Further observations on characters and behaviour of Apis koschevnikovi, ‘The red bee' of Sabah
Kayiplakal P Mathew And Susan Mathew
The genus Apis Linn. has probably been studied and written about more than any other genus, excepting man. Even as late as 1987 the general consensus was that throughout the world there were only four species of bees in this genus, of which only Apis cerana and Apis mellifera could be kept and managed in hives for honey production. To the surprise of many apiculturists, colonies of honeybees that were strikingly different in colour and which do not match the description of any of the known Apis species or their subspecies, have now been found existing sympatrically with other honeybees in Sabah, E Malaysia. Sabahans distinguish between the two cavity-nesting, multi-comb indigenous types of honeybee and refer to them as 'Lebah Hitam' (black bee) and 'Lebah Merah' (red bee). The Canadian Beekeeping Consultant, Mr Dale Hooge, who was attached to KPD, (Koperasi Pembangunan Desa) Sabah, for three years, assumed that these bees were a race of A. ceranal. This was then also the opinion of scientists who had collected and studied the bees of S E Asia.