List of honeybee races

Races of honeybees

Some biologists use race synonymously with subspecies or, in botany, variety, to refer to divisions within a species. Pure representatives of any race are becoming ever rarer because humans have imported favored subspecies to regions that previously had distinctive type of their own, and the imported bees have interbred with the native bees. The best chance to find representatives of any subspecies is in the center or the most protected part of the subspecies' native area. In the Americas, there has been a great deal of mixing of a species of honeybee, Apis mellifera, since all honeybees have been imported at some point after 1492. Lacking systematic and widespread DNA analyses it is difficult to estimate which subspecies predominate there.

Differences in the colors of bees may be more pronounced in queens and drones; workers are much less easily differentiated by color. Drones are produced from the unfertilized eggs of queens and therefore their genetic characteristics depend entirely on those of the queen, whereas worker bees are produced from fertilized eggs, which means that each worker bee will share genetic characteristics. To make things even more complicated, a queen will generally mate several times before settling down to a life of egg laying, and the spermatozoa from her multiple matings are retained alive within her body. That means that the some workers may only be half-sisters, and their colors and other characteristics may differ.

The insects we call honeybees are divided into several species. In Europe, the Americas and Australia the term "honeybee" means a bee of the species Apis mellifera. They all spring from bees that originated in Europe and Africa. In other parts of the world there are three other recognized honeybee species: Apis dorsata, Apis florea, and Apis cerana. Each of these species has several subspecies or races.

See the article on Western honeybee (Apis mellifera) for a list of their commonly recognized subspecies.

See also Buckfast bee (the result of selective interbreeding of bees of several races of Apis mellifera)

External link

  • Brother Adam's online book ( - Useful information on the races of Apis mellifera.

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