March 2006. Solomon Islands asked how to distinguish between the wild and domesticated bees. Information on how to manage the bees would be welcomed.
There is Apis mellifera, the European Honeybee, and Apis cerana, the Asian Hive Bee, a recent introduction to the Solomon Islands which is smaller, absconds readily from hives, and robs honey. Asian bees are now established in Guadalcanal and Central Province. Furthermore, a mite which parasitises bees, Varroa jacobsoni, turned up in the Solomon Islands at the same time, further undermining the honey industry.
It was also said that the two types are readily separable on size, with A. cerana latter being about two-thirds the size of the A. mellifera. However, both can be readily hived, so if there is a species present that cannot be readily hived it may be A. florea, which is even smaller than A. cerana. Just to complicate things, there are now known to be several closely-related species each of `cerana’ and `florea’ so to be sure specimens need to be sent to an expert for identification.