Geographical distribution of the giant honey bee Apis laboriosa Smith, 1871 (Hymenoptera, Apidae)

Zookeys. 2020 Jul 22;951:67-81. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.951.49855. eCollection 2020.


Worldwide pollinator declines have dramatically increased our need to survey and monitor pollinator distributions and abundances. The giant honey bee, Apis laboriosa, is one of the important pollinators at higher altitudes of the Himalayas. This species has a restricted distribution along the Himalayas and neighbouring mountain ranges of Asia. Previous assessments of its distribution, published more than 20 years ago, were based on museum specimens. Since then, 244 additional localities have been revealed through field trips by the authors, publications, and websites. We present a revised distribution for A. laboriosa that better defines its range and extends it eastward to the mountains of northern Vietnam, southward along the Arakan Mountains to west-central Myanmar, into the Shillong Hills of Meghalaya, India, and northwestward in Uttarakhand, India. This species is generally found at elevations between 1000-3000 m a.s.l.. In northeastern India A. laboriosa colonies occur during summer at sites as low as 850 m a.s.l. and some lower elevation colonies maintain their nests throughout the winter. Finally, we report three regions in Arunachal Pradesh, India, and nine locations in northern Vietnam, where we observed workers of A. laboriosa and A. dorsata foraging sympatrically; their co-occurrence supports the species status of Apis laboriosa.

Keywords: Apidae; Apis dorsata; Himalayas; conservation; pollinator; sympatry.

Grant support

University of Kansas, Entomology Endowment Fund