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.
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.
As with all species of honey bees, bees in the subgenus Micrapis are generalists and visit a broad range of plants for food.
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).
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).
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most commonly intercepted species of honey bees, other than the western honey bee, at U.S. ports of entry (Smith-Pardo, unpublished data).