Asian honey bee


Be on the lookout for Asian honey bees.

Report sightings

The Asian honey bee is native to South-East Asia. It is smaller and has less hair than the European honey bee, and has pronounced black/brown and yellow stripes.

The Asian honey bee is a possible carrier of bee diseases and pests, and feral infestations could also compete with other bees for resources.

Asian honey bees can be easily confused with common European honey bees (Apis mellifera), and some other bees and insects.

The Asian honey bee is restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Apis cerana

Similar species

  • European honey bee, little black bush bee, halictidae family, blue banded bee, leafcutter bee, resin bee


  • Bee approximately 10mm long.
  • Body is smaller and less hairy than that of European honey bee.
  • Abdomen has pronounced black/brown and yellow stripes.
  • Aggressive, protects nesting sites and stings.


  • Found nesting in tree hollows, under eaves, in walls, under floorboards, and in letterboxes, cable reels, compost bins, and various other urban locations.
  • Have a tendency to abscond or 'move' from nest sites. Absconding colonies may travel up to 10km.
  • Asian honey bees that have been detected in North Queensland have relatively small colonies of up to 5,000 bees.


  • Asian honey bee can be found throughout Asia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Australia.
  • Known to infest the far northern Queensland area around Cairns.
  • The Asian honey bee known infested area (PDF, 407KB) spreads north to Wonga Beach, west of Southedge and Dimbulah, south to Cardwell.

Life cycle

  • Generally grows slightly more quickly than European honey bee.
  • Workers develop in 19 days, drones in 23 days, and queens in 13–16 days (compared to 21 days, 24 days and 13 days respectively for European honey bees).



  • Is natural host for varroa mites (which can destroy European honey bee. colonies) and Asian honey bee colonies could encourage the spread of mites.
  • Is a vector for other bee diseases and pests.
  • May compete with other bees for floral resources.


  • Stings could cause anaphylactic reaction in allergy-prone people.


  • Early detection is essential to prevent Asian honey bees from establishing in new areas.
  • Report all suspect bees (including any swarms or nests you have destroyed).
  • Provide a sample of the bees (where possible) to the Biological Sciences Laboratory.
  • If you suspect a new incursion of bees in an international airport or seaport, call the Australian Government on 1800 798 636.
  • Check your vessel, vehicle or trailer before travelling long distances.
  • Have a pest control operator remove any bees that are swarming or nesting on your property.
  • Asian honey bees are easily confused with European honey bees and other local native bees, which should not be destroyed—these bees are important for pollination and honey production. Confirm the identity of the bees before taking any action. Swarms of European honey bees should be referred to a local beekeeper who can remove the swarm before it establishes a nest.

Pest management operators

Legal requirements

  • Asian honey bees are listed as restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • All sightings outside the known infested area around Cairns must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours of the sighting.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks of Asian honey bee spreading.
  • It is an offence under the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 to keep or move Asian honey bees.