Date of Award

1995

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

First Advisor

Dr Pierre Horwitz

Abstract

The Honeybee (Apis mellifcra) is arguably Australia's most abundant feral animal, and relatively little is known about its interactions with the Australian biota. A lack of such information makes it difficult for the managers of nature conservation areas to decide whether beekeeping is appropriate and whether attempts should be made to control feral bees. This study made observations of feral honeybees and native pollinating invertebrates for one hundred and twelve hours, at fifteen sites in Banksia woodland, between July 27 and September 10, 1995. Flowering and preflowering invertebrate assemblages of Leucopogon polymorphus, an epacrid shrub which provided the focus of the study, were also documented. Although the number of bees seen was generally low, there is evidence to suggest that activity was concentrated on just eight species of plants. Pollen foraging activity was further concentrated temporally, because not all the species used flowered at the same time. Despite a high degree of floristic uniformity within the study area, honeybee and other invertebrate activity was concentrated at some sites due to a number of site characteristics. The concentration was reinforced by the fact that favourable weather conditions influenced both the numbers of honeybees and native invertebrates seen. This apparent temporal and spatial pattern of concentrated activity was reflected in the numbers of developing seeds of Leucopogon polymorphus. Flowering invertebrate assemblages were, relative to the pre-flowering assemblages, highly variable. However, there were no definitive links between this variability and aspects of the other data. It was concluded that temporal and spatial concentration of invertebrate activity is likely to make resource competition or aggressive displacement of native pollinators more likely. The discussion focuses upon possible consequences of concentrated honeybee activity upon the pollination regimes of heavily utilised plants. The implications for the management of nature conservation areas are highlighted in the light of this discussion.

Included in

Entomology Commons

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