Species and Subspecies of Hive Bees

Species and Sub-Spices of Hive Bees

    It is important to know difference between a species and subspecies. Species are reproductively isolated from each other and these cannot interbreed where as subspecies are geographically isolated and can interbreed
    Among the two domestic bee species, each has many subspecies in different parts of the world e.g. Apis cerana has three subspecies in India:
    A. cerana cerana in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir (North India)
    A. cerana indica in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka. (South India)
    A. cerana himalaya in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya. (Eastern parts of India)
    In addition to above three subspecies, A. cerana japonica has been identified from Japan.
    A. mellifera has many subspecies which can be placed under three groups:
    1. Eastern subspecies
    2. European subspecies
    3. African subspecies
    Eastern subspecies:
    i. Apis mellifera remipes (in Iran)
    ii. A. mellifera syriaca (in Syria, Israel and Lebanon)
    These subspecies are not suitable for modern beekeeping
    European subspecies:
    i. A. mellifera mellifera (Dark Dutch or German bee)
    ii. A. mellifera carnica (Carniolan bee; in Southern Austria)
    iii. A. mellifera ligustica (Italian bee; Italy)
    iv. A. mellifera caucasica (Caucasican bee; USSR)
    African subspecies:
    Some of the important subspecies are:

    i. A. mellifera intermissa (Tellian bee; Morocco and Lybia)
    ii. A. mellifera lamarckii (Egyptian bee; restricted to the Nile Valley)
    iii. A. mellifera capensis (Cape bee; the only bee which can rear queen from eggs laid by workers)
    iv. A. mellifera adansonii (African bee; also known as killer bee)
    In India, all the four bee species are found. A. mellifera is an exotic bee which was introduced in India for the first time successfully in 1962 at Nagrota Bagwan, Himachal Pradesh. Honey yield from this species from stationary beekeeping varies from 10-15 kg/colony but through migration yield increases to 45-60 kg/colony. One beekeeper in Himachal has extracted as much as 110kg honey from a single colony of A. mellifera which is indicative of its potentials.
    Other species found in different parts of the world: In addition to the four Apis honey bee species, more species have been reported from some parts of the world.
    i. Apis laboriosa (from Bhutan, Yunnan and Nepal)
    ii. A. breviligula (from Philippines)
    iii. A. binghami (from Sulawesi)
    Above three species resemble A. dorsata and are wild
    iv. A. andreniformis (from China) It resembles A. florea.
    v. A. koschevnikovi (from Malaysia)
    vi. A. nuluensis (from Malaysia, Indonesia)
    vii. A. nigrocincta (from Indonesia).
    These three species (v - vii) resemble A. cerana.
    Stingless honey bees:
    In addition to honey bees of genus Apis, stingless honey bees also provide honey which are:
    i) Melipona sp.
    ii) Trigona sp.
    These bees are also domesticated, but produce little amount of honey.
    Pollen bees: All the honey bee species are good pollinators besides being honey producers. In addition to these, there are more than 20000 species of other bees which help in pollination. It should be clear that all bees are not honey bees. Batra (1992) has even separated non Apis bees in a separate group of ‘pollen bees’ that includes all bees except honey bees which help in pollination.

Last modified: Monday, 4 March 2013, 8:18 AM