Press Release - The biology of other Apis honey bees
publication date: Dec 2, 2013
International Bee Research Association
The world's longest established apicultural research publishers
The biology of other Apis honey bees
The western honey bee Apis mellifera is probably the world’s most studied insect, but beekeepers and bees scientists in the west sometimes forget that its close relatives in the genus Apis may be of significant economic importance. Published today in the Journal of Apicultural Research are five new papers which increase our understanding of these neglected species.
One paper studied the degree of inbreeding in the giant honey bee Apis dorsata, which is a major pollinator in the rainforests of Peninsular Malaysia, but unfortunately is threatened by frequent harvesting of its combs by honey hunters. The results, using DNA microsatellite markers showed that the queens of different nests were not closely related, and that the colonies had enough time to produce honey before they were harvested. Another paper studied the gut flora of Apis dorsata in Malaysia to determine whether colonies contained bacteria which might be of potential interest as probiotics.
A study in northern Thailand investigated the bee plants exploited by three honey bee species, the Eastern hive bee Apis cerana, Apis dorsata and the dwarf honey bee A. florea. The authors analysed pollen grains from the bees, and found that the most abundant pollen source was from Mimosa pudica, an interesting touch-sensitive plant often grown as a garden curiosity in the west, but which is considered as an invasive weed in other areas.
Finally, two studies looked at pests and diseases of the Eastern hive bee Apis cerana. One investigated pseudoscorpions, which are small relatives of spiders, which have previously been suggested as a possible biological control for the parasitic mite varroa. Pseudoscorpions were observed in Apis cerana colonies in Nepal, but it was concluded that they seem to prey on dead honey bees and larvae rather than on the mites. The other studied the gut parasite Nosema ceranae, which has already been detected in adults of managed A. cerana, managed non-native Apis mellifera and in wild Apis florea and Apis dorsata populations in the north of Thailand. As a comparison, a number of unmanaged (wild and feral) colonies of several species of honey bees in Northeast Thailand were sampled, and it was found that Nosema infection is not widespread, possibly because they possess some degree of resistance to the disease.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS:-1. The papers mentioned are available at: http://www.ibra.org.uk/articles/JAR-52-5-2013
2. The International Bee Research Association (“IBRA”) is the world's longest established apicultural research publishers and promotes the value of bees by providing information on bee science and beekeeping worldwide.
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International Bee Research Association