The Genus Apis Known Species

The genus Apis contains 11 known species. A. mellifera (Fig. 1) is the source of most of the world's honey. It is native throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Europe except for the far north regions. All other Apis species are native to Asia. A. cerana, which is kept in hives in the temperate zone as well as the tropics, is smaller than A. mellifera, and it makes smaller colonies. Other Asian species that build a multiple-comb nest in a cavity are A. koschevnikovi and A. nuluensis reported in Borneo, and A. nigrocincta in Sulawesi.

Other Apis species native in parts of the Asian tropics build a single-comb nest in the open. The most important to humans is A. dorsata, a bee much larger than A. cerana. A. laboriosa, which is even larger, lives in parts of the Himalayas too high for A. dorsata. Much smaller than A. cerana, A. florea is widespread below around 500 m and can live in drier areas than A. dorsata.

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