Apis (Micrapis)

Taxonomy

Family: Apidae
Subfamily: Apinae
Tribe: Apini Latreille, 1802
Genus: Apis Linnaeus, 1758
Subgenus: Micrapis Ashmead, 1904
Species: Apis andreniformis, Apis florea
Common name: dwarf honey bees

Overview

Honey bees in the subgenus Micrapis are the smallest in size (body length of 10 mm or less and forewing length of 7 mm or less) and are considered the most primitive honey bees, in part for their nesting behavior (nest in the open formed by horizontal comb), and for their dance which is done on a horizontal comb.

Diagnostic characteristics

  • Drones larger (around 12 mm body length) than workers.
  • Nests have special queen cells.
  • Distance between the lateral ocelli is much larger than the distance between these ocelli to the margin of the compound eye.
  • Drones with thumb-like process on the base of the hind basitarsus (digit present).

May be confused with

Honey bees in the subgenus Micrapis can be confused with honey bees in other subgenera, but they can be easily separated by their small size and by their small nests composed of horizontal combs. They may be also be confused with some genera of stingless bees (tribe Meliponini), but they can be differentiated from these by the presence of a sting and a rastellum in the workers.

Host associations

As with all species of honey bees, bees in the subgenus Micrapis are generalists and visit a broad range of plants for food.

Nesting behavior

Bees in the subgenus Micrapis build their nests exposed on tree branches or other structures. Their nests are also characteristic in their small size and horizontal combs (as opposed to the vertical combs built by all other honey bees).

Diversity

There are two species in this subgenus: Apis andreniformis and Apis florea. The two species have been considered different species based on their morphology (Ruttner 1975, Kuang and Li 1985, Wu and Kuang 1986, 1987; Ruttner 1988, Wongsiri et al. 1990, Chen 1993), nest structure (Dung et al. 1996, Rinderer et al. 1996), morphometry (Rinderer et al. 1995), allozyme polymorphism (Nunamaker et al. 1984, Li et al. 1986, Gan et al., 1991), mtDNA sequence divergences (Smith 1991, Nanork et al. 2001), and by differences in the timing of mating flights (Rinderer et al. 1993).

Known invasives

Out of the two species in the subgenus, Apis florea is the most invasive, and since the 1980s has invaded the African continent (Bezabih et al. 2014) and expanded into the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East (Hepburn et al. 2005, Haddad et al. 2009). It is also one of the most commonly intercepted species of honey bees, other than the western honey bee, at U.S. ports of entry (Smith-Pardo, unpublished data).

Distribution

The two species in the subgenus occur in southeastern Asia with the distribution of Apis florea extending further west to Africa (Hepburn et al. 2005, Otis 1991).



​Distribution map generated by Discover Life -- click on map for details, credits, and terms of use.

<p>Fig 1, <em>Apis andreniformus</em> male face, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 1, Apis andreniformus male face, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 2, <em>Apis andreniformus</em> male lateral, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 2, Apis andreniformus male lateral, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 3, <em>Apis andreniformus</em> male abdomen, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 3, Apis andreniformus male abdomen, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 4, <em>Apis andreniformus</em> female face, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 4, Apis andreniformus female face, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 5, <em>Apis andreniformus</em> female lateral, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 5, Apis andreniformus female lateral, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 6, <em>Apis andreniformus</em> female abdomen, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 6, Apis andreniformus female abdomen, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 7, <em>Apis florea</em> male face, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 7, Apis florea male face, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 8, <em>Apis florea</em> male lateral, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 8, Apis florea male lateral, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 9, <em>Apis florea</em> male abdomen, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 9, Apis florea male abdomen, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 10, <em>Apis florea</em> female face, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 10, Apis florea female face, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 11, <em>Apis florea</em>, female lateral, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 11, Apis florea, female lateral, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 12, <em>Apis florea</em> female abdomen, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 12, Apis florea female abdomen, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 13, <em>Apis andreniformus</em> male hind basitarsus, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 13, Apis andreniformus male hind basitarsus, photo: T. Brady
<p>Fig 14, <em>Apis florea</em> male hind basitarsus, photo: T. Brady</p>
Fig 14, Apis florea male hind basitarsus, photo: T. Brady