Temporal Variation in Honey Production by the Stingless Bee Melipona subnitida (Hymenoptera: Apidae): Long-Term Management Reveals its Potential as a Commercial Species in Northeastern Brazil
Even though stingless beekeeping has a great potential as a sustainable development tool, the activity remains essentially informal, technical knowledge is scarce, and management practices lack the sophistication and standardization found in apiculture. Here, we contributed to the further development of stingless beekeeping by investigating the long-term impact of management and climate on honey production and colony survival in the stingless bee Melipona subnitida Ducke (1910). We analyzed a 10-yr record of 155 M. subnitida colonies kept by a commercial honey producer of northeastern Brazil. This constitutes the longest and most accurate record available for a stingless bee. We modeled honey production in relation to time (years), age, management practices (colony division and food supplementation), and climatic factors (temperature and precipitation), and used a model selection approach to identify which factors best explained honey production. We also modeled colony mortality in relation to climatic factors. Although the amount of honey produced by each colony decreased over time, we found that the probability of producing honey increased over the years. Colony divisions decreased honey production, but did not affect honey presence, while supplementary feeding positively affected honey production. In warmer years, the probability of producing honey decreased and the amount of honey produced was lower. In years with lower precipitation, fewer colonies produced honey. In contrast, colony mortality was not affected by climatic factors, and some colonies lived up to nine years, enduring extreme climatic conditions. Our findings provide useful guidelines to improve management and honey production in stingless bees.
Koffler, S., C. Menezes, P. R. Menezes, A. M. P. Kleinert, V. L. imperatriz Fonseca, N. Pope and R. Jaffé (2015). "Temporal Variation in Honey Production by the Stingless Bee Melipona subnitida (Hymenoptera: Apidae): Long-Term Management Reveals its Potential as a Commercial Species in Northeastern Brazil." Journal of Economic Entomology, published online. Doi: 10.1093/jee/tov055