Study reveals impact of honeybees on wild bees in Malta

Dr Mario Balzan, a researcher working on the Beepol project, conducted a study on the interaction between different species of bees in Maltese habitats. The study, based on a dataset of plant-bee networks from 78 sites surveyed by Dr Balzan and Leticia De Santis, revealed that a high visitation rate by honeybees has a negative impact on the abundance of wild bees. The study also found that both the endemic Maltese honeybee and ground-nesting wild bees tend to be more present in agricultural habitats to the exclusion of other wild bees. The study recommends a greater diversity of floral resources and nesting habitats in this habitat to cater for a wider range of wild bee groups and species. Furthermore, the study provides the first evidence of competition between honeybees and wild bees in Malta. The authors warn that the intensification of beekeeping to boost pollination and honey production may result in the loss of wild bees, who also contribute to pollination.

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