The forests in Europe provide habitat for around 80,000 colonies of wild honeybees. That is why more attention should be paid to preserving the nesting sites for these threatened insects, according to researchers.
Wild populations of the western honeybee Apis mellifera were widely assumed as extinct in Europe. “However, recent fieldwork studies reveal that wild honeybees still exist in forests: Their colonies mainly nest in tree cavities,” says Dr. Fabrice Requier from the Biocenter of Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany.
So far, wild honeybees have only been observed in northern Poland and Germany (the Hainich forest and the Biosphere Reserve Swabian Alb). Research groups from Germany, France, Italy, and the Czech Republic, led by the JMU, have now asked themselves where there might be other suitable habitats in Europe.
The four teams analysed the tree cavity densities of 106 forest areas across Europe and inferred for the first time an expected population size of estimated 80,000 wild honeybee colonies in European forests. This is reported in the journal Conservation Letters. MORE
Header image: Dimi Dumortier.