Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology

Patrick L. Kohl

Dr. Patrick Kohl

Department of Livestock Population Genomics
Garbenstr. 17
70599 Stuttgart
Room: 021
Patrick Kohl

  • Biology of social insects, especially honey bees (Apis spp.)
  • Pollination ecology
  • Behavioral ecology
  • Wildlife in the Anthropocene/conservation biology
  • Sustainable apiculture

Ecology of wild-living honey bee colonies in German forests (Doctoral research project, sponsored by DBU)

The honeybee is usually considered as a domesticated insect managed by beekeepers for honey production and crop pollination, but Apis mellifera has generally always been a wild species, too. After our finding that wild-living honeybee colonies still occur in German forests (Kohl and Rutschmann 2018) the critical question was whether these colonies form a self-sustaining population (as opposed to the cohort of wild-living colonies being maintained by the recurrent immigration of swarms from apiaries). To clarify this, we monitored the population demography of wild-living colonies in several forest areas over multiple years (Kohl et al. 2022). Furthermore, we investigated how wild-living colonies relate to managed colonies in terms of parasite burden (Kohl et al. 2023), and explored whether parasite burden, nest depredation and/or landscape composition (which, we know, determines floral resource availability) are associated with wild-living colony winter mortality (Kohl & Rutschmann et al. 2023).

  • 2023 Graduation Dr. rer. nat. at the Faculty of Biolgy, University of Würzburg; thesis title: "The buzz beyond the beehive: population demography, parasite burden and limiting factors of wild-living honeybee colonies in Germany" (
  • 2019–2023 Doctoral student at the department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, fellow of Deutsche Bundesstifung Umwelt
  • 2018–2019  Pre-doctoral researcher at the department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, in the group of Prof. Dr. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
  • 2015–2018 Master studies in Biology at the University of Würzburg: MSc thesis: "Pollination ecology of Clinopodium alpinum along an altitudinal gradient in the Northern Alps"
  • 2015–2018 Three research trips as a visiting student to the honey bee lab of the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India; comparative studies on behavior and ecology of three Asian honey bee species (PROMOS grant by the DAAD in 2015, grants by the Bavarian-Indian Centre in 2017 and 2018)
  • 09/2013­­–02/2014 Studies in Zoology, Biogeography and Limnology at the University of Granada, Spain (ERASMUS grant)
  • 2011­­–2014 Bachelor studies in Biology at the University of Münster; BSc thesis project in cooperation with Landwirtschaftskammer NRW (Aufgabengebiet Bienenkunde): "Drone production in naturally nesting and beekeeper-managed honey bee colonies (Apis mellifera)"

scientific publications


Kohl PL, D’Alvise P, Rutschmann B, Roth S, Remter F, Steffan-Dewenter I, Hasselmann M (2023). 
Reduced parasite burden in feral honeybee colonies. Ecological Solutions and Evidence 4:e12264.

Kohl PL, Rutschmann B, Brockmann A (2023). Dance communication of giant honeybees. In: Abrol DP (ed). Role of giant honeybees in natural and agricultural systems. CRC Press.

Kohl PL*, Rutschmann B*, Sikora LG, Wimmer N, Zahner V, D'Alvise P, Hasselmann M, Steffan-Dewenter I (2023). Parasites, depredators, and limited resources as potential drivers of winter mortality of feral honeybee colonies in German forestsOecologia 202:465–480.  *equal contribution

Rutschmann B, Kohl PL, Steffan-Dewenter I (2023). Foraging distances, habitat preferences and seasonal colony performance of honeybees in Central European forest landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology 60:1056-1066. 


Kohl PL, Rutschmann B, Steffan-Dewenter I (2022). Population demography of feral honeybee colonies in central European forests. Royal Society Open Science 9: 220565.

Kohl PL & Steffan-Dewenter I (2022). Nectar robbing rather than pollinator availability constrains reproduction of a bee-flowered plant at high elevations. Ecosphere 13(6): e4077.

Rutschmann B*, Kohl PL*, Machado A, Steffan-Dewenter I (2022). Semi-natural habitats promote winter survival of wild-living honeybees in an agricultural landscape. Biological Conservation 266:109450 ttps:// *equal contribution


George EA, Thulasi N, Kohl PL, Suresh S, Rutschmann B, Brockmann A (2021). Distance estimation by Asian honey bees in two visually different landscapes. Journal of Experimental Biology jeb.242404.

Kohl PL & Rutschmann B (2021). Honey bees communicate distance via non-linear waggle duration functions. PeerJ 9:e11187 DOI 10.7717/peerj.11187

Young AM*, Kohl PL*, Rutschmann B*, Steffan-Dewenter I, Brockmann A, Dyer FC (2021). Temporal and spatial foraging patterns of three Asian honey bee species in Bangalore, India. Apidologie.  *equal contribution


Kohl PL, Thulasi N, Rutschmann B, George EA, Steffan-Dewenter I, & Brockmann A (2020). Adaptive evolution of honeybee dance dialects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B287(1922), 20200190. 


Cammarosano M, Weirauch K, Maruhn F, Jendritzki G, Kohl PL* (2019). They Wrote on Wax. Wax Boards in the Ancient Near East. Mesopotamia LIV (2019), 121-180. *contribution to a chapter on honey bees and traditional apiculture 

Requier F, Garnery L, Kohl PL, Njovu HK, Pirk CW, Crewe RM & Steffan-Dewenter I (2019). The conservation of native honey bees is crucial. Trends in ecology & evolution34(9), 789-798. 


Kohl PL* & Rutschmann B* (2018). The neglected bee trees: European beech forests as a home for feral honey bee colonies. PeerJ6, e4602. *equal contribution

popular science articles


Rutschmann B, Kohl PL, Roth S (2018). Beelining – wie man wildlebende Honigbienen findet. Deutsches Bienenjournal  7/2018 pp.13–15

Kohl PL, Rutschmann B (2018). Versteckt und unerforscht – wildlebende Honigbienen in unseren Wäldern. Deutsches Bienenjournal 6/2018 pp.16–17