute conditioning demonstrated a capacity to learn a high-intensity stimulus significant from chance expectation demonstrating some capacity of plasticity for this dimension of colour perception. However, honey bees failed to learn low-intensity stimuli, and T. carbonaria was insensitive to stimulus intensity as a cue. These comparative findings suggest that there may be some common roots underpinning colour perception in bee pollinators and how they interact with flowers, although species-specific differences do exist.
... Their returning activities to nest carried water, nectar, pollen, or resin, whereas leaving activities carried or without garbage. The foraging activity of stingless bee is affected by environmental parameters, such as in T. laeviceps occurred at temperatures 26-34 o C (Amano et al., 2000) and at humidity 48-98% (Ferreira et al., 2010). Foraging activity of T. laeviceps positively correlated with temperature and light intensity, and negatively correlated with humidity (Wati, 2013). ...
Article
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Stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponinae) are eusocial insects that distributed in the tropics and subtropics. Stingless bees are pollinators for various plant species. Foraging activities of worker stingless bees collect pollens, nectar, resin or water as nutrients for individuals and colony needed. This study aimed to measures pollen load and pollen composition carried by four species of stingless bees, i.e., Tetragonula laeviceps, Lepidotrigona terminata, Heterotrigona itama, and Geniotrigona thoracica in urban area at Bogor, Indonesia. Acetolysis method was used for pollens preparation and pollens were counted by using hemacytometer under light microscope embedded with camera. The study showed that the highest pollen load occurred in H. itama (59181 pollen grains), followed by L. terminata (27806 pollen grains), T. laeviceps (20816 pollen grains), and G. thoracica (11775 pollen grains). The number of pollens collected by T. laeviceps, L. terminata, and H. itama positively correlated with body size. Thirteen types of pollen were identified on the body of stingless bees. Pollen composition collected by T. laeviceps were dominated by Chlorantaceae (50%) and Polygonaceae (20%), L. terminata and H. itama were dominated by Asteraceae (70.19% and 62.76%) and Arecaceae (22.87% and 29.65%), while in G. thoracica was dominated by Apocynaceae (53.53%) and Acanthaceae (34.32%). Lepidotrigona terminata and H. itama carried of small pollen-size and G. thoracica carried moderate pollen-size.
... Stingless bees comprise the most diverse group of all eusocial bee species (Ascher & Pickering, 2020;Ayala et al., 2013;Michener, 2013); they occur in perennial colonies that range from several dozens to thousands of workers (Mel endez-Ramirez et al., 2013). To preserve the cohesion of the colony, stingless bees (Hymenoptera, Meliponini) have developed highly complex behavioural and physiological traits, like temporal polyethism and reproductive specialisation (Amano et al., 2000;Michener, 2013). Reproductive males only serve to provide a way to disperse genes and reduce the effect of inbreeding, unless they stay in their colony (Cameron et al., 2004). ...
Article
Information exchange and nestmate recognition among workers of highly social insects are tasks that usually involve cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). Many studies in stingless bees have shown that CHCs carry information about nest origin, age, caste, sex, reproductive status, and their function in the colony. Thus, in this work, we characterised the CHC composition of queens, gynes, drones, and workers of Melipona solani by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Any possible age-related difference was investigated by analysing the CHC profile of workers of different ages. We found quantitative and qualitative differences in the CHC composition between castes (workers and queens), and among drones, gynes, and queens. Similarly, polyethism (age of workers) correlated with CHCs, which allowed the separation of three groups: (i) foragers/guards; (ii) nurses; and (iii) larvae, pupae, and recently emerged workers. We discuss the possible function of these compounds in the stingless bees' recognition interactions. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Stingless bees are a diverse monophyletic taxon, including some 60 genera with more than 500 species, and exhibit a pantropical and pansubtropical distribution (Rasmussen and Cameron 2010). Many stingless bee species forage throughout the year and some exhibit flower consistency as generalist pollinators (Slaa et al. 2006), indicating the potential to act as essential pollinators of economic plants (Amano et al. 2000;Bispo dos Santos et al. 2009;Heard 1988Heard , 1994Kakutani et al. 1993). Similar to honeybees, quantitative abilities could play a role for stingless bees in foraging contexts, e.g., to discriminate a larger patch of flowers from a smaller patch and keep track of numbers of landmarks to relocate a food source or the hive. ...
Article
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Quantitative information is omnipresent in the world and a wide range of species has been shown to use quantities to optimize their decisions. While most studies have focused on vertebrates, a growing body of research demonstrates that also insects such as honeybees possess basic quantitative abilities that might aid them in finding profitable flower patches. However, it remains unclear if for insects, quantity is a salient feature relative to other stimulus dimensions, or if it is only used as a “last resort” strategy in case other stimulus dimensions are inconclusive. Here, we tested the stingless bee Trigona fuscipennis , a species representative of a vastly understudied group of tropical pollinators, in a quantity discrimination task. In four experiments, we trained wild, free-flying bees on stimuli that depicted either one or four elements. Subsequently, bees were confronted with a choice between stimuli that matched the training stimulus either in terms of quantity or another stimulus dimension. We found that bees were able to discriminate between the two quantities, but performance differed depending on which quantity was rewarded. Furthermore, quantity was more salient than was shape. However, quantity did not measurably influence the bees' decisions when contrasted with color or surface area. Our results demonstrate that just as honeybees, small-brained stingless bees also possess basic quantitative abilities. Moreover, invertebrate pollinators seem to utilize quantity not only as "last resort" but as a salient stimulus dimension. Our study contributes to the growing body of knowledge on quantitative cognition in invertebrate species and adds to our understanding of the evolution of numerical cognition.
... Environmental parameters affect the foraging activity of A. cerana (Faheem et al., 2004). The foraging activities of honey bees are high in a temperature range of 26-34 ℃ (Amano et al., 2000). Apis cerana is a social insect with hundreds to thousands of individuals in the colony. ...
Article
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Salacca (Salacca spp.) is a dioecious plant with male and female flowers existing on a different plant, therefore requires agents of pollination. More than thirty cultivars of salacca are found in Indonesia. This research aimed to study the diversity of visiting insects on the three varieties of salacca, i.e., Pondoh, Mawar and Kalimantan in Indonesia, as well measuring the pollen load on the pollinators. The visiting insects were observed on the male flowers using the fix sample method in ten minutes for fifteen days. Results showed that nine insect species visited the flowers and three species were potential pollinators, i.e., Nodocnemis sp., Apis cerana and Tetragonula laeviceps. The highest diversity of visiting insects was found in Kalimantan salacca (H' = 1.31, E = 0.74) followed by Pondoh salacca (H' = 0.72, E = 0.23) and Mawar salacca (H' = 0.51, E = 0.19). There was no dominant species found in Kalimantan salacca. The high similarity of visiting insects was found in Pondoh-Mawar salacca (SN = 0.59). Furthermore, the pollen load on Nodocnemis sp., A. cerana and T. laeviceps were about 127, 7893, and 4228 pollen grains, respectively.
... Dimana semakin tinggi suhu maka kunjungan E. kamerunicus semakin rendah. Hal yang sama juga ditemukan pada serangga lain, seperti yang dilaporkan Amano et al., (2000) melaporkan bahwa lebah madu melakukan aktivitas mencari pakan pada kisaran suhu 26-34°C. Ditambahkan Barth (1991) melaporkan bahwa rentang suhu ini juga merupakan kondisi untuk koloni lebah dapat beraktivitas dan berkembang dengan baik. ...
Article
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Elaeidobius kamerunicus adalah kumbang polinator efektif pada tanaman kelapa sawit. Keberadaan kumbang penyerbuk kelapa sawit di perkebunan sangat diperlukan dalam meningkatkan pembentukan buah untuk menjamin kelangsungan penyerbukan pada kelapa sawit, sehingga diperlukan kumbang dengan jumlah optimum. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mempelajari kelimpahan populasi, frekuensi kunjungan dan efektivitas E. kamerunicus serta hubungannya dengan produksi pada beberapa varietas kelapa sawit. Penelitian ini dilakukan di Nagari Gunung Selasih, Sungai Dareh dan IV Koto Kecamatan Pulau Punjung Kabupaten Dharmasraya dengan menggunakan varietas DxP Simalungun dan DxP Dumpy, metode yang digunakan adalah metode survei yang terdiri dari lima tahap yaitu penentuan lokasi dan tanaman sampel, pengamatan kelimpahan E. kamerunicus, pengamatan frekuensi kunjungan E. kamerunicus, pengukuran efektivitas E. kamerunicus dan analisis data. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa kelimpahan populasi perhektar mencukupi untuk proses penyerbukan, dan frekuensi kunjungan tertinggi pada bulan Oktober dan terendah bulan November, kelimpahan populasi dan frekuensi kunjungan berbanding lurus dengan rata-rata efektivitas penyerbukan yaitu 75%, sehingga kondisi seperti ini harus dipertahankan. Abstract Elaeidobius kamerunicus is an effective polinator beetle on oil palm crops. The presence of oil palm pollinating beetles in plantations is indispensable in enhancing fruit formation to ensure continuous pollination of oil palm, so we need the beetle with the optimal amount. This study aimed to study population abundance, visit frequency and effectiveness of E. kamerunicus and its relation to production in some oil palm varieties. This research was conducted in Nagari Gunung Selasih, Sungai Dareh and IV Koto Pulau Punjung Sub-districts Dharmasraya Regency by using DxP Simalungun and DxP Dumpy varieties. The method was a survey method consisting of five stages namely the determination of the location and plants sample, observation abundance of E. kamerunicus, observation visiting frequency E. kamerunicus, measurement effectiveness of E. kamerunicus and data analysis. The results showed that population abundance per hectare is sufficient for pollination process and the highest visiting frequency in October and the lowest in November, abundance population and visiting frequency were directly proportional to the average effectiveness of pollination 75%, so conditions like this must be maintained.
... The stingless bees are the most common group of native bees found on the American continent. Due to the large number of species with marked morphological and functional diversities and feeding habits, these bees have become excellent pollinators of wild native flora and have recently attracted interest in agricultural pollination (Kakutani et al., 1993;Kerr, 1996;Nogueira-Neto, 1997;Amano et al., 2000;Slaa et al., 2006;Bomfim et al., 2015). However, studies within this group of bees have been concentrated on medium and large species of the genera Melipona, Scaptotrigona and Trigona. ...
Article
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Bees are prolific pollinators and are responsible for the pollination of most wild and cultivated plants. This study aimed to learn about the flight activity of the stingless bee Plebeia aff. flavocincta in tropical conditions as a parameter to evaluate the general state of the colonies, and to investigate the role of food resources and environmental factors in their flight activities. We recorded the worker flight activity (exit, when they leave the hive; trash, when they discard litter; entry with pollen; and entry without pollen) of four colonies throughout the year and monitored biotic and abiotic conditions that could affect the bee´s external activities, such as blooming and meteorological conditions. Results showed that the colonies remained active throughout the year and presented two major periods of external activity; one corresponding to the greater food supply in the field, and the other to time of the year when there were few food resources available. Also, the four flight activities were all strongly correlated with each other. We concluded that in tropical conditions, external activities of P. aff. flavocincta are regulated mainly due to the food resources available rather than the prevailing weather conditions and they are an important indicator of the general health of the colony.
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Temporal patterns of flight activity and influence of climatic variables on activity of colonies of the potentially useful crop pollinator, Trigona carbonaria Smith, were investigated. Colonies of T. carbonaria were active all the year at the experimental site but the daily activity period was longer in the warmer months. Intensity of daily flight activity was greatest in September and least in May. Temperature and radiation were the most important variables affecting flight activity. They impose thresholds on activity, with flight occurring only at temperatures greater than 18-degrees-C and radiation greater than 15 W m-2. Temperature and radiation also influence the intensity of activity above the thresholds. Relative humidity, vapour pressure, cloud cover and wind speed had no significant effect. A variable measuring the hours from daily peak of activity was significantly correlated with flight activity, indicating an intrinsic diel pattern of activity. Daily variation in flight activity, representing the influence of unmeasured variables, was also significant.
Article
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Stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) are common visitors to flowering plants in the tropics, but evidence for their importance and effectiveness as crop pollinators is lacking for most plant species. They are known to visit the flowers of approximately 90 crop species. They were confirmed to be effective and important pollinators of 9 species. They may make a contribution to the pollination of approximately 60 other species, but there is insufficient information to determine their overall effectiveness or importance. They have been recorded from another 20 crops, but other evidence suggests that they do not have an important role because these plants are pollinated by other means. The strengths and limitations of stingless bees as crop pollinators are discussed. Aspects of their biology that impact on their potential for crop pollination are reviewed, including generalized flower visiting behavior of colonies, floral constancy of individual bees, flight range, and the importance of natural vegetation for maintaining local populations.
Article
The effects of supplementary pollination on initial and final nut set and nut weight of theMacadamiacultivars, ‘Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station 246’ and ‘Hidden Valley A4’, were assessed over 3 years at an orchard in eastern Australia. The final nut sets of racemes bagged to exclude insect pollinators were low in all 3 years of the study for both cultivars. This demonstrated the importance of exposure to insect visitors to increase nut set of these cultivars. However, the improved initial nut set by supplementary cross pollination of 246 in all 3 years of the study showed that insect pollination is inefficient compared to hand pollination. Furthermore, supplementary cross pollination of 246 increased final nut set by 57–97% in 1989 and increased nut weight by 15.0% and kernel weight by 20.0% in 1991. Cross pollination of A4 did not result in any consistent pattern of initial nut set and did not improve final nut set, but increased nut weight by 11.6% and kernel weight by 18.4%, with a higher percentage kernel recovery in 1991. In addition, supplementary self pollination of A4 increased nut sets in both 1989 and 1990. Yield and quality of both cultivars may benefit from increasing pollen transfer in the orchard.
Article
Using the approach of Mahalanobis it was desclosed that workers ofMelipona quadrifasciata are, as far as the external morphology is concerned, closer to males than to queens of this species. A preliminary interpretation of this is given based in a slight modification of theBritten andDavidson hypothesis (batteries of genes) applied to the sex determination system of these bees. There are two sets of sex genes: one set that acts in the embryo and determines ovary or testis and another that acts in the prepupal stage determining the transformation of the imaginal discs and tegument in adult female or adult male structures. A preliminary hypothesis for gene regulation is proposed for both sets. The mode of action of the second set implies that a substance produced by food above a given limit acts on the integrator genesx a andx b (with two alleles each) and these put a receptor gene (Rxa+xb) into action that by its turn, put into action the gene (or genes) for femaleness;Melipona workers are females inside (have ovaries) but are almost males in the outside, tegument, eyes, wings). The place of action of the juvenile hormone in this battery has not yet been experimentally determined, but this working hypothesis put it provisorily in the beginning of the battery.
Article
Sounds are an important part of the communication behavior, the so-called dances, of the honey bee. Stingless bees, which do not use dances for communication, use sound signals to indicate the existence and, in some cases, the distance of a feeding place. The social organization of communities of stingless bees is more primitive than that of honey bees, yet certain commonfeatures of communication behavior in these two groups lead to a new hypothesis of the evolution of dancing behavior of the honey bee.