The number of colonies in feral and managed honeybee populations (Apis mellifera) was determined for various sampling locations in Chiapas and Yucatan (Mexico) to assess the impact of apiculture on feral honeybee populations. We used a comparative sampling approach determining the number of colonies in similar habitats and landscapes but with different intensity of beekeeping. Sampling sites included nature reserves, and mango and shaded coffee plantations. The agricultural sites were all set in high-diversity landscapes with plenty of surrounding secondary forest. The number of colonies was determined by genotyping drones caught on drone congregation areas and assigning the drone genotypes to mother queens each heading a colony. We used three sets of linked markers each to achieve sufficient resolution for a precise colony assignment. The estimated colony numbers ranged from 34 to 54 colonies, with an average of 38.3 ± 6.9 colonies in areas with high and 43.5 ± 6.6 colonies in areas with low beekeeping activity. There was no significant difference in colony numbers between the sites with high and low beekeeping activity suggesting that the managed honeybee populations do not substantially add to the overall number of honeybee colonies supported in the wild. This might indicate that restrictions on apicultural activities to prevent any potential conservation conflict with native pollinators might not be useful, since honeybee colonies are very abundant in many different landscapes in Southern Mexico independent of apiculture.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science