Exploring fauna and flora at Gunung Gede

After we visited LIPI at Bogor, we headed to the nearby mountains at Cibodas — Gunung Gede and Mt. Pangrango — for two days. On the agenda: hike, watch birds, and also observe and photograph the floral associations and behaviour of bees.

West Java has one of the richest and best studied bee fauna of Southeast Asia, but little is known about the current status of many species. As far back as the 1950s, the famous melittologist Maurits Ann Lieftinck raised concerns about the loss of forest-associated species. Deforestation must have drastically decreased available bee habitat since Lieftinck’s time, but fortunately, areas of preserved forest remain, and endemic biota can still be found. The volcano Gunung Gede is one of the best remaining sites.

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Visit to Bogor and Indonesia’s insect repository at LIPI

From 24-30 September, John Ascher, Shao Xiong, and Benjamin travelled to West Java, Indonesia to study bee and wasps. From our base in Bogor, we visited the national insect collection at LIPI (the Indonesian Institute of Sciences), on the invitation of our host Dr. Sih Kahono, a primary supervisor at the Center for Biological Research at LIPI, and a researcher on stingless bee ecology.

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NUS features our lab’s bee research

Our research was featured today in an article titled ‘Global data for declining bees’ by the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Science. Here’s an excerpt:

In response to bee declines threatening ecosystems and food security, Prof John ASCHER from the Department of Biological Sciences, NUS with help from a global network of bee taxonomic specialists is completing the first comprehensive checklist of valid bee species and their distributions. He is working with the Integrative Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) of the US government to make a global update to the World Bee Checklist. He works with Prof John PICKERING of the biodiversity portal “Discover Life” to integrate bee data online on the species pages. NUS students and regional collaborators across East Asia are completing the first comprehensive monographs on bees from this neglected region.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

Exploring Stingless Bee Keeping and Research in Seremban, Malaysia

Over the weekend of 11-13 November, some members and affiliates of the Insect Diversity Lab drove up to Seremban, Malaysia to visit the local beekeepers and scientists involved in stingless bee keeping and research. This visit included stingless bee farms managed by Jeffry Iskandar Foo, and the Malaysia Genome Institute.

At Jeffry’s farm, we saw the hives of many species of stingless bees endemic to Malaysia. These hives were often constructed from wooden boxes or created from hollowed-out logs, where the bees would nest within. Jeffry was able to harvest the propolis used to construct nest entrances and the honey, which is simply squeezed from their honey pots.

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