Asian honey bees (Apis cerana)

  • Asian honey bee on a feeding station
    Asian honey bee on a feeding station. Photograph courtesy of Arthur Giblin.
  • Swarm
  • Asian honey bee nest
    Asian honey bee nest
  • Asian honey bee
    Little black bush bee with an Asian honey bee. Photograph courtesy of Arthur Giblin.

Pest alert

New incursions of any bee into Australia may carry unwanted bee pests and diseases. If you suspect a new incursion of bees in an international airport or seaport, contact Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on 1800 803 006 or via the Customer Service Centre.

General information

Asian honey bees (AHB) are present in Far North Queensland. This pest bee may compete with European honey bees and native animals for food and nesting sites.

The pest bees are known to nest in urban cavities and therefore have the potential to come in contact with humans. Most importantly, Asian honey bees are a natural host for varroa mites, if these mites were introduced into Australia from a new incursion of honey bees, the already established Asian honey bees would aid the spread of the mite, which would severely impact Australia's honey bee industry.

Read more information about Asian honey bees.


Species name

Asian honey bee, Apis cerana


The Asian honey bee:

  • is the natural host for varroa mites, if introduced the AHB could aid the spread of this mite
  • can be a vector for other bee diseases and pests
  • may compete with other bees in Australia for floral resources
  • protects their nest and can sting just like a EHB,  a sting from an AHB could cause an anaphylactic reaction in allergy-prone people.
  • Approximately 10 mm long
  • Smaller and less hairy than the EHB
  • Pronounced and even yellow and black stripes on the abdomen.
Habitat and distribution
  • First detected in Portsmith, Cairns in 2007
  • Common in Asia and Indonesia. Those established in Queensland are of the tropical Java Strain.
  • Has been found nesting in tree hollows, under the eaves, in walls and under the floor of houses, in letterboxes, cable reels, compost bins and various other urban locations.
  • The population in Far North Queensland do not carry any known exotic diseases or mites.
  • The Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries monitors incoming cargo ships entering Australian ports for bees and other unwanted insect pests.
  • Report all suspect bees close to international ports to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Last updated 02 December 2015