Apis Species

(Honey Bees)

Eva Crane

International Bee Research Association

Honey bees (genus Apis) are social insects in the family Apidae, order Hymenoptera; they are among the Aculeata (i.e., those having stingers). They evolved after the separation of the Americas and Australia from Eurasia/Africa and are native only in the Old World. The genus Apis probably first appeared in the Eocene, about 55 mya. Tropical species A. dorsata and A. florea existed by the end of the Oligocene 25 mya, and cavity-nesting A. mellifera and A. cerana, which can also live outside the tropics, were separate species by the end of the Pliocene about 2 mya. Therefore, the highly advanced cavity-nesting species have existed only perhaps a tenth as long as the open-nesting species, which were confined to the warmer tropics. The most important species to humans is A. mellifera, which has been introduced all over the world for use in beekeeping.

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