Tribe: Apini Latreille, 1802
Genus: Apis Linnaeus, 1758
Subgenus: Apis (Megapis) Ashmead, 1904
Species: Apis laboriosa Smith, 1871
Common names: Himalayan honey bee or cliff bee honey bee
Apis laboriosa is the largest species of honey bee known at present. Its distribution is restricted, and some of its nesting behaviors are unique.
Specimens of A. laboriosa can be differentiated from other species of honey bees by the following combination of characters:
It can be differentiated from the other species in the subgenus A. (Megapis) (i.e. Apis dorsata) by the following combination of characters:
As all species of honey bees, A. laboriosa is polylectic and visits a broad range of plants for food.
Nests are constructed in the open and consist of a single comb that almost always hangs from rock cliffs at high altitudes. In contrast with Apis dorsata, there are no reports of nest aggregations for this species.
There are no races or variations reported for this species. Apis laboriosa was previously thought to be a subspecies of Apis dorsata.
This bee occurs in mountainous areas of Nepal, Bhutan, India, and the province of Yunnan in China (Batra 1995, Ahmad and Roy 2000).