Bees come in two varieties, stingless and honey bees.

Stingless bees are generalists in their selection of nest sites and their main criteria are insulation and low risk of predation. There are about 10 different bee species in Bwindi, with the honey of each having particular medicinal qualities. One species, mostly found in northern Bwindi, nests only on walls. The others nest on trees and one on the ground where it spends one-third of its time. There are usually 1–3 colonies per hectare/2.5 acres. They suffer from habitat loss; fragmentation decreases habitat quality. They don’t like low temperatures, so are vulnerable to seasonal variations. They are most active between 8am-4pm.

The honey bee has larger colonies and more sophisticated communication, is less aggressive and can be attacked by stingless bees. They are bigger, some have developed mandibular teeth, distinct colour and they can recruit rapidly. Their main predators are humans who harvest in parks clandestinely. Other predators are ants, toads, chimpanzees and lizards. It has always been a favoured food of the Batwa who are knowledgeable about the different species and the properties of honey.

Photo: Miha Logar

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