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‘Apis karyanodiyan’: New Species of Bee Discovered in India

Researchers from Kerala have discovered a new species of bee in the Western Ghats Biodiversity Zone. The discovery could now open up avenues for big-scale production of high-quality honey.

Sonali Behera
New species of bee was identified as Apis karyanodiyan.
New species of bee was identified as Apis karyanodiyan.

After more than two centuries, a new species of bee has been found in India. Because of its dark color, the newly discovered honey bee has been given the scientific name 'Apis karyanodiyan’ and, 'Indian Black Honeybee' is the common name. According to researchers, this particular honey bee is an economically viable species.

Apis indica, the last honey bee found in India, was identified by Fabricius in 1798. The most recent discovery was reported in the September edition of the journal 'Entomon.' The finding brings the total number of honey bee species in the globe to 11.

A molecular examination of mitochondrial DNA was also performed, and molecular sequence data from the publicly accessible database NCBI GenBank helped in confirming the new honeybee's species designation. The research took more than three years to complete.

Shanas S, Assistant Professor at Kerala Agricultural University's Integrated Farming Systems Research Station (IFSRS), Karamana; Anju Krishnan G, a Ph.D. Research Scholar from the Zoology Department of SN College, Cherthala; and Dr. Mashhoor K from EMEA College of Arts and Science, Malappuram carried out the research.

In India, cavity-nesting honey bees are exploited for commercial honey production. The study has also provided apiculture in India a new path by establishing that there are three species of cavity-nesting honey bees in India: Apis indica, Apis cerana and the newly found Apis karinjodian.

Apis karinjodian range extends from the middle Western Ghats and Nilgiris to the Southern Western Ghats, encompassing Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and portions of Tamil Nadu.

Based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Categories and Criteria, the species has been categorized as Near Threatened (NT) in Kerala. This is a simple and generally recognized approach for categorizing species in high danger of worldwide extinction.

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