From Whence You Came, Honey Bee?

Apis melliferaWestern honey bee. By Ivar Leidus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Apis mellifera Western honey bee. By Ivar Leidus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As a new beekeeper, I never really considered much about the origins of honey bees. I knew they were not native to the United States, most are from Europe and the ones that sting in a swarm are called Africanized. Local beekeepers talk about ordering Italians or Carniolans to populate hives, and during a recent local beekeeper’s association presentation, Asian honey bees were mentioned. From where Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee arose, I did not know.

As it turns out, the origin of honey bees is a highly debated topic. Some say they arose from Asia; others say Africa. Recently, researchers from the University of California—Davis used short nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and two sets of previously published whole genome data, included additional sequenced genomes and applied multiple computational methods to analyze honey bee population genetics. They published their conclusions in Genome Biology and Evolution. Continue reading “From Whence You Came, Honey Bee?”