The field survey conducted to collect more than twenty parameters of Apis dorsata colonies during different seasons at different districts of southern Karnataka revealed interesting results. Altogether, 2,407 normal colonies (comb with live bees) were recorded at various habitats of southern Karnataka. Of all, Mysore district has recorded highest (1,560) colonies followed by Chamarajanagar (544) and Kodagu (303) districts. Among the seasons, winter has recorded highest (839) colonies followed by rainy (807) and summer (761) seasons.Apis dorsata selected 20 tree species to nest 1,646 colonies at an elevation ranged from five to 80 feet. About 580 colonies nested on human built structures at the height of eight to 75 feet and 181 colonies were found on rock cliffs at 10 to 30 m elevation. The colony density was more (3.64) in Mysore district followed by Chamarajanagar and Kodagu districts. Accordingly, the abundance and percent nesting frequency were also varied considerably. Further, the colony aggregates, aggregates density per 52 meter area, abundance and percent frequency was 1.57, 3.19 and 134.07 respectively on trees, rock cliffs and human built structures at Chamarajanagar, Kodagu and Mysore districts. The morphometrics indicated considerable variations. A. dorsata produced multifloral honey (10,831.5 kg) and good quantity of beeswax (1,444.2 Kg) every year. The floral source included 687 flowering plants which belong to 223 familes, supplied continuous nectar flow during most of the seasons with little variations. Apis dorsata honey quality was moderate with below detection limit of pesticide residues. Continuous interference from various predators, pests and parasites along with man-made activities have stressed severely A. dorsata colony population which resulted in the colony decline considerably. Thus, there is a dire need to conserve A. dorsata population under natural conditions in this part of the state.
Key words: Colony status, Apis dorsata, southern Karnataka, India.
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