Honey Pollen: Using Melissopalynology to Understand Foraging Preferences of Bees in Tropical South India
The aim of the study was to use melissopalynology to delineate the foraging preferences of bees in tropical environs. This was done by comparing pollen spectra obtained from the same hives every three months for three years at four sampling locations (in two sites) within a confined landscape mosaic. If melissopalynology is highly replicable, the spatial variation of the pollen spectrum from the honey samples would be much more than the temporal (inter-annual) variations. In other words, given the three factors, Month, Year and Location, honey pollen from different Locations, in a given Year and Month, would be much less similar than samples from different Years, in a given Location and Month. We then determined how the factors, Month, Year and Location, influenced the pollen influx of honey. The pollen analyses of the 42 honey samples collected during the three years yielded 80 pollen taxa/types: 72 dicotyledonous and 8 monocotyledonous, encompassing 41 botanical families spread into seven life forms namely, trees, shrubs, epiphytes, herbs, climbers, grasses, and sedges. Our results showed that pollen spectra were equally comparable between Locations and between Months and Years; the importance of this result is that it helped to demonstrate the complexity of ecological/environmental phenomena involved in the process of foraging by bees in a heterogeneous and complex landscape.