INTRODUCTION to FORAGING ACTIVITY OF THE EUROPEAN HONEY BEE, APIS MELLIFERA L. ON LITCHI FLOWER IN DIFFERENT HOURS OF THE DAY
Flowering plants and honeybees have a special relationship in which both are benefited from each other. As honeybees get food and in turn facilitate their pollination process. Honeybees visit flowers to collect pollen and nectar. Pollens are the principle source of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, which are essential for honeybee growth and development, repairing of worn out tissue and stimulating the development of hypo-pharyngeal glands. Nectar is the carbohydrate compounds mainly sucrose, fructose and glucose portion of the honeybee’s food and is the raw material of honey (Jones and Yates, 1991).
During foraging activities, honeybees identify and differentiate among various flowers using odours and both intensity and odour quality effect the ability of honeybee to discriminate between floral perfumes (Pham-Delegue et al. 1986).
Honeybee forage by selecting flowers that have similar shape, colour and odor (Chittka et al., 1999).
Foraging means search for provision. Foraging is the process by which bees remain engaged in looking for the source of pollen and nectar. A bee that had successfully forage or scouted or got information via a dance flies directly to the direction for the distance she knows. This information might be a little sound. If she finds something’s there she switches to returning. If not, she switches to searching for a given time (Anonymous, 1999).
Bees are colonial animal. They live in a colony for the purpose to fulfill different needs to deal with life. They are a polymorphic species as division of labors is found in the colony. Mainly there are three types of castes found i.e. queen, worker and drone. When the bees are7 days old after hatching, they set out of the hive in search of the sites of bee plants which are blossoms. These bees are known as scout bees ( Prost, J.P.& Medori, P. 1994). The scout bees don’t collect either any pollen or any nectar even when they have spotted the bee plant in foraging condition or any other sources which can provide the bees with necessary provision. They simply bring back the information regarding the presence of the provision. On returning to the hive they pass this information to the foragers through a special pattern of dance. Mainly the workers search for food, these are known as foragers (Hussein, M.H et al. 1992).
Maximum honeybee foraging activities were recorded during the months of August, July and September foraging activities remained minimum during December January and November (Hussein et al. 1992). Peak foraging in relation to daytime was observed at 9a.m. during September, October and November, at 11a.m. during April, May, June, July and August, at 1p.m.during December, January, March and April while minimum foraging rate was recorded at 7a.m. in all months except October and November at 5p.m.(Omar et al. 1992).
They need a lot of protein to complete their development from egg to adult. The perfect and suitable source of protein and carbohydrate are consequently pollen grains and nectar. So, they forage to support their requirement of nutrition. Generally bees frequently forage from September to the middle of April. December to March for the bees are known as the flow season. In the flow season different times of the day bees behave differently. The time of foraging can be divided into four phases viz. Morning , noon, afternoon and evening. Normally most bees forage in the morning.
Collection of nectar for the purpose of recovers the need of energy( carbohydrate). Nectar contains sugars (carbohydrate) that are the primary source of the energy for the bees wing muscles and for heat for honey bee colonies for winter. Pollen provides the protein and replace bees lost in the normal course of the life cycle and colony activity.