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Ethnobotanical study on plants used for traditional beekeeping by Dulong people in Yunnan, China

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Cheng, Z; Luo, BS; Fang, Q; Long, CL

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2020

JOURNAL OF ETHNOBIOLOGY AND ETHNOMEDICINE

16

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Background The Dulong (Drung) people have used plant materials in traditional beekeeping for many decades. However, there are few studies on the plants used in traditional beekeeping. Furthermore, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) associated with beekeeping is still poorly understood. TEK and plants associated with beekeeping play an important role in the conservation of native bees and the development of beekeeping. It is therefore very urgent to investigate, record, and study the plants and TEK of Dulong beekeeping. Methods Fieldwork was conducted in the Dulong community of Gongshan County, Yunnan Province, China. Six Dulong villages were investigated. Ethnobotanical methods such as free listing, semi-structured interviews, participatory observation, and key informant interviews were used to collect data. A total of 42 Dulong respondents provided information about plants used in traditional beekeeping. TEK related to traditional beekeeping plants was documented. Citation frequency, abundance, and preference ranking of log beehive plant species were used to identify plant resources that are easier to obtain and more preferred. Results There are two general methods of traditional Dulong beekeeping: living tree beekeeping and log beehive beekeeping. The investigation revealed that 38 species (in 19 families), including 30 tree species, 5 bamboo species, 2 herbaceous species, and 1 liana species, are used in traditional Dulong beekeeping. Different plant parts are used for different purposes. Twenty-seven tree species are used to make log beehives. Species from the family Pinaceae and Fagaceae are the most frequently represented. Seven of the most commonly reported species used to build log beehives were scored by ten beekeepers. Based on this scoring, the beekeepers' most preferred species for making log beehives areAlnus nepalensis,Pinus yunnanensis, andJuglans regia. Conclusion The Dulong people have used various plants for traditional beekeeping and have accumulated rich TEK associated with apiculture. Future research will include a nutritive components analysis of honey from traditional Dulong beekeeping and an ethnobotanical investigation of melliferous species used in traditional Dulong apicultural systems. The application of plants and TEK associated with beekeeping is important for improving livelihoods in local communities, conserving biocultural diversity, and protecting the eco-environment of the Dulongjiang area.

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