It has long been believed by scientists that honeybees originated in Africa, much like humans did well over one hundred thousand years ago. However, recent research is showing that this is likely not the case at all. Instead there exists an abundance of evidence that suggests Asia as the more likely birthplace of modern honeybees.
Researchers from Uppsala University conducted a global analysis of honeybees, which indicated that they are far more genetically diverse than previously supposed. The genetic researchers created a reliable tree that showed Asia and not Africa as the origin of the modern honeybee. This extensive genetic map is telling researchers a great deal about the migration history of honeybees and how they became adapted to different climates around the world.
Perhaps the most interesting finding involved a close relative of the modern honeybee that originated in Asia. This Asian honeybee was described as a cavity-nesting bee that began migrating across Europe from Asia around 300,000 years ago.
Today honeybee populations are decreasing rapidly. Could a better understanding of the genetic diversity of honeybees help scientists preserve the population size of honeybees