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African Honey Bee

African Honey Bees

 

This subspecies has been determined to constitute one part of the ancestry of the Africanized bees (also known as “killer bees”) spreading through America. The African bee is being threatened by the introduction of the Cape honey bee into northern South Africa. If a female worker from a Cape honey bee colony enters an African bee nest, she is not attacked, partly due to her resemblance to the African bee queen. Now independent from her own colony, she may begin laying eggs, and since A.m. capensis workers are capable of parthenogenetic reproduction, they will hatch as “clones” of herself, which will also lay eggs. As a result the parasitic A. m. capensis workers increase in number within a host colony. This leads to the death of the host colony on which they depend. An important factor causing the death of a colony seems to be the dwindling numbers of A. m. scutellata workers that perform foraging duties (A. m. capensis workers are greatly under-represented in the foraging force of an infected colony) owing to death of the queen, and, before queen death, competition for egg laying between A. m. capensis workers and the queen. When the colony dies, the capensis females will seek out a new host colony.

 

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