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Apis guide worldwide

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  • Michael Orr
    Hello, A guide for the Apis of the world has been completed. There are seven total species recognized, although there are hints of potential additional species
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2012
      Hello,


      A guide for the Apis of the world has been completed. There are seven total species recognized, although there are hints of potential additional species sprinkled throughout the Apis literature. I chose to avoid the inclusion of subspecies due to similar issues in the literature, many changes having been made to the subspecies in the past few decades. The three recognized subgenera are each quite distinctive and for this reason the subgenus character has been given a suite of characters to differentiate them. Within the subgenera, the two species of Micrapis are relatively straightforward to separate and the subgenus Megapis only has A. dorsata in it (with several subspecies not handled in the guide). The subgenus Apis is more difficult. A. mellifera is quickly and easily distinguished from the remaining three species, but these three species are somewhat harder to disentangle and are handled by rather lengthy characters as a result. 

      The use of behavioral characters in this guide is unfortunately limiting, given that most people netting a single worker bee in the field will not be able to go directly to its nest and examine whether or not there are pores in the drone cells. I decided to include these characters despite this, however, based upon the lack of good morphological characters in the Apis literature, as well as the limitations imposed upon myself in having only some subspecies of each species or no confirmed specimens (as in A. nigrocincta, the characters for this species being based upon the literature). Although there are some tenuous characters I found, I chose not to use these as I cannot be sure of whether or not it varies between the many subspecies some of the species contain. 

      A good deal of reference literature was examined in the making of this guide to doublecheck my characters. The works of Engel, Hadisoesilo, Otis, Ruttner, and Smith were all helpful for this purpose.  

      I should also note that I would appreciate any clues as to what labs may be performing molecular tests to determine whether or not submitted bees are Africanized. I don't currently know of any such lab so I've left it as a generic "contact the USDA" statement.

      The guide itself may be found here: 

      As always, any problems or suggestions for the guide should be directed to michael.christopher.orr@....


      Characters:
      SCORE THIS FIRST - Subgenus
      Apis - These are Apis which nest in cavities when possible, where they build multiple combs - They are mid-sized, USUALLY averaging somewhere around 10-13mm in length and with a forewing length of 7-10mm in the worker according to Engel, 1999 - Due to human use, this subgenus is found practically worldwide although some of the species have much more restricted distributions - Distal abscissa of vein M in hind wing is variable, either present or absent (cerana, koschevnikovi, mellifera, nigrocincta)
      Megapis - These are Apis which nest openly without shelter, building only a single comb in doing so - They are very large, USUALLY about 15mm or greater in length and with a forewing length of 12-15mm in the worker according to Engel, 1999 - The single species of this subgenus is found throughout much of the Pacific Islands north into Southeast Asia and west through Southern Asia and limited parts of Southern China, reaching at least as far west as Pakistan - Distal abscissa of vein M present in both sexes, meaning the closed cell which reaches farthest apically in the hind wing has TWO distinct veins coming off its tip (dorsata)
      Micrapis - These are Apis which nest openly without shelter, building only a single comb in doing so - They are very small, ALMOST ALWAYS averaging below 10mm in length and with a forewing length of 6-7mm in the worker according to Engel, 1999 - The two species of this subgenus are found throughout much of the Pacific Islands and more recently parts of Australia, ranging upward into Southwest and Eastern Asia as far north as Southern Russia, west through much of China at least as far as Afghanistan - Drones may be easily differentiated from other subgenera by the presence of a thumb-like process arising from the base of the hind basitarsus - Distal abscissa of vein M absent in both sexes, if appearing present then with only ONE vein extending off the farthest apically projecting cell (andreniformis, florea)


      A. andreniformis vs A. florea
      A. andreniformis - The drone may be immediately separated from that of A. florea by a much shorter thumb-like process on the hind basitarsus, this projection not reaching half the length of the basitarsus - T1-2 of the female is USUALLY entirely black of extremely weakly reddened such that it appears more brownish than orangish red - In the worker, the somewhat thicker, spiky hairs along the posterior edge of the hind basitarsus are BLACK in color
      A. florea - The drone may be immediately separated from that of A. andreniformis by a much longer thumb-like process on the hind basitarsus, this projection reaching well past halfway down the length of the basitarsus, usually at least two-thirds - T1-2 of the female is ALMOST ALWAYS strongly orangish to red in coloration, although some very few specimens have been seen with reddish-brown integument here - In the worker, the somewhat thicker, spiky hairs along the posterior edge of the hind basitarsus are a pale WHITE TO OFF-WHITE color


      A. nigrocincta vs A. cerana and A. koschevnikovi - Note that the author has not seen CONFIRMED specimens of A. nigrocincta and that this character is based upon the works of Hadisoesilo, Damus, and Engel - This species is a work in progress, its range is currently under debate because specimens thought to be A. nigrocincta from Sulawesi and Mindanao are considered distinctive from each other BUT they may be different subspecies of A. nigrocincta as both are also distinctive from known A. cerana
      A. nigrocincta - This species is noted to be slightly larger than average A. cerana with lighter overall body color and a distinctly more yellowish clypeus - The drone cells in this species are distinct from those of A. cerana and A. koschevnikovi, this due to the SOFTER cell and the lack of a pore - Based upon experiments in Sulawesi conducted by Hadisoesilo and Otis 1996, the drone flight time for this species is later in the day than is seen in A. cerana, this time averaging about 4-5pm although there was some observed variation between sites - The distribution of this species is potentially limited to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, although the lack of good identification literature makes it difficult to tell whether or not this is its true distribution
      Other species - A. cerana is supposedly slightly smaller and darker overall than A. nigrocincta and the clypeus is more brownish or dark orangish - There is a hard, funnel-like pore present in the drone cell cap of A. cerana and A. koschevnikovi which may be used to differentiate them from A. nigrocincta, this pore created by the cocoon spinning movements of the larva - Based upon experiments in Sulawesi conducted by Hadisoesilo and Otis 1996, A. cerana was shown to perform drone mating flights at an average time of about 2-3pm although there was some observed variation in timing among sites - The range of A. cerana is known to overlap that of confirmed A. nigrocincta but the range of A. koschevnikovi does not appear to overlap with that of the confirmed A. nigrocincta (cerana, koschevnikovi)


      A. koschevnikovi vs other species of the subgenus Apis - Note that the cubital index is measured from the vein comprising the bottom of the third submarginal cell, it is the ratio of the basal portion prior to the intersection of the second recurrent vein OVER the apical portion of the vein after the intersection of the second recurrent vein
      A. koschevnikovi - This bee is supposed to be distinctive for its reddish abdomen and legs, although the author has only seen specimens which appear at most a rather dull brownish-orange likely due to color alteration by method of trapping - The drone of this species may be easily distinguished from the others by the fact that the hairs running along the posterior edge of the hind tibia are much longer, at the longitudinal midpoint of the tibia they are about equal in length to about half of the tibial width - The cubital index is about 7-8, making the basal portion about 7-8x longer than the apical portion of the vein - The forewing length averaged a little over 8.5mm among observed workers - Like A. cerana and unlike A. nigrocincta, there is a funnel-like pore in the HARD drone cell cap - This species is larger than the sympatric groups of A. cerana in direct comparison - This species is known from Borneo, peninsular Malaysia, and Sumatra
      Other species - A. cerana is supposed to be a darker, more brownish bee in general aspect and A. nigrocincta is somewhat lighter and likely more easily confused with A. koschevnikovi based on color than A. cerana is - There are very small, short hairs running along the posterior edge of the hind tibia, these hairs clearly equal in length to less than a fourth the width of the tibia at its longitudinal midpoint - The cubital index is about 4, making the basal portion about four times the length of the apical portion of the vein - The forewing length averaged a little over 8.5mm in observed workers of the likely sympatric A. cerana - The drone cell cap is variable in form, hard with a funnel-like pore in A. cerana and softer without such a pore in A. nigrocincta - The body size of the groups of A. cerana that are sympatric with A. koschevnikovi are smaller in direct comparison - The distribution of A. nigrocincta SHOULD exclude it from the regions noted above where A. koschevnikovi has been collected BUT A. cerana is known from these areas (cerana, nigrocincta)


      A. mellifera vs other species of the subgenus Apis - Hindwing, farthest apically-projecting cell, number of veins which project apically from the tip of this cell WITHOUT meeting to form a closed cell
      A. mellifera - There is one vein present here, arising from the very tip of the  radius vein in the hind wing
      Other species - There are two veins present here, arising from the very tips of the radius and M veins (cerana, koschevnikovi, nigrocincta)


      A. mellifera vs Africanized hybrid bees
      It is extremely difficult to separate the so-called killer bees from the introduced European subspecies originally introduced to the New World. Although the African subspecies A. mellifera scutellata through which the hybridization was performed is smaller than many European subspecies, the hybrids are found to be close enough in size to the European subspecies that they cannot be distinguished this way. At this point the most reliable method of testing is molecular, although this is limiting in that you need access to a lab for analysis. In terms of geographic range, the Africanized honey bee has been reported throughout much of the southern US so far. It was initially stalled upon entering Texas but more recent reports have confirmed their presence in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Southern Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia. If you believe that you have found these hybrids in additional areas then please contact the USDA.


      -Michael
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