Chiang Mai national park reports presence of Himalayan giant honey bee, the world's largest


Image from The Nation Thailand/ANN

BANGKOK (The Nation Thailand/ANN): The world's largest honey bee has been discovered for the first time in Thailand at Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park in Chiang Mai’s Fang district, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) said on Saturday.

At a press conference, the department said the presence of the Himalayan giant honey bee (Apis laboriosa) has been recorded at the park since 2023, but officials had been collecting data and samples to make sure that they were not Apis dorsata, a common species of giant honey bee that can be found throughout Thailand.

The Himalayan giant honey bee has a distinguishing feature — a black abdomen with gold-yellow fur around its thorax. It also has different housekeeping and swarming behaviour, allowing it to survive at high altitudes up to 4.5 kilometres above sea level and cold weather under 25 degrees Celsius.

Found mostly in the mountainous regions of Bhutan, China’s Yunnan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, Apis laboriosa build very large nests under overhangs of vertical cliffs.

One nest can contain as much as 60kg of honey, the department said. Due to its peculiar nesting behaviour, the Himalayan giant honey bee is also referred to as the Himalayan cliff honey bee.

Like Apis dorsata, the Himalayan giant honey bee is a pollinator whose role contributes to the survivability of plant society and the biodiversity of the forest.

The Himalayan giant honey bee is the only one to produce red honey during the spring season.

Red honey has an intoxicating effect and various relaxing qualities that decrease over storage. It is a highly sought after product that is often sold at high prices due to its medicinal value, the department said.

The discovery of Apis laboriosa in Thailand adds to the roster of four species of honey bee in the Apis family native to the kingdom, namely Apis dorsata, Apis florea, Apis andreniformis, and Apiscerana. - The Nation Thailand/ANN

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