Amssalu Bezabeh carried out this research for his PhD thesis at Holeta Bee Research Centre. Here we provide a summary of his findings. A full paper has been submitted to the Journal Apiacta.
Africa is thought to be the origin of Apis mellifera, the honey bee species that occurs in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. A review of Apis mellifera reported the presence of 22 honey bee races and 10 valid geographical races in Africa (Engel, 1999). The taxonomy, biology, behaviour and distribution of African races of honey bees have been little studied compared with European races.
Knowledge of the taxonomy of Ethiopian honey bees is minimal. No detailed morphometric analyses have been conducted apart from those of Smith (1961), Ruttner (1975), Kassaye (1990) and Radloff & Hepburn (1997a). These studies indicate the presence of different African races including Apis mellifera adansonii, A m bandasii, A m jemenitica, A m litorea, A m monticola, A m scutellata, and A m sudanensis, but the results are not in accord. Besides, none of the results indicated the distribution, behaviour and biology of honey bees within Ethiopia.
Some of the studies did not use adequate sample sizes during the analysis. To resolve the ambiguity of information about Ethiopian honey bee races and to establish greater knowledge of them, a more detailed study, geographically broader in scope, and with a finer sampling distance resolution (100 km) was conducted. Accordingly, five statistically distinct morpho-clusters occupying different agro-ecologies were identified: Apis mellifera bandasii, A m jemenitica, A m monticola, A m scutellata and A m Woyi-Gambella (Amssalu et al, 2004; Amssalu, 2003; Nuru, 2003).
A m Woyi-Gambella differs from all other African honey bee groups and is endemic to Ethiopia.
AMSSALU, B. (2002) Multivariate Morphometric analysis and behaviour of honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) in southern regions of Ethiopia. PhD thesis, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.
AMSSALU, B.; NURU, A.; RADLOFF, S.E.; HEPBURN, H. (2004) Multivariat morphometric analyses of honeybees (Apis mellifera) in the Ethiopian Region. Apidologie 35: 71-81.
ENGEL, M.S (1999) The taxonomy of recent and fossil honeybees (Hymenoptera: Apidea; Apis). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 8: 165-196.
KASSAYE, A. (1990) The honeybee (Apis mellifera) of Ethiopia: A morphometric study. MSc thesis, Agricultural University of Norway.
NURU, A. (2002) Geographical races of the honeybees (Apis mellifera L) of the northern region of Ethiopia. PhD thesis. Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.
RADLOFF, S. E.; HEPBURN, H. R. (1997) Multivariate analysis of honeybees, Apis mellifera L of the Horn of Africa. African Entomology 5: 57-64.
RUTTNER, F. (1975) African races of honeybees. Proceedings of XXVth International Beekeeping Congress, Grenoble, 325–344.
SMITH, F. G. (1961) Beekeeping in the tropics.
Published in Bees for Development Journal 88, September 2008