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

Annu Rev Entomol. 2004;49:351-76. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.49.061802.123359.


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 (a) the genetic composition of the expanding population and the symmetry of gene flow between African and European bees, (b) the mechanisms that favor the preservation of the African genome, and (c) the possible range and impact of the African bee in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Animals
  • Bees / classification
  • Bees / genetics*
  • Bees / physiology*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / analysis
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genes, Insect
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • United States


  • DNA, Mitochondrial