Unprecedented Density and Persistence of Feral Honey Bees in Urban Environments of a Large SE-European City (Belgrade, Serbia) †
Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade, Studentski Trg 16, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
SOS Mobile Team for Rescue and Removal of Honey Bee Swarms and Colonies, Koste Glavinića 12, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Department of Genetics of Populations and Ecogenotoxicology, Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”—National Institute of the Republic of Serbia, University of Belgrade, Bulevar Despota Stefana 142, 11060 Belgrade, Serbia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Some segments of this study were presented at the Symposium of Serbian Entomologists in 2019: Bila Dubaić, J.; Simonović, S.; Plećaš, M.; Ćetković, A.; Stanisavljević, L. Mass occurrence and longevity of feral honey bee colonies in the highly urbanized area of Belgrade [in Serbian]. In Book of Abstracts of the XII Symposium of Serbian Entomologists, Niš, Serbia, 25–29 September 2019; p. 45.
Academic Editor: Mariano Higes Pascual
Received: 7 November 2021
Revised: 26 November 2021
Accepted: 30 November 2021
Published: 16 December 2021
The western honey bee, a pollinator species that is essential for modern agriculture and food production sustainability, is under various anthropogenic pressures. In the last few decades, these have led to serious worldwide problems concerning the health and stability of honey bee colonies. The importance of wild or feral honey bees has only recently been recognized, as these populations are crucial for research on the processes that enable their survival under such pressures. Here, we present a case of an unmanaged free-living population of honey bees that, unlike in other known studies, live in a highly populated urban environment. This extraordinarily dense feral honey bee population, which is not directly associated with managed apiaries, provided us with a large dataset of various life history parameters that will considerably fill in the knowledge gaps on unmanaged colonies. Furthermore, we want to underline the importance of citizen science in the data collection process and suggest it as a suitable approach to study feral honey bees in urban landscapes. We believe that highly populated urban landscapes can support and reinforce feral honey bees and that similar citizen science projects should be set up in other urban areas or other countries.