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Foto på Liam Kendall, anställd på CEC

Liam Kendall


Foto på Liam Kendall, anställd på CEC

Stingless bee floral visitation in the global tropics and subtropics


  • Francisco Garcia Bulle Bueno
  • Liam Kendall
  • Denise Araujo Alves
  • Manuel Lequerica Tamara
  • Tim Heard
  • Tanya Latty
  • Rosalyn Gloag

Summary, in English

Bees play a key role in maintaining healthy terrestrial ecosystems by pollinating plants. Stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) are a diverse clade of social bees (>500 species) with a pantropical distribution spanning South and Central America, Africa, India, Australia and Asia. They are garnering increasing attention as commercially-beneficial pollinators of some crops, yet their contribution to the pollination of native plants in the tropics and subtropics remains poorly understood. Here we conduct a global review of the plants visited by stingless bees. We compile a database of reported associations (flower visits) between stingless bees and plants, from studies that have made either direct observations of foraging bees or analysed the pollen stored in nests. Worldwide, we find stingless bees have been reported to visit the flowers of plants from at least 221 different families and 1476 genera, with frequently reported interactions for many of the tropic's most species-diverse plant families including Fabaceae, Asteraceae, Rubiaceae, Malvaceae, Lamiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Arecaceae, Poaceae, Apocynaceae and Melastomataceae. The list of commonly-visited plant families was similar for the stingless bee fauna of each of three major biogeographic regions (Neotropical, Afrotropical and Indo-Malayan-Australasian), though we detected differences in the proportional use of plant families by the stingless bees of the Indo-Malayan-Australasian and Neotropical regions, likely reflecting differences in the available flora of those regions. Stingless bees in all regions visit a range of exotic species in their preferred plant families (crops, ornamental plants and weeds), in addition to native plants. Although most reports of floral visitation on wild plants do not confirm effective pollen transfer, it is likely that stingless bees make at least some contribution to pollination for the majority of plants they visit. In all, our database supports the view that stingless bees play an important role in the ecosystems of the global tropics and subtropics as pollinators of an exceptionally large and diverse number of plants. This database also highlights important gaps in our knowledge of stingless bee resource use that may help focus future research efforts.


  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Centrum för miljö- och klimatvetenskap (CEC)






Global Ecology and Conservation




Artikel i tidskrift




  • Ecology


  • Flowers
  • Meliponini
  • Pollination




  • ISSN: 2351-9894