There are more than 20,000 species of wild bees. Many species are solitary (e.g., mason bees, leafcutter bees (Megachilidae), carpenter bees and other ground-nesting bees).

Many others rear their young in burrows and small colonies (e.g., bumblebees and stingless bees). Some honey bees are wild e.g. the little honeybee (Apis florea), giant honeybee (Apis dorsata) and rock bee (Apis laboriosa).

Beekeeping, or apiculture, is concerned with the practical management of the social species of honey bees, which live in large colonies of up to 100,000 individuals. In Europe and America the species universally managed by beekeepers is the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera).

This species has several sub-species, such as the Italian bee (Apis mellifera ligustica), European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), and the Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica).

In the tropics, other species of social bees are managed for honey production, including the Asiatic honey bee (Apis cerana).

Mason bee

Eastern Snail Shell Mason Bee Osmia conjuncta

Mason bee is a name now commonly used for species of bees in the genus Osmia, of the family Megachilidae.

Mason bees are named for their habit of using mud or other “masonry” products in constructing their nests, which are made in naturally occurring gaps such as between cracks in stones or other small dark cavities.

When available, some species preferentially use hollow stems or holes in wood made by wood-boring insects.

Species of the genus include the orchard mason bee O. lignaria, the blueberry bee O. ribifloris, the hornfaced bee O. cornifrons, and the red mason bee O. bicornis.

The former two are native to the Americas, the third to eastern Asia, and the latter to the European continent, although O. lignaria and O. cornifrons have been moved from their native ranges for commercial purposes.

Over 300 species are found across the Northern Hemisphere. Most occur in temperate habitats within the Palearctic and Neartic zones, and are active from spring through late summer.

Carpenter bee

Carpenter bees are species in the genus Xylocopa of the subfamily Xylocopinae. The genus includes some 500 bees in 31 subgenera.

The common name “carpenter bee” derives from their nesting behavior; nearly all species burrow into hard plant material such as dead wood or bamboo. The main exceptions are species in the subgenus Proxylocopa; they dig nesting tunnels in suitable soil.

Characteristics

Many species in this enormous genus are difficult to tell apart; most species are all black, or primarily black with some yellow or white pubescence. Some differ only in subtle morphological features, such as details of the male genitalia.

Males of some species differ confusingly from the females, being covered in greenish-yellow fur. The confusion of species arises particularly in the common names; in India, for example, the common name for any all-black species of Xylocopa is bhanvra (or bhomora – ভোমোৰা – in Assamese), and reports and sightings of bhanvra or bhomora are commonly misattributed to a European species, Xylocopa violacea; however, this species is found only in the northern regions of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, and most reports of bhanvra, especially elsewhere in India, refer to any of roughly 15 other common black Xylocopa species in the region, such as X. nasalisX. tenuiscapa, or X. tranquebarorum.

Bumblebee

bumblebee (or bumble beebumble-bee, or humble-bee) is any of over 250 species in the genus Bombus, part of Apidae, one of the bee families.

This genus is the only extant group in the tribe Bombini, though a few extinct related genera (e.g., Calyptapis) are known from fossils.

They are found primarily in higher altitudes or latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, although they are also found in South America, where a few lowland tropical species have been identified.

European bumblebees have also been introduced to New Zealand and Tasmania. Female bumblebees can sting repeatedly, but generally ignore humans and other animals.

Most bumblebees are social insects that form colonies with a single queen. The colonies are smaller than those of honey bees, growing to as few as 50 individuals in a nest.

Cuckoo bumblebees are brood parasitic and do not make nests; their queens aggressively invade the nests of other bumblebee species, kill the resident queens and then lay their own eggs, which are cared for by the resident workers.

Cuckoo bumblebees were previously classified as a separate genus, but are now usually treated as members of Bombus.

Stingless bee

Stingless bees, sometimes called stingless honey bees or simply meliponines, are a large group of bees (about 500 species), comprising the tribe Meliponini (or subtribe Meliponina according to other authors).

They belong in the family Apidae, and are closely related to common honey bees, carpenter bees, orchid bees, and bumblebees.

 Meliponines have stingers, but they are highly reduced and cannot be used for defense, though these bees exhibit other defensive behaviors and mechanisms.

Meliponines are not the only type of “stingless” bee; all male bees and many female bees of several other families, such as Andrenidae, also cannot sting.Some stingless bees have painful and powerful bites.

Red dwarf honey bee(Apis florea )

The dwarf honey bee (or red dwarf honey bee), Apis florea, is one of two species of small, wild honey bees of southern and southeastern Asia.

It has a much wider distribution than its sister species, Apis andreniformis. First identified in the late 18th century, Apis florea is unique for its morphology, foraging behavior and defensive mechanisms like making a piping noise.

Apis florea have open nests and small colonies, which makes them more susceptible to predation than cavity nesters with large numbers of defensive workers. These honey bees are important pollinators and therefore commodified in countries like Cambodia.

Giant honey bee(Apis dorsata)

Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, is a honey bee of South and Southeast Asia, found mainly in forested areas such as the Terai of Nepal.

They are typically around 17–20 mm (0.7–0.8 in) long. Nests are mainly built in exposed places far off the ground, like on tree limbs, under cliff overhangs, and sometimes on buildings.

These social bees are known for their aggressive defense strategies and vicious behavior when disturbed. Though not domesticating it, indigenous peoples have traditionally used this species as a source of honey and beeswax, a practice known as honey hunting.

Himalayan giant honey bee (Apis laboriosa)

Apis laboriosa, the Himalayan giant honey bee, is the world’s largest honey bee; single adults can measure up to 3.0 cm (1.2 in) in length.

Before 1980, Apis laboriosa was considered to be a subspecies of the widespread Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, but in 1980 and for almost 20 years thereafter it was elevated to the rank of a separate species.

It was classified once again as a subspecies of Apis dorsata by Engel in 1999, but was confirmed as a full species in 2020 on the basis of co-occurrence with Apis dorsata at many sites with no sign of interbreeding.

It is highly adapted to its highland habitat in behavior.

Western honey bee

The western honey bee or European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the most common of the 7–12 species of honey bees worldwide.

The genus name Apis is Latin for “bee”, and mellifera is the Latin for “honey-bearing”, referring to the species’ production of honey.

Like all honey bee species, the western honey bee is eusocial, creating colonies with a single fertile female (or “queen“), many normally non-reproductive females or “workers”, and a small proportion of fertile males or “drones“.

Individual colonies can house tens of thousands of bees. Colony activities are organized by complex communication between individuals, through both pheromones and the dance language.

The western honey bee was one of the first domesticated insects, and it is the primary species maintained by beekeepers to this day for both its honey production and pollination activities.

With human assistance, the western honey bee now occupies every continent except Antarctica. Western honey bees are threatened by pests and diseases, especially the Varroa mite and colony collapse disorder. As of 2019, the western honey bee is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List, as numerous studies indicate that the species has undergone significant declines in Europe; however, it is not clear if they refer to population reduction of wild or managed colonies.

European dark bee

The European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) is a subspecies of the western honey bee, whose original range stretched from west-central Russia through Northern Europe and probably down to the Iberian Peninsula. They belong to the ‘M’ lineage of Apis mellifera.

They are large for honey bees though they have unusually short tongues (5.7-6.4 mm) and traditionally were called the German Dark Bee or the Black German Bee,names still used today even though they are now considered an Endangered Breed in Germany.

Their common name is derived from their brown-black color, with only a few lighter yellow spots on the abdomen.

However today they are more likely to be called after the geographic / political region in which they live such as the British Black Bee, the Native Irish Honey Bee, the Cornish Black Bee and the Nordic Brown Bee, even though they are all the same subspecies, with the word “native” often inserted by local beekeepers, even in places where the bee is an introduced foreign species.

It was domesticated in Europe and hives were brought to North America in the colonial era in 1622 where they were referred to as the English Fly by the Native American Indians.

Carniolan honey bee

The Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica, Pollmann) is a subspecies of the western honey bee. The Carniolan honey bee is native to Slovenia, southern Austria, and parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

The Carniolan honey bee is the subspecies of the Western honey bee that has naturalised and adapted to the Kočevje (Gottschee) sub-region of Carniola (Slovenia), the southern part of the Austrian Alps, Dinarides region, southern Pannonian plain and the northern Balkans.

These bees are known as Carniolans, or “Carnies” for short, in English. At present this subspecies is the second most popular among beekeepers (after the Italian bee).

Asian honey bee

Apis cerana, the eastern honey bee, Asiatic honey bee or Asian honey bee, is a species of honey bee native to southern, southeastern, and eastern Asia.

This species is the sister species of Apis koschevnikovi and both are in the same subgenus as the western (European) honey bee, Apis mellifera.

A cerana is known to live sympatrically along with Apis koschevnikovi within the same geographic location. Apis cerana colonies are known for building nests consisting of multiple combs in cavities containing a small entrance, presumably for defense against invasion by individuals of another nest.

 The diet of this honey bee species consists mostly of pollen and nectar, or honey.Moreover, Apis cerana is known for its highly social behavior, reflective of its classification as a type of honey bee.

The terms Apis cerana indica and Apis Indica or Indian honey bee, is an historic term, with all Asian hive bees now referred to as Apis cerana.

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