Morphometric Identification of Honey Bee Subspecies
Honey bee populations inhabiting different parts of the world differ from each other. There are about recognised 30 subspecies. Identification of the subspecies is relatively difficult because they can breed with each other producing hybrids and mongrels. The identification is usually based on molecular or morphometric methods. Morphometric methods do not require sophisticated equipment and can be done by most beekeepers. The identification can be based on many body parts including, legs and mouthparts, however, identification based on forewing alone is easier.
Originally, the identification of honey bee subspecies was based on cubital index, which is a ratio of two wing vein lengths. Later, measurement of wing venation angles was introduced. Recently the angles and ratios were replaced by coordinates of landmarks which are placed in wing vein intersections.
Identification of single bees is imprecise, therefore, usually a colony is identified using more than 10 wings. Previously, wing measurements were made manually. Now a computer program is used to place landmarks on all wing images. The computer program calculates the average configuration of landmarks and provides similarity of the colony to a range of subspecies.
The colony is assigned to the subspecies with the highest similarity.
Adam Tofilski graduated in biology from the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. Since 1994 he worked as a teaching and research assistant at the Department of Apiculture of the University of Agriculture in Krakow; seven years later (2001), he defended a doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Biology and Earth Sciences of the Jagiellonian University. In 2002-2004, he held a fellowship at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, University of Sheffield, during which he collaborated with Francis Ratnieks. Since his return to Poland, he has been employed at the University of Agriculture in Krakow. In 2019 he was awarded the title of Professor.