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Message from the Rector

Dear colleagues and friends:
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the new issue of the Mweka Newsletter. In this time round the newsletter highlights important activities undertaken by the Bee-Pollinator Monitoring Project, currently implemented by the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka (CAWM) and other partners.
You will see in this issue why CAWM is increasingly being recognized as one of the finest research-intensive Center of Excellence in the East African Community.
The CAWM Community is deeply committed to contributing to a better future for people and wildlife. The success we have registered so far, and which is highlighted in this newsletter on Bee-Pollinator Research Project is a function of numerous factors. First, the smart work done by our talented and dedicated member of the faculty; the energy, enthusiasm and passion of every one of us to make a difference in our communities; and the support and active engagement of our partners and supporters within and outside Tanzania.
The research on Bee- Pollinator Monitoring that is funded by JRS Biodiversity Foundation, based in-USA is a three-year collaborative research project led by CAWM and other national and international partners. The overarching goal of this project is to develop an understanding of biodiversity informatics, the population status of bee-pollinator, plant-pollinator interactions and causal factors for the bee population changes. To this moment the Project has registered some obvious successes. Some of the notable successes include: increased awareness on the ecological role of bees as pollinators to technocrats and decision-makers in Tanzania; the discovery of a new bee species and the re-discovery of two rare species in Mount Meru - Arusha National Park.
It is my pleasure to invite you to explore what CAWM has to offer through this newsletter and our website and discover what sets us apart from much other training and research institutions in our region. I believe you’ll be impressed by what the College through the Project has achieved so far and CAWM’s potential to accomplish greater things in the future. I welcome you to consider collaborating with CAWM and our member of Faculty in promoting research and training. Our desire as the College is to see this Project inspiring support from policy-makers and general public that bees are more than honey producers and, therefore, accord higher priority to their conservation. Bees are critically important in enhancing crop productivity and hence food security, survival of a variety of wildlife and hence supporting tourism industry. With this understanding, let’s all adopt a motto of 3Bs (Bring Back the Bees)

Yours sincerely,
Prof. Jafari R. Kideghesho

Bee-pollinator Monitoring Project, Tanzania: Who are We? and What are Our Plans?

By Emanuel H. Martin, Ph.D.

College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, P.O. Box 3031 Moshi, Tanzania

About the Project
Bee-Pollinator Monitoring Project, Tanzania is a three-year Project financed by the JRS Biodiversity Foundation and hosted by the College of African Wildlife Management (CAWM), Mweka. The Project is led by Dr. Oliver Nyakunga (Project Director) and Ms. Neema Kinabo (Project Coordinator) working in close collaboration with other Project team members and partners. The Project was officially launched in October 2017 with the following objectives:
  • To strengthen the capacity of Tanzanians in the aspects of biodiversity informatics; plant-bee interactions; DNA-based and morphological identification techniques; and collection management;
  • To develop and implement a standardized bee- pollinator monitoring program;
  • To share data on bee species, abundance and their interactions with plants via dedicated databases such as Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Tanzania Biodiversity Information Facility (TanBIF) and African Pollinator Initiative (API)
  • To disseminate results to the scientific community through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations; and
  • To raise awareness of the general public on the importance of bee-pollinators through various media, including newsletters, television, radio programs, and social media.

  • What we do?
  • We collect bee specimens for DNA barcoding, future use as reference collection and bee identification training at the College;
  • We provide technical know-how on bee taxonomy and collection management through various training organized by the College;
  • We educate the general public on the importance of bee conservation; and
  • We share occurrence data on bees through several biodiversity databases

  • Where we work
    At the moment, the research project is based in three regions namely Arusha, Kilimanjaro, and Manyara Regions in Northern Tanzania. Among other things, we study the interaction of bees along agricultural and grazing gradients. In the Agricultural gradient, we considered Savanna landscape, mid-intensive agriculture, and intensive agriculture habitats. Similarly, along the grazing gradient, we also chose three strata ranging from Savanna landscape, mid-intensively grazed habitat with some patches of savannah and intensively-grazed habitat.

    Our partners
    Bee-Pollinator Monitoring Project is being implemented by various partners from both within and outside the country. Partners coming from within the country include Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI); Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Ministry of Agriculture - Tanzania, Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI) and National Museum of Tanzania (NMT). Partnering institutions from outside Tanzania include the Belgian GTI, Belgium; University of Würzburg, Germany; Agricultural Research Council (ARC), South Africa; Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Belgium, University of Milano - Bicocca, Italy and the University of Kansas, USA.

    Our plans
  • To disseminate project findings through different fora and media
  • To build and strengthen the capacity of individuals working in research, training, and conservation-related institutions in Tanzania in bee collection management and taxonomy
  • To replicate the study to other regions in Tanzania’s
  • To continue raising awareness on the importance of conserving bee-pollinator.

  • The discovery of new bee species: An important Project Milestone

    By Emanuel H. Martin, Ph.D

    College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, P.O. Box 3031 Moshi, Tanzania

    To date, the project marks its second year of implementation and already great milestones have been achieved. One of the biggest successes within this short period is the discovery of a new bee species and the re-discovery of two rare species in Mount Meru. The Lasioglossum (Paradialictus) meruraptor, is the name a new bee discovered in Mount Meru at 2560 meters above sea level. The reddish chest (mesosoma), blue metallic reflection on the abdomen (metasoma), and the presence of long mandible with subapical tooth uniquely differentiate this species from other Losioglossum species. On the other hand, we re-discovered two rare species namely Eupetersia lasurea (Frieses, 1909) and Lasioglossum ereptor (Gibbs, 2009). Before the rediscovery at Mount Meru, E. lasurea was lastly recorded in 1981 in Northern Bugishu – Uganda, in 2010 in Mount Kenya 2010 and L. ereptor in 2009 in Mount Kilimanjaro.

    This success was possible due to the concerted efforts of our Ph.D. student who is supported by the project, taxonomists from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)-Belgium and overall project team members and partners. Other project successes include attracting other collaborators to work with the project specifically collaboration with the University of Milano - Bicocca, Italy to complement the on the project, collection of approximately 1252 bees, smooth run of the project despite changes in project leadership and capacity building to faculty members at the College and staff from local partners. The project has also transformed the College to become a pollinator lab through the purchasing of equipment such as stereo microscopes to be used by the College for training and research.

    To ensure that the public is reached out and awareness is created on the importance of bees as the important pollinators for our plants and what factors are causing their decline, the project participated in the "Nanenane” trade fare in Simiyu and Arusha Regions Tanzania in August 2018 and 2019 respectively.

    The truth you probably don't know about bees

    By Julius V. Lasway

    College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, P.O. Box 3031 Moshi, Tanzania

    Bees are flying insects belonging to the order Hymenoptera together with wasps, ants, and sawflies. It is believed that there are about 20,000 species of bees worldwide which belongs to seven families. Most of the bees are diurnal however we have some which are crepuscular and nocturnal. Their ability to fly at night not only enables them to avoid predators but also helps them to access flowers that produce nectar only at night. Most bees live in social groups such as honey bee and bumblebees. The rest live alone and do not swarm, they are called "solitary bees", they rarely sting and usually not aggressive. These solitary bees dig tunnels in the ground (ground-nesting bees) while others use old beetle tunnels in woods (pith and twig nesting bees). The most fascinating thing about solitary bees is that they are more efficient than honey bees in pollinating plants.
    Interestingly, not all bees are pollinators; instead, some wild bees are kleptoparasite, entering the nest of other bees and lay their eggs after removing eggs of the host bees. Others can be robbers (robber bees), invade another hive and steal the honey. However, we have few vultures bees feed on dead animal flesh (carcasses).
    In honey bee social structure, there is only one queen in the hive, and she can live up to 4 years (probably the long-lived insect) and lay up to 2000 eggs a day. She can also mate up to 15 drones and store their sperms in her spermathecal (sperm storage sac in the female reproductive tract). All bees from queen fertilized eggs become workers (female bees) but they are typically unable to mate but perform most of the work around the hive including the gathering of food (foragers), caring for larvae (nursery) and guiding the hive (guards). If worker bees sting, they will die when its barbed sting is pulled out some of its internal organs are torn out.
    Honey bees do a ‘waggle dance’ to tell other bees in the hive precisely where to find the best flowers. The dance describes the direction of the flowers with the sun's angle and the flower's distance from the hive. The more energetic and the longer the dance, the better the source of food. Bees born from unfertilized eggs mature into drones (male bees). Unlike the queen and worker, drones contain neither stinger nor pollen basket. Their main function within a colony is only mating. Drones are larger than workers because they eat more, however, during the dry season when food is scarce; they tend to be thrown out of the hive.

    Pollinators and the their Service

    By Neema R. Kinabo

    College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, P.O. Box 3031 Moshi, Tanzania E-mail:

    Pollination as a service
    Pollination is a process of pollen transfer between male and female parts of the flower that results in fertilization and reproduction in plants. The pollination process can be facilitated by the plant itself (self-pollination) or by the aid of vectors that are referred to as pollinators. Pollination services depend on both domesticated and wild pollinator populations, both of which might be affected by a range of recent and projected environmental changes, such as habitat loss and climate change, with unknown consequences for pollination service delivery. The majority of wild and cultivated plants depend on pollinators for pollination.

    Diverse nature of Pollinators
    Pollinators include mammals, birds, and insects. Of interest among the pollinators are bees, but other insects such as butterflies, wasps, and beetles are equally important. About 90% of food crops globally are pollinated by bees. Known species of bees are honey bees (Apis melifera), some bumblebees and stingless bees. These species are among the more than 20,077 species of bees that are wild (not managed).

    Values of pollinators and pollination
    Bees visit flowers mostly to collect or feed on nectar and/or pollen. The importance of bees and other pollinators includes economic, environmental, socio-cultural, indigenous and local perceptions. Many livelihoods for rural communities depend on pollinators, their products, and their multiple benefits.
    Agriculture as a sector employs 1.4 billion people and is considered to be one of the world's economically active labor forces. This is mainly significant to the world's underprivileged rural communities, 70% of whom depend on agriculture as the main economic activity. More than 2 billion people in developing nations (many of the African countries included) rely on peasant farming, an area that has been forgotten in pollinator research. Therefore, the impacts of pollinator loss will be different among countries' economies, being higher for economies with a high dependence on pollinator-dependent crops and products. The economic value of pollination has not accounted for non-monetary aspects of economic activities such as employment of beekeeping. Bees can help to ensure livelihood security and alleviate poverty among rural communities through honey-harvesting and beekeeping activities based on local knowledge. Local beehives and practices require a minimal investment that generates different saleable products. Such practices may also be linked to culture and traditions.
    Pollinators and their products also benefit society indirectly as a source of inspiration for art, music, literature, religion, traditions, technology and education. Bees inspire texts and imagery in some religions. For many people, good quality of life arises from the role of pollinators as symbols of identity, from aesthetically important flowers in landscapes, in social relations, and globally significant heritage. At present, markets and economic systems fail to capture all the benefits from pollinators and the full costs of declining pollinators. This oversight increases the critical need to protect pollinators, particularly bees, rather than adopting a "wait and see" policy which could have a devastating impact on the economy and the environment.

    A reflection on the threat to declining bee-pollinators

    By Rudolf F. Mremi

    College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, P.O. Box 3031 Moshi, Tanzania E-mail:

    Bees have thrived in their primary ecological role as vital components of agricultural and natural systems for millions of years. This group of miniature creatures is generally considered the most economically valuable pollinator worldwide. Bees are considered the most efficient pollinators in maintaining healthy ecosystems and ensuring food security. Over the past 50 years, agriculture has become increasingly dependent on bee and other pollinators (BOPs) such as moths, flies, wasps, beetles, butterflies, and some animals. In fact, of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of all food consumed worldwide, mostly are pollinated by bees. The figures are sufficient to justify the fact that, "one in every three bites of food we eat is made possible by bees”. Research shows that the presence of bees increases the quality and yields of many types of crops. But alarmingly, in many areas, pollination services are showing declining trends due to human actions. This service was provided by nature effectively at no apparent cost in the past, but with declining pollinators, farmers are nowadays incurring costs.

    Notwithstanding their importance, bee populations are in decline and Tanzania is no exception. These declines which are revealed in many parts of the world have been widely reported over the past decades. Current reports show that the extinction rates of bee pollinators are over 100 times higher than normal due to human impact. The worrying decline in the population of bees is overwhelmed by the same environmental challenges facing other animal taxa. For instance, agricultural practices are reported to account for substantial loss of wild bees. Such practices include monocultures and the increasing use of pesticides, just to mention but a few. Although agriculture offers floral resources and benefits to some pollinators, surprisingly many bees are habitat-specific; therefore, any alteration to their habitats poses serious threats to bee populations. The decline is likely to impact the production and costs of vitamin-rich crops such as fruits and vegetables. The improper use of pesticides (weeds and insect killers), especially persistent organic chemicals that remain in the environment for a long time before degrading, can negatively impact bee pollinators and their habitats. Systemic insecticides applied to plants can contaminate the pollen grains that are an essential source of food for bees and their young. Also, the use of herbicides that exterminate important forage plants for bees and other pollinators is an additional problem.

    Furthermore, climate change also has a negative impact. Higher temperatures and persistent droughts which have been the case for many drier climatic zones in Tanzania have led to changes in flowering time and a dwindling of bee populations. Habitat loss and fragmentation are another serious concern to bee pollinators. Many of the habitats that used to provide sites for foraging and nesting of wild bees have been lost for agriculture, resource extraction, and settlement. This has a multiplier effect on declining habitat quality. For instance, the loose soil required by ground-nesting bees may be trampled by heavy foot traffic or off-road vehicles. Also, alien plants or animals can reduce the quality of pollinator habitat. When alien plants dominate open fields, they crowd out the wild plants needed by certain bee species. Some alien plants also attract pollinators away from native species that are superior food sources. Parasites and diseases are still another threat to bee pollinators. Thus far, the effects of these parasites have been species-specific, including the mite and virus species that have severely compromised bee colonies.

    To protect bees from threats to their abundance, diversity, and health, efforts should be made to build a greater diversity of bee habitats in agricultural and urban settings. Policies in favor of pollinators that promote biological pest control and limit the use of specific pesticides should be implemented. Farmers can help maintain pollinator abundance, diversity and health by using innovative practices that integrate local and scientific knowledge and experience, and by diversifying farms to make food resources and shelter continuously available to pollinators. We need to increase collaboration among national and international organizations as well as academic and research bodies and encourage networks to monitor research and assess pollinators and pollination services. Sustainable agriculture can reduce the risk to bees by helping to diversify the agricultural landscape and make use of ecological processes as part of food production. The diversity of available food is largely due to animal pollinators.

    The importance of conserving a wide-range of bee-pollinators

    By Henry K. Njovu, Ph.D.

    Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, P.O. Box 70919, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania E-mail:

    In most cases when we talk about bees to rural community, many people particularly in the tropics, direct their focus to the role of bees in honey production and its by-products, but not pollination. In temperate regions (e.g. in Europe and North America) bees are in principle kept for providing pollination services, and honey production are considered a side product. This situation suggests a different understanding of the roles of bees in our environment. As bees are declining at an alarming rate, it is critical to have a broad understanding of their roles in the terrestrial ecosystem. This article provides some basic information about bee-mediated pollination and illuminates reasons for conserving this important creature on earth. First, it is important to know that pollination is a key element of ecosystem functioning and represents an ecosystem service of global importance. Pollination agents (animals and wind) mediate the pollination process by transferring pollen grains from anthers (i.e. male part of a flower) to stigma (i.e. female part of a flower). A result of this process is that plant sexual reproduction is ensured, food production is increased (including edible fruits, nuts, and seeds), genetic heterozygosity of crops is enhanced, a possibility of inbreeding depression is minimized, and system resilience is facilitated. In a nutshell, pollination plays a pivotal role in maintaining the functional integrity of terrestrial ecosystems.

    The reproduction of many plant species is by pollen and mediated by pollinator communities, in particular, bee-pollinators. Crop quality and quantity (i.e. number, weight, size, shape, nutritional value, and fruit shelf life) are often positively correlated with adequate pollination which is ensured by having a high diversity of pollinators rather than having a high abundance of a few species of pollinators. A high diversity of pollinators increases the chances of having pollinators with varying body sizes and behaviors which are critical for efficient and adequate pollination. Although many people perceive that managing honey bees (Apis sp.) can potentially serve as a strategy to enhance pollination services, the fact is, honey bees (Apis sp.) do not pollinate all flowers efficiently, but rather require additional pollination by wide varieties of wild bees.

    Scholarly reports show that wild bees can significantly supplement and contribute to the pollination of a variety of crops. However, many factors are driving the decline and loss of bee-pollinators (both managed by wild bees). These factors include land use intensification, climate change, poor pollinator management, pathogens and invasions of alien species. Therefore, there is an urgent need to conserve a wide range of bee-pollinators as their continued decline and loss will have a significant negative effect not only on food production and human wellbeing but also on the functionality of terrestrial ecosystems.

    Why is the Conservation of bee-pollinators important?

    By Fredrick Ojija

    Mbeya University of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 131, Mbeya, Tanzania
    Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 447, Arusha, Tanzania
    E-mail: /

    The essential role played by bee-pollinators in food production, conservation of syrphids, lepidopterans, coleopterans, and others is essential. This article discusses, in brief, the importance of bee-pollinator conservation concerning the Mweka Bee-pollinator Project at Mweka African College of Wildlife Management in Tanzania. It addresses the following two key questions: (i) Is the conservation of bee-pollinators important? and (ii) How can the conservation of bee-pollinators be achieved? Through these questions and based on the evidence of a current decline in both wild and domesticated bee-pollinators and a parallel decline in the plants that rely upon them, people will understand the need to conserve bee-pollinators.

    Is bee-pollinator conservation important?
    As the largest group of pollinators, bees are mostly generalist pollinators that visit different types of flowers. Many species of bee-pollinators gather pollen purposely when collecting nectar from the flowers. Beepollinators supply an important pollination service to agriculture so that plants or crops that depend on bees for pollination can produce neither fruits nor seeds without being assisted by bees. In most flowering plants such as sunflowers, beans, blueberries, mangoes, tomatoes, oranges and watermelons, bee-mediated pollination is a critical process contributing to high yields. High production of fruits, seeds and other types of food contributes to lessening food insecurity. Due to the role they play in food production, bee-pollinators are considered the most significant pollinator group in the world and therefore their conservation is critical. Furthermore, beepollinator is considered an important ‘tool' for biodiversity conservation because of their importance in pollination services. As plants produce seeds with the assistance of bee-pollinators, the seeds are eaten as food while the remaining ones continue to support the species' lifecycle. In this way, bee-pollinators play a great role in biodiversity conservation while maintaining the species' identity on the earth. Consequent ly, bee - mediated pollination is recognized as an important ecosystem service that contributes to global food production and biodiversity conservation.

    How can bee-pollinator conservation be achieved?
    Governments, local and international organizations can singly or synergistically finance and support efforts to conserve bee-pollinators, mitigate factors threatening bee populations, and create and implement sustainable plans to conserve bee-pollinators and eliminate threats facing them. However, it is worth noting that attempts to conserve bee-pollinators and curb threats facing them will have a significant effect if they actively engage local communities.

    Importance of bees and other insect pollinators in maintaining plant productivity

    By Cecilia Leweri

    Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, P.O. Box 661, Arusha
    Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 447, Arusha, Tanzania

    Pollinators provide an essential ecosystem service, they are responsible for 35% of global crop-based food production. Moreover, about 75% of agricultural crop species need animal pollinators for their reproduction and about 84% of 300 commercial crops are insect-pollinated. Some vectors of pollination include species of ants, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths and wasps. Among other insects, bees are known to be one of the most important groups of pollinators. Moreover, a representative sample of about one-third of global food production is mostly pollinated by honey bees (Apis sp.). This fact suggests that any decline in honey bees would pose a threat to global food production and security.

    Why are we concerned about pollinators?
    Concern about pollinator’s population is increasing worldwide with enough evidence that pollinators are in crisis. Available evidence suggests that pollinators especially bees are increasingly declining due to climate change, diseases, environmental degradation and habitat fragmentation which is driven by intensive agricultural practices and urbanization as well as heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. Despite the importance of bees and other insect pollinators which in ensuring a successful reproduction of most species of flowering plants, including crops, our preservation efforts rarely include these populations. This is unfortunate because most of these bees and other specialized pollinators, are low-fecundity organisms, very susceptible to insecticides and their populations are slow to recover from perturbations hence increase their susceptibility to extinction. What people need to know on the importance of bees and pollinators in maintaining plants productivity and composition and among others include;
      Bees are a farmer’s little helper, As for other pollinators, bees not only produce honey but also play a crucial role in the world's agricultural systems allowing us to produce all kinds of other foods through pollination. Hence, they are farmers’ little helpers.
      Not all bees sting; 90% of the world’s bee species live a solitary lifestyle. A fertile female bee is responsible for gathering pollen and nectar, laying eggs, and gathering or packing mud or leaves. It does not have the desire to sting as it is always busy to accomplish its responsibilities. Thus, this solitary bee will only sting if it is accidentally squashed or stepped on. On the other hand, male bees of any species do not even have stingers so there is no chance that this population of males will sting people.
      Increasing bee diversity increases food production. The higher the diversity of bee species in our farms, the higher the success of pollination of our crops, resulting in healthier, bigger, and better fruits and vegetables hence an increase in productivity. Pollination is often overlooked, but it is an important solution to the problem of our future food production and supply.
      Pollinators are highly sensitive to many pesticides, especially insecticides, and some combinations of pesticides. Minimize pesticide use and where necessary, apply pesticides only when needed and carefully read and follow all instructions before using them. Some labels instruct not to apply pesticides at the time when bees are active and particularly in the late evening.

    What is the way forward?
  • Let your farms and garden grow wild by leaving patches of land or by letting wildflowers grow and make great nesting and feeding sites.
  • Stop or reduce to the minimum, the use of pesticides, especially commercial pesticides as most of them harm pollinators and many other beneficial invertebrates. Instead, consider using alternatives such as plant-based pesticides that are effective and environmental user-friendly.
  • Grow more nectar-rich flowers, shrubs, and trees to provide food for pollinators throughout the year.
  • Avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects in grass margins, bare soil, hedgerows, trees, dead wood or walls.
  • Do not cut your grass frequently and whenever necessary to do so, cut and remove the cuttings to let the plant flowers re-flourish.