Traditional uses and relative cultural importance of <i>Tetragonula iridipennis</i> (Smith) (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponini) in Nepal

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Victor H. Gonzalez
Deborah Smith


Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in tropical and subtropical areas of the world use stingless bees for diverse purposes. Literature records indicate that people from different regions in Nepal use Tetragonula iridipennis (Smith), the only stingless bee species that occurs in the country. However, ethnobiological knowledge on this bee remains poorly documented. Herein we report for the first time on the local indigenous nomenclature, traditional knowledge, and management practices among four ethnic communities (Chhetri, Brahmin, Tharu, and Kirat) in Nepal. We also offer a preliminary quantitative analysis of the relative cultural importance of this species among these ethnic groups. We conducted ethnographic research across the Terai and Pahad regions (8 districts and 6 zones) of Nepal and recorded 18 specific uses in food, medicine, crafts, and religious beliefs. Based on the relative importance index, T. iridipennis is most culturally important for the Tharu people, a finding that supports the reliance of this ethnic group on local natural resources in their everyday life. All participant communities largely exploit this bee through extractive management practice of wild populations. We discuss the conservation status and future directions for the sustainable use of this stingless bee in the country.

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