Tim Heard: Conservation of Stingless bees

Keeping stingless bees is gaining popularity. Can we ensure that this movement has a positive impact on their conservation? Is it possible to utilize stingless bees sustainably? I first explore how stingless bees have recently travelled from obscurity to become ambassadors for nature. I show how popular they are becoming for recreation and education. I review the explosion of resources that have recently become available. This phenomenon is not confined to Australia but to many tropical parts of the world. I examine the conservation of stingless bees in the context of this increasing utilisation and disturbance. I address the following threats: 1) Harvesting of wild populations. 2) Destruction of colonies by land clearing. 3) Anthropogenic movements cause adverse genetic consequences for wild populations. 4) Spread of disease. 5) Competitive impacts on other species and 6) Loss of cryptic species. I conclude that there are areas that need to be better managed and monitored.