A team of researchers has discovered two new species of bees in the mountainous Adamawa plateau near the town of Meiganga in Cameroon.
The species known as Leuconomia tchuenguemi and Maynenomia adamaouaensis are solitary bees. Their work is mainly to collect pollen and nest in burrows in the ground.
Solitary bees, as their name suggests, live alone rather than in large colonies like honeybees or bumblebees. Many survive for just a few weeks – enough time to mate, make a nest and lay their eggs. But, like their more sociable cousins, they perform vital pollination services while they busily collect nectar and pollen from plants to feed their offspring.
With these kind of bees, a single female mates, then constructs a nest alone, and provides for the egg cells that will become larvae.
However, some solitary bees in one sense, do live in a simple form of society (or social group) in that a few individual bees may nest close to each other, and in some cases, even share nest guarding and foraging duties.
These bees are easily overlooked but they are known to pollinate plants more efficiently than honeybees.They play an essential role in the pollination and reproduction of crops like maize, groundnuts, millet and different grasses.
They provide an essential pollination service, pollinating crops and ensuring that plant communities are healthy and productive. They thus contribute to food security by improving productivity.
A study led by Fernand-Nestor Tchuenguem Fohoua between 2009 and 2010 revealed that the solitary bees in the high altitude Savannah area of Adamawa had a positive impact on growing peanuts.
These rare species are however under threat of bushfires which destroy their habitats along with the inappropriate use of pesticides.
Fernand wants the use of such products to be avoided especially during the pollination period as this would only threaten the pollinating insects.