Geographical distribution and population variation of Apis mellifera jemenitica Ruttner

publication date: Jun 6, 2013
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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 52 (3) pp. 124-133
DOI
10.3896/IBRA.1.52.3.03
Date
July 2013
Article Title

Geographical distribution and population variation of Apis mellifera jemenitica Ruttner

Author(s)
Ahmed A Al-Ghamdi, Adgaba Nuru, Mohammed S Khanbash and Deborah R Smith
Abstract

The races of Apis mellifera L. have evolved as a result of long periods of geographical isolation and ecological adaptation. Among these subspecies, A. m. jemenitica Ruttner 1976 (Rutter 1976c) is particularly interesting because it is the only race reported to occur naturally in both Africa and Asia. According to the literature, its natural distribution is extremely large, extending for 4,500 km from the Arabian Peninsula to West Africa. However, different populations of A. m. jemenitica exhibit a high degree of morphometric variation. Moreover, published classifications of the subspecies do not agree; different names, including A. m. nubi, A. m. sudanensis, and A. m. bandasii have been applied to different populations of A. m. jemenitica. Although African and Asian A. m. jemenitica are reported to be morphometrically similar, genetic data have not shown African A. m. jemenitica to be genetically closer to the Asian A. m. jemenitica than to adjacent, contiguous African subspecies like A. m. litorea, A. m. adansonii and A. m. scutellata, which exchange genes continuously. Moreover, the African and Asian groups differ in migratory, aggressive, and brood-rearing behaviours. Thus, categorizing the geographically-isolated Asian and the African groups of A. m. jemenitica as one honey bee race is questionable. The other important issue is that the present homelands of A. m. jemenitica (near East Asia and East Africa) have been suggested as the geographic origin of A. mellifera. The existence of close similar population in both continents may support the suggestion that either of these two regions as may be the centre of origin and diversification of Apis mellifera.

Keywords
Apis mellifera jemenitica, geographical distribution, population variability, morphometrics, behaviour, Africa, Asia
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