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Apis mellifera capensis
Cape Honeybees gorging on honey.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae
Subfamily: Apinae
Genus: Apis
Subgenus: (Apis)
Species: A. mellifera
Subspecies: A. m. capensis
Trinomial name
Apis mellifera capensis
Eschscholtz, 1822

Apis mellifera capensis, commonly called the Cape honey bee or Cape bee, is a southern South African sub-species of the Western honey bee. Cape bee workers are uniquely able to lay diploid, female eggs, by means of thelytoky, whereas workers of other honey bee subspecies (and, in fact, unmated females of all other eusocial insects) are able to lay only haploid, male eggs.

The movement by beekeepers of Cape honey bees into northern South Africa, where they do not naturally occur, has created a problem for the region's indigenous populations of A. m. scutellata. If a female worker from a Cape honey bee colony enters a colony of A. m. scutellata, she is not attacked, partly due to her resemblance to the African bee queen. Now independent from her own colony, she may begin laying eggs, and since A.m. capensis workers are capable of parthenogenetic reproduction, they will hatch as "clones" of herself, which will also lay eggs. As a result the parasitic A. m. capensis workers increase in number within a host colony. This leads to the death of the host colony on which they depend. An important factor causing the death of a colony seems to be the dwindling numbers of A. m. scutellata workers that perform foraging duties (A. m. capensis workers are greatly under-represented in the foraging force of an an infected colony) owing to death of the queen, and, before queen death, competition for egg laying between A. m. capensis workers and the queen. When the colony dies, the capensis females will seek out a new host colony.[1]


  1. Martin, S.J. Beekman, M., Wossler, T.C., Ratnieks, F.L.W. (2002) Parasitic Cape honeybee workers, Apis mellifera capensis, evade policing. Nature 415, 163-165 doi:10.1038/415163a This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).