Two closely related subspecies of Honey Bee are commonly found in South Africa, the Cape Honey Bee from the Western Cape being more aggressive than the African Honey Bee that occurs from the Karoo northwards to Ethiopia and Sudan (distribution map). They were also imported to Brazil from whence they spread all over South and Central America and into the continental United States. African Honey Bees are much more aggressive and tenacious than their counterparts in the Northern Hemisphere, attacking intruders quicker and in greater numbers when defending their hive.
Honey Bees are well-known for being social insects with well-defined castes taking care of various functions within the hive, which is built of wax and resin in natural or man-made cavities. Hives may number up to 50,000 individual bees, with workers living a few weeks and their queen for as long as four years. They feed on both the nectar and pollen of a wide variety of flowering plants.
Honey Bees are vitally important pollinators of indigenous flowering plants as well as cultivated crops. The 20th of May annually has been designated “World Bee Day” to focus attention on declining bee populations and the impact this will have on natural ecosystems and human food production in future.