Thrice Out of Africa: Ancient and Recent Expansions of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera

  title={Thrice Out of Africa: Ancient and Recent Expansions of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera},
  author={Charles W Whitfield and Susanta K. Behura and Stewart H. Berlocher and Andrew G. Clark and J. Spencer Johnston and Walter Steven Sheppard and Deborah Roan Smith and Andrew V. Suarez and Daniel B. Weaver and Neil Durie Tsutsui},
  pages={642 - 645}
We characterized Apis mellifera in both native and introduced ranges using 1136 single-nucleotide polymorphisms genotyped in 341 individuals. Our results indicate that A. mellifera originated in Africa and expanded into Eurasia at least twice, resulting in populations in eastern and western Europe that are geographically close but genetically distant. A third expansion in the New World has involved the near-replacement of previously introduced “European” honey bees by descendants of more… 

Hybrid origins of Australian honeybees (Apis mellifera)

The presence of alleles of African ancestry in some Australian bees is shown, at levels comparable to those seen in the commercial populations of European-derived bees in North America.

Admixture in Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera) from Panamá to San Diego, California (U.S.A.)

It is found that AHB nuclear genomes from Central America and Mexico have predominately African genomes with smaller contributions from Western and Eastern European lineages, and AHB from San Diego (CA) shows markedly lower African ancestry, but genetic diversity measures from all New World populations equal or exceed those of ancestral populations.

A genome-wide signature of positive selection in ancient and recent invasive expansions of the honey bee Apis mellifera

It is found that introgression of European-derived alleles into Africanized bees was significantly greater for coding than noncoding regions, suggesting that AT-rich genes play an important role in adaptive evolution in the honey bee.

From where did the Western honeybee (Apis mellifera) originate?

The authors' analyses support high divergence between western and eastern European populations of A. mellifera, suggesting they are likely derived from two distinct colonization routes, although the sources of these expansions are still unclear.

Adaptive maintenance of European alleles in the Brazilian Africanized honeybee

  • B. Harpur
  • Environmental Science
    Molecular ecology
  • 2017
In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Nelson, Wallberg, Simões, Lawson, and Webster have made the first step towards understanding how this invasive species successfully spread across the Americas.

Africanization of a feral honey bee (Apis mellifera) population in South Texas: does a decade make a difference?

Abstract The arrival to the United States of the Africanized honey bee, a hybrid between European subspecies and the African subspecies Apis mellifera scutellata, is a remarkable model for the study

The Complex Demographic History and Evolutionary Origin of the Western Honey Bee, Apis Mellifera

Evidence is found supporting an origin of A. mellifera in the Middle East or North Eastern Africa, with the A and Y lineages representing the earliest branching lineages, providing fundamental knowledge about genetic diversity within Old World honey bee populations and offering insight into the complex history of an important pollinator.

Colonization history and population differentiation of the Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.) in Puerto Rico

The results support the hypothesis that the Texas AHB population is the source of gentle Africanized honey bees (gAHB), and compare gAHB to populations that span the current distribution of A. mellifera worldwide.

Nuclear and mitochondrial patterns of introgression into native dark bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) in Poland

It is suggested that the Bayesian analysis of admixture based on nuclear microsatellites provides a reliable tool for measuring introgression in dark bees, which should be routinely used for evaluation during conservation programmes.

Genome Sequencing of Museum Specimens Reveals Rapid Changes in the Genetic Composition of Honey Bees in California

It is found that populations from both northern and southern California exhibit pronounced genetic changes, but have changed in different ways, and identifies an isolated island population that has experienced comparatively little change over a large time span.



Identification of African-Derived Bees in the Americas: A Survey of Methods

The biogeography and intraspecific phylogeny of Apis mellifera in the Old World as it pertains to African- derived bees in the Americas is reviewed, the methods used to study gene flow between European-derived and African-derived populations in the New World are reviewed, and the techniques used in identification ofAfrican-derived bees are reviewed.


It is suggested that although European mitochondria may eventually be driven to extinction in the feral population, stable introgression of European nuclear alleles has occurred.

Hybridization Between European and Africanized Honey Bees in the Neotropical Yucatan Peninsula

A population genetic analysis of honey bees of the Mexican neotropical Yucatan peninsula shows that the range expansion of Africanized bees there has involved extensive introgressive hybridization with European bees, suggesting that the size of resident European populations may be important in explaining previously reported asymmetrical hybridization.

The African honey bee: factors contributing to a successful biological invasion.

This work provides a synthesis of recent research on the African bee, concentrating on its ability to displace European honey bees, and considers the genetic composition of the expanding population and the symmetry of gene flow between African and European bees.

Gene flow between African- and European-derived honey bee populations in Argentina

Mitochondrial DNA, morphological and isoenzyme analyses show that substantial hybridization occurs between the two racial groups, and transecting regions populated by African- and European-derived honey bees in Argentina are described.

Turkish honeybees: genetic variation and evidence for a fourth lineage of Apis mellifera mtDNA.

A novel mtDNA haplotype with a unique restriction site pattern and noncoding sequence was found among bees from Hatay, in the extreme south near the Syrian border, and may represent a fourth mitochondrial lineage of honeybee mtDNA.


It was experimentally shown that the species Apis mellifera L. has a quite unusually large area of distribution and is in fact a single species, as all the different types from this enormous region, comprising the whole western part of the Old World, interbreed with full fertility.

Molecular confirmation of a fourth lineage in honeybees from the Near East

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Biogeography and Taxonomy of Honeybees

The Genus Apis is a Polymorphic Species with an Unusual Range of Adaptation and the Races of the Near East (Irano-Ponto-Mediterranean Area).