List of Apis mellifera subspecies
Subspecies of Europe
- Apis mellifera adami, classified by Ruttner, 1975 - (the Cretan honey bee) The island of Crete.
- Apis mellifera artemisia, classified by Engel, 1999 - (the Russian steppe honey bee) The steppes of Russia.
- Apis mellifera carnica, classified by Pollmann, 1879 - (the Carniolan honey bee) The Carniola region of Slovenia, the Eastern Alps and the northern Balkans - popular with beekeepers due to its extreme gentleness. The Carniolan honey bee tends to be quite dark in color and the colonies are known to shrink to small populations over winter and build very quickly in spring. It is a mountain bee in its native range and is a good bee for colder climates.
- Apis mellifera caucasia (commonly misspelled as caucasica), classified by Pollmann, 1889 - (the Caucasian honey bee) The central Caucasus.
- Apis mellifera cecropia, classified by Kiesenwetter, 1860 - (the Greek honey bee) Southern Greece.
- Apis mellifera cypria, classified by Pollmann, 1879 - (the Cyprus honey bee) The island of Cyprus - this subspecies has the reputation of being very fierce compared to the Italian subspecies, from which it is isolated by the Mediterranean Sea.
- Apis mellifera iberiensis (commonly misspelled as iberica), classified by Engel, 1999 - (the Spanish honey bee) The Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).
- Apis mellifera ligustica, classified by Spinola, 1806 - (the Italian honey bee) The most commonly kept subspecies in North America, South America and southern Europe. They are kept commercially all over the world. They are very gentle, not very likely to swarm and produce a large surplus of honey. They have few undesirable characteristics. Colonies tend to maintain larger populations through winter, so they require more winter stores (or feeding) than other temperate zone subspecies. The Italian honey bee is light-colored and mostly leather-colored, but some strains are golden.
- Apis mellifera macedonica, classified by Ruttner, 1988 - (the Macedonian honey bee) Northern Greece (Macedonia and Thrace), North Macedonia. Possibly synonymous with A. m. artemisia (the Russian steppe honey bee; see above) as described by Engel, 1999.
- Apis mellifera mellifera, classified by Linnaeus, 1758 - (the German honey bee) the dark-colored bee of northern Europe, also called the German black honey bee or the European dark honey bee. Domesticated in modern times and taken to North America in colonial times.
- Apis mellifera ruttneri, classified by Sheppard, Arias, Grech & Meixner in 1997 - (the Maltese honey bee) The Maltese islands.
- Apis mellifera remipes, classified by Gerstäcker, 1862 (armeniaca is a junior synonym) - (the Armenian honey bee) The Caucasus, Iran, the Caspian Sea.
- Apis mellifera siciliana, classified by Grassi, 1881 (sicula is a junior synonym) - (the Sicilian honey bee) The Trapani province and the island of Ustica of western Sicily (Italy).
- Apis mellifera sossimai, classified by Engel, 1999 (includes the former Apis cerifera, classified by Gerstaecker, 1862) - (the Ukrainian honey bee) Ukraine (except for Crimea) and the northern Caucasus.
- Apis mellifera taurica, classified by Alpatov, 1935 - (the Crimean honey bee) Crimea.
Subspecies of Africa
Several researchers and beekeepers describe a general trait of the various African subspecies which is absconding, where the Africanized honey bee colonies abscond the hive in times when food stores are low, unlike the European honey bee colonies, which tend to die in the hive.
- Apis mellifera adansonii, classified by Latreille, 1804 - (the West African honey bee) Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
- Apis mellifera capensis, classified by Eschscholtz, 1822 - (the Cape honey bee) South Africa.
- Apis mellifera intermissa, classified by von Buttel-Reepen, 1906; Maa, 1953 (major is a junior synonym) - (the Tunisian honey bee) The northern part of Africa in the general area of Morocco, Libya and Tunisia. These bees are totally black in color. They are extremely fierce, but do not attack without provocation. They are industrious and hardy, but have many negative qualities that argue against their being favored in the honey or pollination industry.
- Apis mellifera jemenitica, classified by Ruttner, 1976 (nubica is a junior synonym) - (the Arabian honey bee) Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and Yemen.
- Apis mellifera lamarckii, classified by Cockerell, 1906 - (the Egyptian honey bee) The Nile Valley of Egypt and Sudan. This mitotype can also be identified in honey bees from California.
- Apis mellifera litorea, classified by Smith, 1961 - (the East African coastal honey bee) The low elevations of East Africa.
- Apis mellifera monticola, classified by Smith, 1961 - (the East African mountain honey bee) The high altitude mountains at elevation between 1,500 and 3,100 metres of East Africa (Mt. Elgon, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya and Mt. Meru).
- Apis mellifera sahariensis, classified by Baldensperger, 1932 - (the Saharan honey bee) The Moroccan desert oases of Northwest Africa. This subspecies faces few predators other than humans and is therefore very gentle. Moreover, because of the low density of nectar-producing vegetation around the oases it colonizes, it forages up to five miles, much farther than subspecies from less arid regions. Other authorities say that while colonies of this species are not much inclined to sting when their hives are opened for inspection, they are, nevertheless, highly nervous.
- Apis mellifera scutellata, classified by Lepeletier, 1836 - (the East African lowland honey bee) Central and East Africa; also as hybrid populations in South America, Central America and the southern United States. In an effort to address concerns by Brazilian beekeepers and to increase honey production in Brazil, Warwick Kerr, a Brazilian geneticist, was asked by Brazilian federal and state authorities in 1956 to import several pure East African lowland queens from Tanzania to Piracicaba, São Paulo State in southern Brazil. Due to a mishap, some of the queens escaped. The East African lowland queens eventually mated with local European honey bee drones and produced what is now known as the Africanized honey bee in South and North America. The intense struggle for survival of western honey bees in Sub-Saharan Africa is given as the reason that this subspecies is proactive in defending the hive and also more likely to abandon an existing hive and swarm to a more secure location. They direct more of their energies to defensive behaviors and less of their energies to honey storage. East African lowland honey bees are leather-colored and difficult to distinguish by eye from the darker strains of the Italian honey bee.
- Apis mellifera simensis, classified by Meixner et al, 2011 - (the Ethiopian honey bee) Ethiopia.
- Apis mellifera unicolor, classified by Latreille, 1804 - (the Madagascan honey bee) Madagascar.
Subspecies of the Middle East and Asia
- Apis mellifera anatoliaca (commonly misspelled as anatolica), classified by Maa, 1953 - (the Anatolian honey bee) This subspecies is typified by colonies in the central region of Anatolia in Turkey and Iraq (range extends as far east as Armenia). It has many good characteristics, but is rather unpleasant to deal with in and around the hive.
- Apis mellifera meda, classified by Skorikov, 1929 - (the Persian honey bee) Iran.
- Apis mellifera pomonella, classified by Sheppard & Meixner, 2003 - (the Tian Shan honey bee) The Tian Shan Mountains in Central Asia.
- Apis mellifera sinisxinyuan, (the Xinyuan honey bee) Discovered in 2016 in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, this subspecies has a range that is the farthest east known for the species.
- Apis mellifera syriaca, classified by Skorikov, 1929 - (the Syrian honey bee) The Near East and Israel.
- Michael S. Engel (1999). "The taxonomy of recent and fossil honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Apis)". Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 8: 165–196. hdl:1808/16476.
- Ivanova, Evgeniya N.; Petrov, Plamen; Bouga, Maria; Kence, Meral (2010). "Genetic variation in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) populations from Bulgaria". Journal of Apicultural Science. 2 (2): 49–59.
- Fontana, Paolo; et al. (2018). "Appeal for biodiversity protection of native honey bee subspecies of Apis mellifera in Italy" (PDF). Bulletin of Insectology. 71 (2): 257–271. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- Nielsen, D.I.; Ebert, P.R.; Page, R.E.; Hunt, G.J.; Guzmán-Novoa, E. (January 2000). "Improved Polymerase Chain Reaction-Based Mitochondrial Genotype Assay for Identification of the Africanized Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae)". Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 93 (1): 1–6. doi:10.1603/0013-8746(2000)093[0001:IPCRBM]2.0.CO;2.
- Abramson, Charles I.; Aquino, Italo S. (2002). "Behavioral Studies of Learning in the Africanized Honey Bee (Apis mellifera L.)". Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 59 (1–2): 68–86. doi:10.1159/000063734. PMID 12097861.
- Meixner, Marina D.; Leta, Messele Abebe; Koeniger, Nikolaus; Fuchs, Stefan (2011). "The honey bees of Ethiopia represent a new subspecies of Apis mellifera—Apis mellifera simensis n. ssp" (PDF). Apidologie. 42 (3): 425–437. doi:10.1007/s13592-011-0007-y.
- Sheppard, Walter S.; Meixner, Marina D. (July 2003). ", a new honey bee subspecies from Central Asia" (PDF). Apidologie. 34 (4): 367–375. doi:10.1051/apido:2003037.
- Chao Chen; et al. (January 27, 2016). "Genomic Analyses Reveal Demographic History and Temperate Adaptation of the Newly Discovered Honey Bee Subspecies Apis mellifera sinisxinyuan n. ssp". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 33 (5): 1337–1348. doi:10.1093/molbev/msw017.
- Media related to Apis mellifera subspecies at Wikimedia Commons