Free Access
Volume 22, Number 6, 1991
Evolution and genetics
Page(s) 567 - 580
Apidologie 22 (1991) 567-580
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19910601

Portrait of the Cape honeybee, Apis mellifera capensis

H.R. Hepburna and R.M. Creweb

a  Rhodes University, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Grahamstown, South Africa
b  University of Witwatersrand, Department of Zoology, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract - The honeybees of southern Africa were assessed for expression of the trait, diploid eggs laid by workers, worker ovariole number, spermatheca size, worker size and allozymes of malate dehydrogenase. A m capensis is readily defined in terms of the first 2 of these traits and may further be separated from A m scutellata by a suite of biological characteristics associated with laying worker development and behaviour, queenless cell building, foraging, thermoregulation and docility. The Cape honeybee occurs in the fynbos biome along the southwest and south coasts of South Africa extending into the interior as far as the mountains bordering on the Klein Karoo. From here it hybridizes with A m scutellata to the next mountain ranges near latitude 32 where hybrids fall away. This border is a barrier where there are fundamental differences in topography, climate and vegetation which place the 2 races ecologically totally out phase and ensure the relative stability of A m capensis and A m scutellata as separate races.

Key words: A m capensis / behaviour / A m scutellata / biotope / review article