The Asian honey bee Apis cerana and the European honey bee Apis mellifera are closely related and morphologically very similar. Where these species coexist, they appear to compete, but the outcomes of competition vary enormously between locations. Here, we report comparative behavioural data for A. cerana and A. mellifera in China gathered by tracking bees using radio frequency identification. Both species organise their division of labour by temporal polyethism and have remarkably similar demographic structure. Analyses of the homing capacities of both species following large-scale displacement suggest that A. mellifera colonies have a larger range than A. cerana. We observed that relocation of A. mellifera to a new environment disrupted colony function for 3 weeks. Our data show that A. mellifera and. A cerana occupy extremely similar behavioural niches, and therefore, the potential for competition between these species is very high.