Free Access
Volume 31, Number 2, March-April 2000
Taxonomy and Evolutionary biology of the Honeybees
Page(s) 205 - 221
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2000117

Apidologie 31 (2000) 205-221

Mountain honeybees of Africa

H. Randall Hepburna - Sarah E. Radloffb - Sunday Oghiakhea

aDepartment of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
bDepartment of Statistics, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa


The honeybees occurring along transects from low to high altitude were analysed for seven separate mountain systems in Africa using three suites of characters: morphometric characters, flight dimensional measurements and the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) restriction length fragments derived from the non-coding region of COI-COII by DraI restriction. Morphocluster definition was consistent with mtDNA cluster membership but not with flight dimensional data. When all three character suites are combined, six different kinds of unrelated mountain bees are obtained. The only commonality among the mountain bees is that they are larger than those of lower altitudes. Because of fundamental differences in the restriction length fragments and other clusters obtained, it is concluded that mountain bees should probably be regarded as ecotypically differentiated populations of the subspecies surrounding each particular mountain.

Keywords: Apis mellifera / Africa / mountain / morphometrics / flight dimension / mtDNA

Correspondence and reprints: H. Randall Hepburn

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