Foraging strategies of honeybees in pollinating apple flowers and its variation with altitude in Kullu hills of western Himalaya, India
VK Mattu, Thakur Bhagat
Foraging strategies of honeybees in terms of foraging time, flight activity patterns, foraging speed and rate, duration of a foraging trip etc., were studied by placing two colonies each of Indian hive bee Apis cerana and Europian bee Apis mellifera in apple orchards located at Bhalogi (1400 m), Baskhola (1580 m) and Dhamadhar (1810 m) areas of Kullu hills of Western Himalaya. The results revealed that A. cerana foraged for significantly longer time and visited more flowers per minute than A. mellifera, however, A. mellifera took greater time for completing a single forging trip and spent significantly more time per flower than A. cerana. Peak foraging activity for A. cerana occurred at 1000 to 1300 hours and it was between 1200 to 1500 hours for A. mellifera. By placing both the species of honeybees in the same orchard, the duration of peak activity can be prolong and better pollination obtained. Interspecific comparison between A. cerana and A. mellifera showed no significant differences with regard to top as well as side workers. These two species of honeybees preferred middle than top and lower branches of apple trees. Present results suggest that altitudinal variation affect the timings of commencement and cessation of foraging activity, duration of foraging activity, number of flowers visited per minute and duration of foraging trip however, it did not affect the peak hours of foraging for A. cerana and A. mellifera.