BENGALURU: Diminishing tree cover and emphasis on 3D architectural structures in cities are causing honey bees — especially rock bees (Apis dorsata) — to seek niches in such structures to build honeycombs, much to the fear of residents and occupants of such buildings. 3D spaces are corners of buildings where three sides are covered with structures, providing sufficient shade, little sunlight, and additional pillar spaces without any base below them.
Such spaces to build their honeycombs provide protection from predators like Honey Buzzard. Entomologists said since use of glass structures, airconditioners, cement and stone is high in architectural designs these days, additions which are done using pillars for aesthetic beauty keep corners of buildings cool, proving ideal for bees to build their colonies in these spaces.
The rise in bee colonies on tall residential and commercial buildings has caught the attention of All India Council of Honey Bees and state organisations to check on reasons and their numbers. As per a 2021 survey, there were 8,000 such bee colonies in Bengaluru alone. This year, even as the survey is ongoing, entomologists have seen a drop by 5- 10 per cent because of such hives being destroyed by residents and occupants with help of lay experts specialising in beehive demolition — a thing discouraged by apiarian experts and entomologists.
Bee presence dropping in Malnad regions
Noted entomologist Akshay Chakravarthy told The New Indian Express, “The number of tall structures is rising. And the 3D construction designs are meeting their requirements. It is also shocking that their presence is reducing in Malnad regions and coffee estates. This is because of a drop in availability of labour from Bihar, West Bengal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and increased use of pesticides.”
Dr K T Vijay Kumar, scientist, All India Coordinated Research Project on Agroforestry (AICRPAF) at University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra (GKVK), said this is also a part of the migratory season of honeybees and so they can be seen in large numbers.
They need spaces where they can build safe colonies and maintain an internal temperature of 32- 34 degrees in their combs, so tall structures are becoming safe for them. He said citizens must not kill them as they are most required natural pollinators. Rock bee colonies can yield 20- 25 kg of honey, which is highly rich in anti-oxidants and have high medicinal value.
These bees are wild and their species is on the decline as people kill them. They cannot be bred like domesticated ones like Apis mellifera or Apis cerana. Citizens should call GKVK for help to relocate bees or dial certified trained private agencies for relocation of the bee colonies.