Scientific Classification is a way for our science community to identify and understand the different life forms on our planet. All life forms, including honeybees, have a scientific classification that is unique.
So let's try to understand the way that Honeybees are classified in Science ....
Bees are a part of the Life of our planet.
They belong to the Eukaryote Domain, which is to say that they are organisms with complex cell structures. Humans and all animal life, belong to the Eukaryote Domain.
Bees belong to the Animal Kingdom. They are classified as belonging to the Arthropod Phylum. Arthropods are invertebrate animals having an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages.
Honeybees are further defined as belonging to the Insect Class. A Class is a way of further identifying biologically alike lifeforms. In the case of Honeybees, belonging to the Insect class means that they have 3 pairs of legs, one pair of antennae and 3 main body regions: Head, Thorax and Abdomen. All forms of life classified as Insects will display these features. Because they are Winged Insects, they reside within the Pterygota Subclass.
Because they have TWO sets of wings, they are defined as members of the Hymenoptera Order. Since they go through metamorphosis and develop from egg to larvae to pupa and finally to adult, they are defined as being of the Neoptera Superorder. Further defined, they belong to the Apocrita Suborder.
ALL BEES are classified within the Apidae family. This means Carpenter Bees, Bumblebees, Cuckoo Bees, Orchid Bees and so on. There are over 20,000 known species of bees throughout the world. Bees inhabit every continent in the world except Antarctica, where there are no insect pollenated flowering plants.
Honeybees are then classified into the Apinae Subfamily. Members of the Apinae Subfamily are known for being solitary and creating nests which are burrowed into the ground.
Because Honeybees are Eusocial insects, they are separated from the Apinae Subfamily and lumped into the Apini Tribe.
Because, unlike the other members of the Apini Tribe, they gather and store food for consumption later they are separated once more to be defined as being of the Apis Genus. There are currently 7 recognized species of Honey Bee in the world, all residing within this Apis Genus.
So let's review. 20,000 species of Bee. Out of those 20,000 species, only 7 are recognized as Honey Bees.
Within the Apis Genus, there are Subgenus where each Honeybee is further identified and classified ...
Subgenus Micrapis (micro, or small bees)
Subgenus Megapis (mega, or large bees)
Subgenus Apis (or Cavity Dwelling Bees)
So the Education section of this site concentrates specifically on the Apis Mellifera (Western Honey Bee), however certain portions of this information apply to other insects recognized as Honeybees as well.