Nesting biology of equatorial Afrotropical stingless bees (Apidae; Meliponini) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
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An inter-specific nesting biology of highly eusocial stingless bees (meliponini) was studied in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, south-western Uganda. Fieldwork was guided by Batwa Pygmies who are the local indigenous honey-hunters residing around the park. During the fieldwork, stingless bees were identified according to local Pygmy folk taxonomy. A total of 538 natural nests of five stingless bee species belonging to two genera were found: Meliponula (four species) and Hypotrigona (one). Two morphs of M. ferruginea (6 mm) were identified, which previously were called M. erythra but now are regarded species synonyms. The bees nested in tree cavities,mud house wall crevices and underground. There were no exposed nests. Trees contained nests of the bigger bee species. A broad range of trees (133 trees of 36 species) was used as nesting sites. H. gribodoi only nested in mud house wall crevices. Meliponula bocandei and Meliponula lendiliana nested both in tree cavities and in the ground thus exhibiting high degree of flexibility which can ultimately lead to better survival of these two species. There was some degree of nest tree height partitioning with bigger bees selecting higher heights. Tree selection by bee species not only depended on tree availability but also on size of the bee. Most bee nests were situated in large trees.