Gathering information on the bee foraging plants in a given area is of primary importance in the development of any apiculture industry. Analysis of the honey produced in hives as well as the stored pollen loads help to evaluate the sources of nectar and pollen used by honey bees and their behavioural pattern in the selection of preferences for certain plants as food. Our previous melissopalynology study focused on the analysis of the Omani honey from hives in 14 locations of Muscat and the Al Batinah regions. Our current study examines the pollen pellets collected from those same areas. A total of 249 pollen pellets from 22 honeycombs that were collected by Apis florea and Apis mellifera honeybees were processed and the pollen types were identified using light and scanning electron microscopy. Each pollen load was designated as a unifloral, bifloral or multifloral type. Each plant taxon identified was categorized as being utilized by honeybees for pollen only, nectar only or for both pollen and nectar. A pollen reference collection of 105 local flowering plants was prepared that enabled us to identify most of the pollen types. The quantification of 94 pollen types revealed that 67 of them belonged to 39 plant families, all of which are represented in both the pollen loads and the honey samples. Seven pollen genera were found in the pollen loads only and suggest that those plants were visited by bees just for pollen. Twenty pollen types appear only in the honey samples and suggest that bees visited them only for nectar. Major bee foraging plant species include: Ziziphus spinachristi, Acacia tortilis, Prosopis cineraria, Prosopis juliflora, Maerua crassifolia, Citrus spp., Zygophyllum spp. and Fagonia spp. These data provide a guide to the optimal utilization of floral resources by honeybees in these regions.
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Vol. 38 • No. 2