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Stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) at risk in western Mexico

Cite this dataset

del-val, Ek et al. (2022). Stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) at risk in western Mexico [Dataset]. Dryad.


The current global pollinator crisis highlights the need to investigate the diversity and distribution of ecologically and socially relevant taxa such as tropical stingless bees. We analyzed the diversity and composition of stingless bee (Meliponini) communities at a regional scale in west-central Mexico using an extensive direct search along an altitudinal gradient encompassing different climate and vegetation types. Our hypothesis was that meliponine bee diversity would be greater in tropical warmer. We found a total of 14 meliponine bee species, including two new records for the region. We identified three types of bee assemblages: one in hot lowland climates with tropical dry forest vegetation, one in temperate highland climates with mixed oak-pine forest vegetation, and one in the warm ecotone with mixed subdeciduous forest vegetation between the hot and temperate zones. As expected, the lowland assemblage in the tropical dry forest vegetation had the greatest diversity (11 species). In the warm ecotone, meliponine species from temperate highlands and hot lowland habitats converged; this region should therefore be considered a high conservation priority area. Fifty percent of the meliponine bees found are endemic and have a very low incidence, suggesting that their populations may be endangered. Given the extensive and ongoing change of land use to avocado plantations in the warm ecotone and temperate highlands with mixed oak-pine forest vegetation cover, specific conservation plans should be generated to conserve the natural ecosystems and this important native pollinator group.This data set provides the information about Melliponin sampling in Michoacan, Mexico during 2018-2019. It provides the locality name, altitude, vegetation type and climate per sampling site.


Stingless bees were sampled by direct search, following Sutherland’s (1996) proposal. At each site, two people searched for bees for a minimum of four to a maximum of six consecutive hours in an area of 2 Km2. Searching time differences depended on the number of bee species observed, if after four hours no more new bee species appeared we stopped the sampling in that site. Sampling days began 8-9 am depending on weather conditions. At each location we chose sites where flowering was evident, with water sources or salt deposits nearby. Bees were collected with entomological nets or entomological aspirators. We also considered information provided by local people about sites with bee aggregations, bee nests and floral patches. A single sampling session was performed at each site between February 2018 and June 2019. Because meliponine bees are active throughout the year, they were sampled when plants where flowering according to the type of vegetation and on days without rain or strong winds.


Consejo Nacional de Humanidades, Ciencias y Tecnologías, Award: 489580

Rufford Foundation, Award: 24084-1

UNAM-Papiit, Award: IN308418

Rufford Foundation, Award: 24084‐1

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Award: PAPIIT IN308418