Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 647–658 | Cite as

Local and landscape effects on bee functional guilds in pigeon pea crops in Kenya

  • Mark OtienoEmail author
  • C. Sheena Sidhu
  • Ben A. Woodcock
  • Andrew Wilby
  • Ioannis N. Vogiatzakis
  • Alice L. Mauchline
  • Mary W. Gikungu
  • Simon G. Potts


Pollinators face many challenges within agricultural systems due to landscape changes and intensification which can affect resource availability that can impact pollination services. This paper examines pigeon pea pollination and considers how landscape context and agricultural intensification in terms of pesticide use affects the abundance of bees characterized by species guilds on crops. The study was conducted on six paired farms across a gradient of habitat complexity based on the distance of each farm from adjacent semi-natural vegetation in Kibwezi Sub-county, Kenya. The study found that farms which do not use insecticides in farm management, but are in close proximity to natural habitat have greater bee guild abundance, but at further distances, overall abundance is reduced with or without insecticide use. At 1 km landscape radius, the complexity of habitats but not patch size had a positive impact on the abundance of cavity nesting bees and mason bees, which can be attributed to the interspersion of the small-holder farms with semi-natural habitats across the landscapes producing mosaics of heterogeneous habitats. The study revealed the strongest relationships between fruit set and bee abundance to be with the carpenter bee, social bee and solitary bee guilds, which are among the most abundant bees visiting pigeon pea flowers in this system. Our findings provide the foundation for conservation efforts by identifying which bee guilds pollinated pigeon peas. From this study, we suggest managing the floral and nesting resources that would best support the most abundant crop pollinators, and also reducing insecticide application to the crop.


Functional group Landscape effects Pesticide Semi-native Species guild Tropical agroecosystems 



We are greatly indebted to the Felix Trust for funding this study through a Ph.D. scholarship at the University of Reading. We thank Mr. K. Wambua for his tremendous support with field work. Many thanks to Dr. C. Eardley and Prof. L. Packer for their great help with bee identification. Finally, we thank all the support from the National Museums of Kenya and the farmers of Kibwezi.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Otieno
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Sheena Sidhu
    • 2
  • Ben A. Woodcock
    • 3
  • Andrew Wilby
    • 4
  • Ioannis N. Vogiatzakis
    • 5
  • Alice L. Mauchline
    • 6
  • Mary W. Gikungu
    • 7
  • Simon G. Potts
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Resource ManagementEmbu University CollegeEmbuKenya
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA
  3. 3.NERC Centre for Ecology and HydrologyWallingfordUK
  4. 4.Lancaster Environment CentreUniversity of LancasterLancasterUK
  5. 5.School of Pure and Applied SciencesOpen University of CyprusNicosiaCyprus
  6. 6.Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, School of Agriculture, Policy and DevelopmentUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  7. 7.Zoology DepartmentNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya

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