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Volume 33, Number 2, March-April 2002
The Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis). From laying workers to social parasites
Page(s) 105 - 127

Apidologie 33 (2002) 105-127
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002001

Apis mellifera capensis: an essay on the subspecific classification of honeybees

Randall Hepburna and Sarah E. Radloffb

a  Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
b  Department of Statistics, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa

(Received 25 July 2001; revised 2 November 2001; accepted 11 January 2002)

The history of the classification of Apis mellifera capensis is traced. The distributions of the traits thelytoky, ovariole number and spermatheca size of workers are given. Thelytoky in workers extends over 240 000 km 2 and the ratio of female/male progeny in laying worker offspring is clinal. Ovariole numbers are also clinal but spermatheca size is not. Allozymically, southern African honeybees are homogeneous; but differ in mtDNA haplotypes and nuclear DNA diversity. Morphometric analyses yield three distinct morphoclusters (A. m. capensis, A. m. scutellata, and unnamed mountain bees). Conventional morphometric classification is incongruous with the mode of parthenogenesis and distribution of mtDNA and nuclear DNA diversity in the honeybees of southern Africa. The terms "A. m. capensis" and "A. m. scutellata" are only meaningful if the precise geographical origins of the bees are specified.

Key words: Apis mellifera capensis / Apis mellifera scutellata / classification / biogeography / thelytoky

Correspondence and reprints: Randall Hepburn

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002