New species of wild bees were discovered in Huila

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These findings allow us to have a better knowledge of wild bees and their distribution in the country and contribute to the conservation efforts of these native pollinators in Huila.

A bee specialized in collecting floral oils, an orchid bee, stingless and very social bees, meliponas that produce the best honey in the country, as well as a parasite that encourages other bees to raise their offspring, are part of the group of the nine new species of wild bees registered in Huila.

The discovery was made during the execution of the science, technology and innovation project that is being carried out in the Andean-Amazonian corridor.

The project financed with resources from the General Royalties System, the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Alto Magdalena – CAM, the Government of Huila and Conservation International, aims to increase scientific production on the effect of the ecosystem service of pollination with wild stingless bees in the coffee landscapes of the Andean-Amazonian Transition Corridor in the department of Huila.

“Our objective was to characterize the diversity and abundance of wild stingless bees in Huila, that is why we selected 18 coffee farms, in which we collected the wild bees with the help of mouth aspirators and entomological nets, transferring them to the Bee Research Laboratory of the National University of Colombia to do the taxonomic identification, finding that nine species of all those we collected were not reported for the Corridor and some of them were not registered for Huila,” said Antonella Sardi, leader of the scientific team of the project.

With this research carried out by the La Palmita Natural Reserve Foundation – Research Center, it was discovered that in six of the 13 municipalities that make up the Andean-Amazonian corridor there are five new species of stingless bees, two new species of oil bees (Centris quadrimaculata and Paratetrapedia calcarata), a species of orchid bee (Eupriesea surinamensis) and a species of parasitic bee (Triepeolus aff. Cameroni).

Discovery details
The details surrounding the discovery will be presented in an international scientific publication, but from the project it was announced that the bees were collected between November 2023 and February 2024, since there were many information gaps regarding the knowledge of bees. wild in the department of Huila.

“Studies had been carried out in the Tatacoa Desert and some collections between Rivera and San Agustín, however the species of wild bees in the corridor were unknown, therefore these findings allow us to have better knowledge and also expand the distribution of these species in the country,” said Sardi, who explained that in turn this result contributes significantly to the conservation efforts of these native pollinators, advanced in the Andean-Amazon transition corridor of Huila as in the entire country.

The new species
Regarding the nine new species of bees found in Colombia, Baraya, Tello, Neiva, Gigante and Acevedo, six of the 13 municipalities that make up the corridor, it was learned that five are species of stingless bees, therefore they do not sting. They are social and produce excellent honey, so they can be used for breeding. Among these are the black angelfish (Frieseomelitta paupera) that forms its nests in the shape of a cluster and its honey can be used for consumption. The shy bee (Nannotrigona tristella) was also discovered, robust, black and called shy, because when people approach the nest they tend to hide. Its honey is used in other regions of the country for polymeniculture.

“We also reported the ground bee (Geotrigona subgrisea), which are black bees, small in size, that make nests on the ground and their honey can be used. There is also the species La Enreda (Scaptotrigona magdalenae), these are yellow or matte in color, they are not very bright, they call them entangle, because when one approaches the nest they tend to get tangled in people’s hair, their honey is used by others. regions of the country,” explained the leader of the project’s scientific team.

The researcher indicated that Scaptotrigona magdalenae, whose scientific name refers to the Magdalena River valley in Colombia, was reported for the first time in the department of Huila; as well as pâté (Trigona fuscipennis). This black bee with an indigenous name is defensive and its honey is not recommended for consumption because it tends to collect excrement.

Finally, among the discoveries, oil bees appear, with habits specialized in collecting floral oils, one of them called yellow rabies, so they do not serve as breeding, nor do they produce honey, but they are important in pollination.

“Among other discoveries are the orchid bee and the Parasitic bee, the latter does not build a nest but rather uses those of other bees so that they can raise their offspring,” explained the scientist who highlighted these findings and the importance of the bees that make up the group of pollinators that, unlike other insects, their high frequency of visits makes them very efficient pollinators of both wild and cultivated plants.

The Andean-Amazonian Transition Corridor
The Department of Huila has strategic biodiversity conservation areas within them, the Andean-Amazonian Transition corridor, which is one of the areas of greatest interest in terms of biodiversity, which extends across 13 municipalities from the north to the south of Huila (Colombia, Baraya, Tello, Rivera, Neiva, El Hobo, Campoalegre, Algeciras, Garzón, Gigante, Guadalupe, Suaza and Acevedo).

This corridor connects two buffer zones of National Parks, four Regional Parks and three moorland complexes in the Huila region.

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