The impact on environmental stressors on apiculture in Africa
Honeybees are important as pollinators of agricultural crops as well as of producers of bee products like honey and beeswax. Honeybees are exposed to various environmental stressors that can significantly affect apiculture. These stressors can vary in their prevalence and impact between different regions. In Africa, apiculture has a long tradition. Nevertheless, there is only limited data available about the influence of environmental stressors on beekeeping specifically on this continent is limited in comparison to certain other regions. A review of information available is provided in this article. There are close to 310 million bee colonies in Africa but only an estimated 14-18 millions of them are managed, which is a
completely different scenario than in most other continents. According to the limited data available, colony losses do occur in Africa, and where they were recorded, at more or less comparable levels like in Europe or North America. In general, stressors that play a relevant role on global level are to a certain extent prevalent in Africa too, with parasites and pathogens being of key importance as factors influencing bee health, as in other continents. Many of the relevant species appear to have been introduced to Africa only relatively recently, and to be just in the status of spreading there. In general, honeybees in Africa appear to be more resilient against many of these pathogens and parasites, compared to the European honeybee. Most notably, the parasitic Varroa mite which has been identified as the most important individual factor adversely affecting bee health in Europe and North America, does not appear to be a problem of comparable dimension in Africa. Beyond those issues, habitat loss, factors related to beekeeping practices, and the
indiscriminate or careless use of pesticides has been identified as relevant stressors impacting bee health and apiculture in Africa.
Keywords: Apiculture, Beekeeping, Africa, Honeybees, Environmental Stressors, Bee Pathogens