Minimal effect of honey beehive fences on native bee diversity and abundance at the farm scale during the dry season in southern Kenya
Beehive fences are an effective solution to resolve conflicts between humans and crop-raiding elephants in Kenya. They produce win-win scenarios; elephants are protected from aggression from humans as they are deterred from crop raiding, while farmers benefit from crop protection, pollination, and valuable products from maintaining honeybee hives. However, artificially increasing the density of these super-generalist pollinators in the landscape may impact wild bee species as honeybees may out-compete them for floral resources. We studied bee communities in Sagalla, Kenya, where beehive fences have been implemented for crop protection for many years. Despite the long-term presence of the beehive fences, honeybee densities were low when the study was conducted because of a severe drought and did not differ between beehive and control fences in our collections. When we compared farms with and without beehive fences, we found little difference in the abundance, species richness, and community composition of the resident wild bee communities. This suggests either (a) beehive fences have little permanent impact on wild bee communities, or (b) wild bee communities recover quickly when honeybee densities are low.
KeywordsAgroecosystems Bee communities Beehive fences Honeybees Human-wildlife conflict
We thank the farmers who allowed us to collect bees on their land, without whom this study would not have been possible: P. Mwakio, F. Malandi, B. Njaka, A. Mwambanga, J. Kakongo, N. Wabongo, H. Njaka, K.K. Ngelo, and C. Wauda. We also thank the researchers and staff at the Save the Elephants’ Elephants and Bees Research Center, who were essential assistants on the project: E. Mwambingu, G. Mugo, E. Ruto, G. Troup, T. Tindall, S. Weinmann, H. Nzumu, and K. Zakeer. We also thank the taxonomists who gave us assistance during this project, including C. Eardley, L. Packer, D. Martins, and M. Gikungu.
L.K. conceived of and established the beehive fences and collaborated with farmers. L.K. and L.R. conceived of the study. L.R. and E.S. collected the data. L.R. analyzed the data and wrote the first draft. All authors read and contributed significantly to revisions.
LR was funded on NSF grant #DMS-1313115 and a Marie Curie Independent Fellowship FOMN 705287.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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