Species of Honey Bees
There are four species of honey bees in India. They are the glant rock bee (Apis dorsata F.), the little bee (Apis florea F.), and the Dammer bee or mosquito bee, (Melipona iridipennis Dal) and Indian honeybee (Apis indica). In Europe and America, the Italian bee Apis mellifera is extensively reared. It is very closely similar to (Apis indica).
1. Apis dorsata:
It is the largest of the honey bees. It builds an open single comp of huge size about a meter in diameter. The comb is fully exposed and huge from inaccessible branches of trees, along the sides of steep rocks in the forest and even from the walls, rafters and other parts of buildings. It produces plenty of honey and the annual yield from a colony is about 37 kg. The rock bee honey represents a major portion of the honey sold in our markets. It is impossible to domesticate it because of its irritable and ferocious nature.
2. Apis florea:
It is known as little bee since it is the smallest of three species of Apis. It is seen only in the plaints. It also builds single but small combs on bushy plants and corners of roofs. It yields very little honey, about 0.5 to 1.0 kg. per year from a colony.
3. Apis indica:
It is the common Indian bee found both in the forests as well as in plains throughout our country. It is smaller than rock bee but larger than little bee. This bee builds many parallel combs in the cavities and hollows of trees, caves and such other hidden sites. It is mild and is the only form capable of being domesticated and is commonly reared in South India. The annual yield of honey is 2 to 5 per colony
4. Melipona iridipennis:
The dammer bee is very tiny with a vestigial sting and is different from the former three species in appearance and habits. It inhabits crevices in walls and hollow trunks of trees. The comb is made up of a dark material called ‘cerumen’ which is a mixture of wax and earth or resin. It is very poor honey gatherer and yields only 60 to 180 per year.
5. Apis mellifera:
It is the Italian bee which swarms less and has good honey gathering qualities, yielding about 45-180 kg per year.