Thirty years after: a survey on the distribution and expansion of Africanized honey bees (Apis millifera) in Peru
E E Pérez-Castro, W de J May-Itzá, J J G Quezada-Euán
Peru is one of the first South American countries colonized by Africanized honey bees (AHB). Paradoxically, little information is available on the distribution and economic impact of AHB on the beekeeping industry of the country. In this study we report the results of a survey of 186 managed colonies sampled during July 2000 in 16 departments of Peru covering all climatic environments within two transects. Morphometric classification showed that AHB colonies were found in all the Peruvian departments under study. However, the occupation of the Peruvian territory by AHB has produced varied levels of Africanization. Only 53% of the colonies were of 'pure' Africanized morphotype, whilst 30% were of intermediate African-European categories and 17% were of 'pure' European morphotype. There were also significant differences in the percentage of AHB colonies between departments and transects: the tropical departments and transects of the east were practically saturated with AHB colonies, but the tropical areas of the western Pacific coast showed more predominance of European honey bee (EHB) colonies. These results suggest that hybridization between EHB and AHB in western Peru has occurred as a result of reduced numerical advantages of the latter, in this case, due to a geographic barrier limiting the continued influx of AHB swarms. Currently, the beekeeping industry in Peru is increasing which probably reflects the adaptation of a new generation of beekeepers to AHB. We suggest that the establishment of national plans for selection and transfer of technology are feasible given the great potential for beekeeping in Peru.
Africanized honey bees, Apis mellifera, morphometrics, beekeeping, Peru