The Asian honeybee, Apis cerana, (10mm) is smaller than the European honeybee, Apis mellifera, (15 mm) which is used for honey production in Australia. It tends to fly faster and more erratically. It is less hairy and has more prominent banding on the abdomen than the European honeybee. When swarming, they move in very tight clusters that range from the size of a closed hand to that of a basketball.
Asian honey bees may compete with European honey bees and native animals for food and nesting cavities. They are natural hosts for varroa mites. If these mites are introduced into Australia, Asian honey bees could aid their spread, and this could cause severe losses in European honey bee colonies.
They tend to nest in small cavities (such as letterboxes and garden sheds) in urban environments.
A sting from an Asian honey bee has been known to cause an anaphylactic reaction in a person who is allergic to other bees.
Be on the lookout for bees and check vessels, vehicles and trailers before travelling long distances.
Some photos are provided by Arthur Gibli.
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