Bees for Development respects your right to privacy so the only web cookies this website deploys are those which are strictly necessary for its correct operation and which enhance the experience of our site visitors – no personally identifiable information is collected. If you continue to browse our website we will assume that you are happy with our policy and to receive cookies from our website. If you choose to follow a link to third-party website please be aware that other organisations may have different cookie deployment policies from our own. You can change your cookie preferences in your web browser at any time.
The specialist international beekeeping organisation
Bees and flowering plants have evolved during a period of 130 million years to become increasingly dependent upon one another. Today there are 20,000-30,000 species of bees of which around 16,000 have been scientifically described. Ancestors of honey bees emerged 40 million years ago, with a modern type of open nesting species appearing in south east Asia around 10 million years ago. Subsequently species that nested inside cavities appeared, eventually spreading throughout tropical and temperate Asia and into Europe. These European bees became isolated from the Asian species as desert developed in the Middle East, and evolved into the species that we know today as Apis mellifera, with an indigenous distribution stretching from the Arctic Circle to South Africa, and with eastern limits of the Ural Mountains in the north and the central deserts of Afghanistan in the south. The cavity-nesting bees in Asia evolved into Apis cerana and the several other cavity nesting species of Apis known today. The open nesting species gave rise to the several types of open nesting species existing today. Thus, Asia has a diversity of Apis species, while Europe and Africa have just one species. However, it is this single species, Apis mellifera, upon which the world's industrialised beekeeping sector is based.