Submitted to: Annual Review of Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2002
Publication Date: 1/20/2004
Citation: Schneider, S. S., DeGrandi-Hoffman, G., Smith, D. R. The African honey bee: Factors contributing to a successful biological invasion. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 2004. 49:351-376.
Interpretive Summary: Since their introduction into Brazil in the 1950's, the African Honey Bee has been one of the most successful biological invaders ever recorded. The African bee has displaced European Honey Bees and established populations in 17 countries and over two continents within 50 years of its introduction. Factors that have contributed to the success of Africanized honey bees are described in the manuscript. The factors include: genetic traits that provide queens with African fathers advantages over those with European during queen replacement, greater use of African drone sperm during the fertilization of eggs so colonies are composed primarily of African patriline workers, faster growth of African populations and greater production of swarms compared with European colonies, and the ability of African bees to take over European colonies. While this manuscript is a review of the literature, it provides a valuable framework for identifying biological attributes that contribute to the success of an invading species. The information gathered on African bees can be incorporated into the decision-making process for future introductions and the control of non-native organisms.
Technical Abstract: The African honey bee subspecies, Apis mellifera scutellata, has colonized much of the Americas in less than 50 years and has largely replaced European bees throughout its range in the New World. The African bee therefore provides an excellent opportunity to examine the factors that influence invasion success. We provide a synthesis of recent research on the African bee, concentrating on its ability to displace European honey bees. Specifically, we consider: (1) the genetic composition of the expanding population and the symmetry of gene flow between African and European bees, (2) the mechanisms that favor the preservation of the African genome, and (3) the possible range and impact of the African bee in the United States.