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The specialist international beekeeping organisation
There is sometimes confusion over what constitutes a subspecies or a race of honey bees. The differentiation is based either on morphometry: the measurement of body parts such as wing veins, tongue and hair lengths, or on genetic analysis which is rapidly increasing our understanding of the relationships between various species and races of honey bees.
The great range of habitats with different climates (across Africa, Europe, the Middle East) where Apis mellifera occurs naturally, has enabled the evolution of significant variation in the biology and behaviour of this species of honey bee in these different environments. There are therefore many races of Apis mellifera, and the race being utilised can have a considerable impact on practical beekeeping. There is also great variation within races, and selection and hybridisation between races has resulted in considerable differences in honey bee types. These differences can significantly affect the suitability of a particular race to be productive in a given location. A race of bees that does well in one place will not automatically do well in another.
This has been dramatically shown by the rapid displacement of the European derived Apis mellifera honey bees that were used by beekeepers in South and Central America before the arrival of the 'Africanised bees' that were first introduced to Brazil in 1956. These are now the predominant races of Apis mellifera throughout tropical areas of South and Central America and the southern states of the USA. These bees, known as African bees in the Americas, have different biological and behavioural characteristics to European races of Apis mellifera. The import and subsequent escape and feral development of the original African bees demonstrates how much better adapted they were to the tropical environment.
Like Apis mellifera, Apis cerana occurs naturally across a very wide geographical area, from temperate zone in the north to tropical Asia, and has a number of races. These races differ in their biology and behaviour, and the race being utilised may have profound effects on the viability of beekeeping with Apis cerana in different parts of Asia. In some countries, problems with managing tropical races of Apis cerana have resulted in pressure to import the exotic species Apis mellifera with all the associated problems that this may engender.
In practice, the most productive honey bee race in any given district is likely to be the existing, locally adapted honey bees especially where these have had some additional bee breeding or selection activity for appropriate characteristics undertaken by local beekeepers.
3 documents and 2 reference documents found
Rosenthal C.; Efrat H.; Kamer I.; Ron M., published 30/11/1989, International Symposium on Recent Research on Bee Pathology 63-66 undefined
Conference Proceedings (pdf file) in English
By Dewey M Caron University of Delaware USA Human association with honeybees is a long one. We have and continue to move bees beekeeping equipment and the products of bees as we travel. Thus ...
Caron D.M., published 2002, Bees for Development Journal Text on this website
Journal in English
Caron D., published 30/11/2004, Bees for Development Journal 77 9 PDF on this website
Article (pdf file) in English
The following documents are not available for download. There is a copy in the Bees for development library. Please contact us for access.
Nitschmann H.J., published 2010, Deutsches Bienen Journal 6 2010 32
Article in German
Honeybee species in China were studied on the basis of their geographicaldistribution and differences in morphology ecology and biochemistry including esterase enzymes. It is concluded ...
Kuang B Y Li Y Q, published 1988, Scientia Agricultura Sinica 21 2 85 - 90
Paper in Chinese
African honey bees in the Americas, or Africanised bees as they are known, were first introduced into Brazil in 1956. Being a tropical ecotype of Apis mellifera , it quickly replaced the less ...
Apis mellifera capensis , known as the Cape honey bee, is a race of Apis mellifera whose natural distribution is confined to the southern tip of Africa, and which has a unique, highly complex ...