05 January 2013

Dwarf Honeybee – Dhahran Hills

A number of Dwarf Honeybees Apis florea are currently active in and around our flowering plants in Dhahran Hills with the bees normally only seen in the cooler months of winter. Dwarf honeybees, also known as Red Dwarf Honeybee, is the smallest species of honey bee with the worker weighing 32 mg and approximately 600 bees in a colony.  The first records for Saudi Arabia were in 1985 when it was recorded in Riyadh but rapidly spread to Al Kharj and the eastern region as well as Jeddah, Makkah & Taif. The bees are attracted to flowering gardens of private homes in Dhahran and Al Khobar and have built their combs suspended from window ledges, under trellises and even attached to the security grills covering windows. The bees are native to India, and occur throughout southern and southeastern Asia and are about a quarter of the size of European honeybees who build many combs, whereas Dwarf Honeybees build just one comb. Although in some countries these bees make their hives in bushes or trees out in the open, in the Saudi heat the dwarf bees tend to look for a well-shaded area near flowering plants. They are probably the oldest form of all honeybee species and are believed to have separated from the other lineages of honeybee some 40 million years ago.