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Forskningsartikel2024Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Decline in Honeybees and Its Consequences for Beekeepers and Crop Pollination in Western Nepal

Kortsch, Susanne; Timberlake, Thomas P.; Cirtwill, Alyssa R.; Sapkota, Sujan; Rokoya, Manish; Devkota, Kedar; Roslin, Tomas; Memmott, Jane; Saville, Naomi


Simple Summary: Beekeeping provides numerous economic, cultural, and crop pollination benefits to communities around the world, including in Nepal, where traditional beekeeping has been practiced for centuries. Anecdotal reports suggest that the native Asian honeybee Apis cerana is declining across Asia, but few studies have measured the extent of these declines or their implications for beekeepers and farmers. Working in the Jumla District of Western Nepal, our aims were to investigate population trends of the native honeybee Apis cerana cerana and assess its importance for livelihoods and crop pollination. Interviews with 116 local beekeepers revealed a 44% decline in the number of occupied beehives and a 50% decline in honey production per hive from the years 2012 to 2022. Beekeepers reported climatic changes and the loss of flowers as the main drivers of this decline. These declines pose a major threat to local communities, as sales of honey contribute 16% of total household income for beekeepers, and Apis cerana cerana is a key pollinator of many important crops. Our study provides a warning signal of potential declines in all insect pollinators across the region and calls for actions by farmers, beekeepers, researchers and policy-makers to work together in addressing this socio-ecological crisis. In understudied regions of the world, beekeeper records can provide valuable insights into changes in pollinator population trends. We conducted a questionnaire survey of 116 beekeepers in a mountainous area of Western Nepal, where the native honeybee Apis cerana cerana is kept as a managed bee. We complemented the survey with field data on insect-crop visitation, a household income survey, and an interview with a local lead beekeeper. In total, 76% of beekeepers reported declines in honeybees, while 86% and 78% reported declines in honey yield and number of beehives, respectively. Honey yield per hive fell by 50% between 2012 and 2022, whilst the number of occupied hives decreased by 44%. Beekeepers ranked climate change and declining flower abundance as the most important drivers of the decline. This raises concern for the future food and economic security of this region, where honey sales contribute to 16% of total household income, and where Apis cerana cerana plays a major role in crop pollination, contributing more than 50% of all flower visits to apple, cucumber, and pumpkin. To mitigate further declines, we promote native habitat and wildflower preservation, and using well-insulated log hives to buffer bees against the increasingly extreme temperature fluctuations.


Apis cerana cerana; beekeeping; climate change; crop production; insect decline; insect pollination; pollinator decline; smallholder farming

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2024, Volym: 15, nummer: 4, artikelnummer: 281
Utgivare: MDPI

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