New Species of Honeybee
A new species of honeybee appeared in India, – the first discovery of a new honeybee species in 200 years! The species was discovered by researchers from the Kerala Agricultural University’s Integrated Farming Systems Research Station (IFSRS). Commonly named ´Indian Black Honeybee´ (Apis karinjodian), the new cavity-nesting species is endemic to the Western Ghats, covering Nilgiris to south-west Ghats, including Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu.
In India, cavity nesting honeybees are used for commercial honey production compared to other countries. The new discovery is the third species of cavity-nesting honeybees in India. The other species include the Apis indica (Indian honeybee), and the Apis cerana (Asiatic or Asian honeybee).
India was the 8th biggest producer of honey worldwide in 2022, however, this world ranking is constantly at threat. The reason being is the high moisture content of over 25% in the honey of the Apis Indica species. According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) the moisture content of honey cannot exceed 20%.
Prof. S Shanas, Assistant Professor at Kerala Agricultural University’s Integrated Farming Systems Research Station (IFSRS) explained the importance of this new species. He said,
“What is notable is the ability of the Indian black honey bee to produce higher quantities of honey which is thicker and consistent. In order to reduce the water content, the honey is heated which leads to change in the color, texture and loss of nutrients. However, the thicker honey produced by the newly discovered species, with low water content, does not require such processes and hence, the natural goodness is retained.”
He concluded saying that breeding the new species could enable a large-scale production of high-quality honey.
The discovery was by Assistant Professor Shanas, at Kerala Agricultural University’s Integrated Farming Systems Research Station (IFSRS), Dr Anju Krishnan from the Zoology department of SN College, and also Dr Mashhoor from EMEA College of Arts and Science. At the present time, the new species could clear the way for a large-scale production of high-quality honey.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has classified the Apis karinjodian species as Near Threatened (NT).