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Foraging and pollination behaviour of Xylocopa calens Lepeletier (Hymenoptera: Apidae) on Phaseolus coccineus L. (Fabaceae) flowers at Yaounde (Cameroon)


Joseph Lebel Tamesse, Laboratory of Zoology, University of Yaoundé I, Higher Teachers' Training College, P.O. Box 47 Yaoundé I, Cameroon. Email:


To evaluate impact of carpenter bee, Xylocopa calens, on pod and seed set of Phaseolus coccineus, its foraging and pollinating activities were studied in Yaounde, for two seasons (May–July 2008 and April–June 2009). Observations were made on 40 inflorescences per treatment. The treatments included unlimited floral access by all visitors, bagged flowers to deny all visits, and limited visits by X. calens only. In addition, all flower visitors were recorded. The carpenter bee's seasonal rhythm of activity, its foraging behavior on flowers, its pollination efficiency, the fructification rate and the number of seeds per pod were recorded. Individuals from 16 species of insects were recorded visiting flowers of P. coccineus in the 2 years. Xylocopa calens was the most frequent, followed by Chalicodoma cincta cincta and Apis mellifera. Apart from bees, wasps were also recorded as likely predators. Xylocopa calens mainly foraged for nectar resources. The mean foraging speed was 9.62 flowers/min. Flowers visited by X. calens had higher fruiting rate compared with others, while those bagged had the lowest. In addition, seed formation was higher in X. calens-visited flowers compared with all others. The results show that this crop experiences pollination deficit even under normal circumstances, considering that flowers visited by X. calens had higher yields compared with those under unlimited access by all visitors. The fruiting rate, the number of seeds/pod and the percentage of normal seeds of unprotected inflorescences were significantly higher than those of inflorescences protected from insects. X. calens foraging resulted in a significant increment of the fruiting rate by 25.80%, as well as the number of seeds/pod by 14.97% and the percentage of normal seeds by 27.75% in 2008 and 18.39% in 2009. Conservation of X. calens nests close to P. coccineus fields could be recommended to improve pod and seed production in the region.