Honey Bee Essay

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Chapman, RE, AFG Bourke. 2001. The influence of sociality on the conservation biology of social insects. Ecology Letters. 4: 650-662.
Summary: Chapman and Bourke (2001) provide and excellent overview of social insects as a group and the challenges associated with their conservation. Social insects like the honeybee are known to be excellent "ecological engineers", good providers of "ecosystem services," and also act as good bioindicator species. The social aspect of these species makes them excellent invaders, explaining why the common honeybee has thrived even in its non-native habitat. The rates of terrestrial invertebrate extinction may exceed those of vertebrates. Of the approximately 882 species of social bee described, none are considered
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Furthermore, this study tracks the possible cascade effects on an area due to a loss of this mutualism as well as assessing current threats and management issues. Mutualisms between plants and pollinators date back to the Cretaceous period. To this day, about two thirds of flowering plants depend on insects for pollination, other depending on birds and mammals as well. Approximately 30% of human food is derived from bee pollinated crops. Pollinator loss affects a plant in multiple ways. A reduced or absent seed set is likely, along with decreasing heterozygosity, or increased inbreeding. Eventually, plant extinction may occur, often disrupting entire ecological processes. Apis mellifera is a European bee species that has been introduced around the world. Although it is considered to be an important pollinator of crops, native species are often ignored. This now common domesticated bee was chosen because it is relatively easy to transport and manage. Bee mites as well as competition from the aggressive African honey bee are a few of the problematic species hindering the domestic honey bee. They are also surprisingly ineffective pollinators when it comes to many species of plants.
Visscer, PK. 1989. A quantitative study of worker reproduction in honey bee colonies. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 25:

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