student profile: Mr Francisco Garcia Bulle Bueno


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Native bees as alternative crop pollinators: reproductive behaviour of Tetragonula carbonaria.

Supervisors: Rosalyn GLOAG , Tanya LATTY

Thesis abstract:

Bee pollination is essential for a wide variety of vegetables and fruit crops worldwide. The security of these food crops rests largely with a single pollinator: The Western honey bee (Apis mellifera). In recent years, however, global instability in honey bee populations has led to calls to diversify the world’s pollination services by enlisting other bee species as alternative pollinators. The stingless bees (Meliponini) are top candidates for this role. Like honey bees, they have the capacity to pollinate many tropical fruits, are highly eusocial, and can be managed and propagated in wooden hives. Plus, they have a large native distribution covering the tropics and subtropics of the world, including Australia. The benefit from their pollination services to relevant orchards can be achieved both by encouraging the presence of naturally-occurring colonies and by introducing and transporting hived colonies to desired areas. Knowledge of how to maintain these bees in agricultural landscapes will have substantial benefits for their conservation in the wild, where they provide key ecosystem services. A critical first step to begin utilising these bees as crop pollinators is to advance the understanding of the reproductive and foraging biology of Tetragonula carbonaria. To do this I will divide my thesis into three different parts: (i) I will study the male’s mating and aggregating behavior to develop a protocol for estimating the density and the distribution of stingless bee populations in the wild, (ii) I will improve techniques for propagating hives, and (iii) I will evaluate inter-colony aggression in the context of orchard hive aggregations. Together, these objectives will bring us closer to the goal of utilizing stingless bees as alternative crop pollinators in Australia.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.