What is this bee?

I’ve noticed this slightly different-looking bee before and have just come across it again. I believe it to be more than just a different line of genetics of Apis mellifera and wonder if it may be something like the Asian honey bee, which is deemed a biosecurity threat in Australia. It has what looks to be no hair on its thorax and is rather glossy looking. It’s also smaller with a more orange colour on its abdomen. I noticed two of them on this particular brood frame that I inspected just last week.

I’m located in north NSW on the east coast of Australia.

Is anyone familiar with this?

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Ermm, yep. That is what you might call a Queen bee, even Apis mellifera…


Put a mark on her and see if she is still there next time! :blush:

OK, I know that you are worried that she is small. New and virgin queens can be like that, which is why I suggested the mark

Haha I love how sure you are Dawn, but there is no part of me that thinks this is a queen bee.

The colony was queenright and this little lady was certainly way too small to hold enough sperm and eggs for her to be running this hive. They were super small (I saw two of them) and the photo shows this - that’s not her dropping her abdomen into the cell. And the almost metallic orange colours make me think that they may not be Apis mellifera.

Perhaps these characteristics are not foreign for certain breeds in the USA?!

I’m dearly confused about what this bee is.

OK, I will :zipper_mouth_face: now

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I’m also familiar with virgin queens and what they look like. Pointy abdomen, still resembling Apis mellifera. This bee, honestly, is completely different.

Haha! but honestly, I do! You’ve made me thoroughly question if it’s a queen, and I’m now certainly sure :sweat_smile:

Maybe an old bee. Maybe a veteran of a robing raid :slightly_smiling_face:

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it seems really unlikely that an asian honeybee would be in your hive? Seems much more likely it’s just an odd looking and/or older bee? There is a lot of genetic variability amongst bees even in one hive- and this could just be a freak? In fact the genetic variability amongst bees accounts for how such a complex society functions. If you want to know more find a copy of ‘The Honey Factory’- a brilliant book about bees…

Great feedback and thoughts Jack and maybe it is a different sub-species of Apis mellifera to what is mostly occupying this hive, but I can’t help believe it’s more than that.

As I said, I noticed 2 bees in this that distinctly looked like this, and I’ve come across a bee that looks like this maybe once or twice before (over the years).

The different characteristics are very different and clear if you see it in person, but the clearest one is the shortness of this bee (about 1/4 shorter), which is what mostly makes me think that this is another species of Apis, not an Apis mellifera subspecies, e.g. Apis cerana.

The state of her wings (neat and young, not withered and old) suggest that it’s not just an older bee too.

I got a reply from DPI and unfortunately they’re unable to ID it from the photos but agree that it’s peculiar. They’ve asked me to capture one and send it in. I just have to find it again now. Bummer.

it seems odd there would be a different subspecies of bee living in the hive? Where would it have come from? Why would the bees let it in? Why would it leave it’s own hive? I suppose it’s all possible but I doubt it… I hope you can find one and solve this mystery.

All of the same questions are running through my mind :joy:

I’m determined…

I would have guessed hoverfly.

I was thinking hoverfly after some nectar. Catch one and see if it has a stinger.

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This clever hoverfly hung out with my ladies in the garden last summer. It has some seriously great mimicry skills. That is what made me think it could possibly be. :rofl::man_shrugging:


I also see the odd bee that is different from all the rest. I gave this subject some thought, and wondered if these bees are mutations within the colony. Then I started to wonder if it’s these mutations that result in different species developing over long periods of time.