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Impact of introduced honeybees, Apis mellifera, upon native bee communities in the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands


The Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands are oceanic islands located in the northwest Pacific, and have ten native (nine endemic) bee species, all of which are nonsocial. The European honeybee (Apis mellifera), which was introduced to the islands for apiculture in the 1880s, became naturalized in a few islands shortly after introduction. To detect the impact of the honeybees upon native bee diversity, we analyzed pollen harvest by honeybees and surveyed the relative abundance of honeybees and native bees on flowers on several islands. Both hived and feral honeybee colonies were active throughout the year, harvesting pollen of both native and alien flowers and from both entomophilous and anemophilous flowers. Honeybees strongly depended on the alien plants, especially during winter to spring when native melittophilous flowers were rare. From June to November, honeybees exhaustively utilized native flowers, which had originally been utilized and pollinated by native bees. On Chichi and Haha Islands, where human disturbance of forests has been severe, both native and alien flowers were dominated by honeybees, and native bees were rare or extinct even in well-conserved forests. In contrast, on Ani Island and Haha's satellite islands where primary forests were well conserved and honeybees were still uncommon or absent, native bees remained dominant. These results suggest that competition for nectar and pollen of the native flowers between honeybees and native bees favors honeybees on the disturbed islands, which are thoroughly invaded by alien nectariferous, sometimes aggressive, weedy plants.

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Received: May 8, 1998 / Accepted: May 6, 1999

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Kato, M., Shibata, A., Yasui, T. et al. Impact of introduced honeybees, Apis mellifera, upon native bee communities in the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands. Res Popul Ecol 41, 217–228 (1999).

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  • Key words Oceanic island
  • Bee community
  • Introduced honeybee
  • Invasion
  • Pollination
  • Bonin Islands