2. General considerations

In exploring honey bee variation for practical or scientific reasons, researchers face two fairly different tasks. One is to investigate unknown variation to establish firm groupings. To complete this task, one has to include a wide range of parameters of variation, in fact as many as available. This route has led from subspecies and ecotype definitions developed from morphological and behavioural characters to an increasing refinement and reevaluation of this picture through the inclusion of molecular characterizations, and increased illumination of phylogenetic relations between populations.

The second task is to just identify unknown samples in the established picture. Here, few effective identifying characters are sufficient, and the main objective is to establish labour-effective diagnostic tools. These two aspects will consistently come up in the following sections introducing various morphometric and molecular methods, where they will be discussed in more detail. To facilitate the decision, which method(s) would be most appropriate in a given situation, we have compiled methods in a simple tree structure in Table 2.

Table 2. Key to recommended methods, depending on the aim of the study.

1.a     The population or sample under study originates from the native range of Apis mellifera

1.b     The population or sample under study does not originate from the native range of A. mellifera

go to 3

 

 go to 2

 

2.a     Your main concern is to identify potential Africanization in the population or sample rapidly

2.b     Your study aims at a characterization of the population beyond the question of Africanization ……………………

Use geometric morphometrics or one of the fast identification systems (e.g. FABIS). See sections 3.1.1.2 and 3.1.3.2

Combine methods (morphometric, mtDNA or microsatellites) for a comprehensive characterization. Include reference data from potential source populations in analysis. See sections 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3.2

3.a     The population under study has been described and published reference data exist in the literature…

 3.b     The population under study has not been described or originates from a hybrid zone.....

 


go to 4

 

Combine methods (morphometric, mtDNA or microsatellites) for a comprehensive characterization. Include reference data from adjacent areas in analysis. See sections 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3.2

4.a     A fast assignment is needed to confirm the origin of the samples in question

 
4.b     The aim of your study is a comprehensive characterization of the samples in question

Use geometric morphometrics or classical wing characters; include reference data in the analysis. See sections 3.1.1.2 and 3.1.4


Combine methods (morphometric, mtDNA or microsatellites) for a comprehensive characterization. Include reference data in analysis. See sections 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3.2

 

2.2. Specific sampling recommendations