Apis mellifera Linnaeus
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|Apis mellifera Linnaeus|
Description and distinguishing features.
Honeybees are larger than most wild bees in the islands (total length 11-13 mm in workers, 13-16 mm in males; wing length 9-10 mm in workers and 12-13,5 mm in males) but can be confused with some syrphid flies (e.g., Eristalis tenax ). They differ from superficially similar Megachile by their pollen-collecting mode: scopae on the legs (Fig. 10), not abdominal brushes.
Probably native to the Mediterranean region but kept by beekeepers in temperate regions worldwide for honey production.
Distribution in the Azores.
Apiculture is declining in the Azores (maybe as a result of accidental introduction of Varroa destructor mites) but honeybee colonies are still kept on all islands; in 2010, the number of bee colonies in the Azores was c. 3850, belonging to 255 beekeepers (source: Paulo Miranda at http://montedomel.blogspot.de).
16th century ( Frutuoso 2005); according to Marques (cited in Crane 1999: 219) "[b]eekeeping was started in 1554 ( …), the bees probably being taken there from Portugal."
Today, honeybees are not known to occur as escaped/feral bees in the archipelago but Drouët (1861) reported wild honeybees from São Miguel.
São Miguel (Furnas) and Terceira (Monte Brasil), August-September 1930, leg. L. Chopard, det. Benoist ( Benoist et al. 1936, not seen).
De la Rúa et al. (2006) analysed genetic diversity of Azorean honeybees and found a comparably low number of mitochondrial haplotypes, some of them shared with Madeiran honeybees, other probably recent introductions from the mainland.
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