Apis dorsata/laboriosa group

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Apis dorsata/laboriosa group

These species include the so-called giant honey bees (Apis dorsata and Apis laboriosa) that build a large, single comb in the open.  This may be suspended down from a cliff, beneath a tree branch, or human made structures - Apis dorsata is commonly seen in urban and peri-urban areas nesting on office buildings, under bridges and water towers.  (Whether such nesting on buildings reflects a lack of natural nesting sites is unknown.)  A great variety of methods have been developed by human societies for their exploitation.

Colonies of these open nesting species aggregate, for example it is possible to find more than 100 colonies of Apis dorsata nesting from the branches of a single tree.  It has been shown that Apis dorsata colonies return annually to the same trees following their migrations, with the same colonies returning to the same sites.  Other species of open nesting Apis have been shown also to nest in aggregations, for example Apis florea, and Apis laboriosa.

People obtain honey crops from this species by plundering their colonies, and this activity is known as honey hunting.  Throughout Asia, from Gurung tribesmen in the Himalayas, to mangrove-dwellers in the Sunderbans of Bangladesh, the rain-forest people in Malaysia, people living in the river deltas of southern Vietnam, and indeed, wherever the giant honeybee is present, honey hunters have their own customs for exploiting these bees.

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