List of honey bee races

List of honey bee races

Races of honey bees

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(s) 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 races of "Apis mellifera", since all American honey bees have been imported at some point after 1492. Lacking systematic and widespread DNA analyses it is difficult to estimate which subspecies predominate there, and it is probably more realistic to treat most feral populations as belonging to undefined hybrid lineages.

There are also certain lineages of honey bees whose rank is below that of subspecies (particularly within the nominate subspecies, "A. m. mellifera"), being little more than color variants or domesticated lineages ("strains") that may not be correlated with distinct native distributions; these are "races" in the most restrictive sense, and are often referred to as "breeds". These were often given their own scientific names when originally described, but modern zoological nomenclature does not recognize the names given to these forms as valid (only ranks of subspecies and above have formal scientific names in zoology). Lineages of known hybrid origin, such as africanized bees and Buckfast bees, also do not have formal names.

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 normally 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 workers may only be half-sisters, and their colors and other characteristics may differ.

The insects we call honey bees are divided into several species. In Europe, the Americas and Australia the term "honey bee" 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 several other recognized honey bee species, most notably "Apis cerana", "Apis dorsata", and "Apis florea". The first two of these species have subspecies.

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

ee also

External links

* [ Brother Adam's online book] - Useful information on the races of "Apis mellifera".
* [ Carniolian Bee - Queen bee Jelly Information]

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