Honeybees of Asia

pp 215-225


Honeybees in Natural Ecosystems

  • Richard T. CorlettAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore Email author 

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This chapter presents an overview of the role of Asian honeybees in non-agricultural situations. The medium and large Apis species concentrate on the most rewarding resources, recruiting rapidly and in large numbers to mass-flowering trees or large stands of smaller plants. In contrast, the small species are rarely reported as the dominant visitors to wild plants. Asian honeybees visit mostly pale-coloured flowers with easily accessible nectar and/or pollen, and obtain a significant proportion of floral resources in circumstances that make pollination improbable or impossible. Overall, honeybees appear to be relatively unimportant as pollinators in most Asian forests, except for the tropical rainforest canopy, where A. dorsata in particular is a major pollinator of mass-following species, especially those that do not flower every year. Honeybees are relatively more important in deforested areas and on crops. Apis dorsata appears to have a unique and irreplaceable role in the ecology of tropical Asia but is currently threatened by deforestation and honey-hunters.