Your are here:

Cape honeybee

Scientific Name
Apis mellifera capensis
Scientific Author
(Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Page menu options:

Diagnostic Images

Fore wing
South Africa.
Simon Hinkley & Ken Walker Museums Victoria
Image Options
Diagnostic Images (9)
Diagnostic Notes

Apis mellifera capensis and Apis mellifera scutellata are very difficult to separate on morphological grounds – the best method seems to be to identify the geographical location of the source of the population.  Apis mellifera capensis is generally confined to the south west corner of South Africa and along the southern coast to Port Elizabeth; Apis mellifera scutellata can be found throughout most of the remaining areas of South Africa (See Figure 5 in Hepburn and Radloff in Weblinks)


 There appears to be three subspecies of Apis mellifera in South Africa -  A. m. capensis, A. m. scutellata and an unnamed “mountain form” (Hepburn & Radloff 2002).


Unlike all other species and subspecies of Apis, A. m. capensis can reproduce through thelytokous parthenogenesis (automictic thelytoky is meiosis followed by fusion of two meiotic products to restore egg diploidy), producing diploid (female) eggs. In other A. mellifera subspecies, workers lay haploid (male) eggs via arrhenotoky.


Workers of A. m. capensis have on average more than 5 ovarioles/ovaries and a spermathecal diameter of 0.30mm; the spermathecas of workers of other species of Apis are vestigial.


Apis mellifera capensis workers can invade the nests of African bee A. m. scutellata, parasitise these colonies, causing colony death.


More Information
Specimen Contact
Museum Victoria
Walker, K.
15/01/2006 09:13 AEST
Last Updated
28/12/2007 07:43 AEST
Walker, K. (2006) Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis) Updated on 12/28/2007 7:43:06 AM Available online: PaDIL -
Image Use
Free for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License