Limited to the Himalayas, it is the largest of the Apis species. So far it has only been identified in the mountainous regions of Bhutan, the Chinese province of Yunnan, India, and Nepal. It mostly nests at altitudes between 2,500 and 3,000 m (8,200 and 9,800 ft), building very large nests under overhangs on the southwestern faces of vertical cliffs. One nest can contain as much as 60 kg (130 lb) of honey. The bees forage at altitudes of up to 4,100 m (13,500 ft). Due to its peculiar nesting behavior, the Himalayan giant honey bee is also referred to as the Himalayan cliff honey bee.
There are three different types of Apis dorsata laboriosa honey: spring or red honey that is created from flowers at higher altitudes, spring honey created from flowers at mid and lower altitudes, and autumn honey is created from any site. Red honey has an intoxicating effect and various relaxing qualities that decrease over storage.