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Honey bees are essential for pollination of Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. paradoxa (Sapotaceae) in Burkina Faso

Abstract

Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) is an important fruit tree in West African parklands, and its successful pollination is a requirement for fruit production. Size-based pollinator exclusion experiments combined with visual observations showed that presence of honey bees (Apis mellifera jemenitica) was important for pollination and thereby the production of fruits and seeds. Smaller insects, mainly species of stingless bees (Hypotrigona spp. and Liotrigona cf. bottegoi) and solitary bees (Compsomelissa borneri) could partly compensate pollination in absence of honey bees, but fertilisation and fruit yield was reduced. A positive correlation between fertilisation percentage and number of honey bee colonies within radii of 900 and 1000 m was observed. The percentage of fertilisation and number of mature fruits per fascicle were higher in trees with colonies of stingless bees in the trunk when honey bees were excluded by bagging. We conclude that local beekeeping with honey bees and stingless bees is likely to have a positive influence on fruit production of shea trees in the farmed West African parklands, which speaks in favour of a pollinator friendly environment.

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Acknowledgments

First and foremost thanks to the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) for financing this study (see Funding). This research was done together with Centre National de Semences Forestières (CNSF) and the authors wish to thank the staff at CNSF for their cooperative spirit. We also thank Alassane Ouédraogo, Philbert Zoungrana, and Madi Tiemtose, for field assistance and the farmers in Pinyiri for allowing us to use their trees. Many thanks to Edith Daboue for measuring and germinating the seeds at CNSF in 2012. We are also very grateful to Claus Rasmussen, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark, for identifying and measuring samples of bees.

Funding

The present paper is part of a PhD study financed by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida, FFU) (Research Project No. 10-106-LIFE).

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Correspondence to Kristin Marie Lassen.

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Lassen, K.M., Nielsen, L.R., Lompo, D. et al. Honey bees are essential for pollination of Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. paradoxa (Sapotaceae) in Burkina Faso. Agroforest Syst 92, 23–34 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-016-0007-z

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Keywords

  • Agroforestry parklands
  • Honey bees
  • Pollination
  • Solitary bees
  • Stingless bees
  • Vitellaria paradoxa