The diversity of endemic honeybee subspecies and ecotypes is at risk in Europe because modern apiculture promotes only a small number of honeybee strains. A crucial step for the conservation of honeybee diversity is the assessment of the status of remaining wild populations and their limiting factors. Here we present a two-year census of native, wild-living honeybees inhabiting power poles in an intensive agricultural landscape in Galicia, NW Spain. The autumn colony densities were at least 0.22 and 0.17 colonies/km² and winter survival rates were 59% and 26% for the years 2019 (N = 29) and 2020 (N = 23), respectively. Both the initial occurrence and the subsequent winter survival of the colonies were positively correlated with increasing proportions of wood- and shrubland in the surroundings in both study years. These observations highlight the importance of semi-natural habitats for the conservation of wild-living honeybees.
Rutschmann B, Kohl PL, Machado A, Steffan-Dewenter I (2022) Semi-natural habitats promote winter survival of wild-living honeybees in an agricultural landscape. Biological Conservation 266, 109450. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109450