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By Friedrich Ruttner

Honeybees are as small as flies or as huge as hornets, nesting in nar­ row cavities of timber and rocks or within the open on huge limbs of timber 30 m above floor. They take place in tropical zones and within the forests of the Ural mountains, they live on seven months of wintry weather or even longer classes of drought and warmth. traditionally, they lived via a prolonged time of stagnation within the tropics from the mid-Tertiary, yet then skilled an explosive evolution throughout the Pleistocene, re­ sulting within the conquest of big new territories and the starting place of 2 dozen subspecies in Apis mellifera. This mammoth geographic and ecologic diversification of the genus Apis was once observed through a wealthy morphological edition, much less at the point of species than on the lowest rank, the subspecies point. edition being completely of a quantitative variety at this primary step of speciation, tradi­ tional descriptive equipment of systematics proved to be unsatisfactory, and honeybee taxonomy eventually ended up in a complicated multitude of inadequately defined devices. potent equipment of morphometric-sta­ tistical research of honeybee popUlations, headquartered on restricted parts, were built over the past many years. in basic terms the numerical characterization of the populations, including the outline of habit, exhibits the real geographic variability and should finish present generalizations and handy stereotypes.

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Sample text

To cope with permanent temperatures, such as the prevailing lows in temperate zones during winter, would be completely impossible. The prerequisite of an efficient temperature regulation was the change from openair nesting to a cave-nesting colony with several combs. This change had to be complemented by a more sophisticated communication in the dark. Perhaps even more important is the behavior of clustering (swarm and winter cluster, protective curtain), typical for all Apis species. 2). This perhaps is the reason why the subfamily Apinae exclusively evolved thermo homeostasis.

3). 3 Principal Period and Extent of Radiation Each subfamily radiated at a different time: early Tertiary in Meliponinae (Wille 1980), late Tertiary in Bombinae (Williams 1985), end of Tertiary-Pleistocene in Apinae, as will be demonstrated later. This difference in time of evolution is reflected by differences in rank and number of the taxa: Meliponinae - 18 genera, 500 species; Bombini - 3 genera, about 290 species; Apini - 1 genus, 4 (or 5) species (with many subspecies). 4 Ecology Each of the three subfamilies of Apidae is well characterized by its general structure, adapted in a special way to different environments: the predominantly small Meliponinae with more or less large, perennial colonies in sophisticated nests, strictly pantropical; the large, sturdy pubescent Bombini with relatively small seasonal colonies in cool (even arctic and alpine) climate; the generally large, slender Apini, which succeeded in attaining remarkable independence from environmental conditions by a very high level of social organization (homeothermy).

In conclusion, "Electrapis" seems to have been a group of species in an ancestral position in respect to all recent Apidae. At the same time, however, typical Meliponinae existed already. Therefore, they have to be considered as the most ancient subfamily. 2 Morphology In spite of a clear characterization of the subfamilies, the deduction of a plausible phylogenesis is not easily achieved at first sight. 1 Distribution of characters among subfamilies of Apidae (Winston and Michener 1977). of derived charact.

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