Honeybees Pollinating Passionfruit in Kenya!

Greetings from the Kerio Valley in Northwestern Kenya. This beautiful valley, an extension of the magnificent Great Rift Valley, is one of my favorite places. It is a veritable paradise for bees and other insects that live in the valleys’ forests, acacia-woodlands and rugged escarpments.

The Kerio Valley is also home to thousands of small-scale farmers. One of the crops grown here is Passionfruit. This delicious fruit comes from a creeper that bears spectacular and complex flowers that require insect pollination in order to produce yields.

Passionfruit Farm: Kerio Valley
Passionfruit Farm: Kerio Valley


At this particular site I found lots of honeybees visiting the passionfruit flowers:

Honeybee approaches a passionfruit flower...
Honeybee approaches a passionfruit flower…


Large numbers of honeybees were present on this sunny morning at the passionfruit flowers:

Jostling for room on a flower!
Jostling for room on a flower!

The bees were working hard collecting pollen by scraping it from the flowers’ anthers and then combing it into their pollen baskets (the yellow blobs on their hind-legs). In so doing, they transfer pollen between plants and pollinate the flowers, producing the delicious passion fruits that we so love. Here is a video of them hard at work:

These farms have bumper yields of passionfruits thanks to the bees.

But what helps make the bees visit the farms? The crop is only in flower occasionally, and bees need food year round at this site. The answer to this is simple: the abundant weeds and wildflowers in the fallow maize fields that surround the passionfruit farms.


Wonderful weeds at the edge of the farm
Wonderful weeds at the edge of the farm


Weeds are often seen as ‘the enemy’ by farmers, but they are important for supporting useful insects like honeybees and other pollinators.

Wildflowers help support the passionfruit farms!
Wildflowers help support the passionfruit farms!


The yellow wildflowers at this site were visited by the honeybees after they were done working on the passionfruit flowers…

Mmmm… yummy says the bee!
Mmmm… yummy says the bee!


Next time you enjoy a passionfruit – remember who to thank!

More from the wonderful world of dudus soon!

My name is Dino J. Martins, I am a Kenyan entomologist and I love insects. The Kiswahili word for insect is dudu and if you didn't know already, insects rule the world! Thanks to the amazing efforts of the 'little things that run the world' I was humbled to be selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. This blog is a virtual dudu safari through the fascinating world of bugs. Enjoy, leave a comment and send any questions or comments to me through: insects.eanhs@gmail.com
  • Ima Ryma

    I am a passionfruit and do
    Have a passion for honeybees,
    Cuz my pollination needs to
    Be buzzed by bees, and so I please
    Do invite bees on me to dine.
    On my sweet nectar, they do drink,
    Sending tingles all down my vine.
    No underage bees served – wink, wink!
    So honeybees come one, come all,
    And after nectar libation,
    Pay up big from past pollen haul,
    No need for a reservation.

    So may the bees buzz me galore.
    More bees do make my passion more.

  • wilfred gitonga

    hi.I tried growing passion in the greenhouse and despite the pine doing so well and flowering heavly the flowers abort b4 they develop fruit.could it be due to lack of pollination.If so kindly advice

  • Benon Mukasa

    please update me more about putting up an Apiary

  • Elizabeth Mercy

    would you please email me your contacts i need more info on bee keeping.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media