This article proposes a new hybrid least squares-support vector machine and artificial bee colony algorithm (ABC-LS-SVM) for multi-hour ahead forecasting of global solar radiation (GHI) data. The framework performs on training the least squares-support vector machine (LS-SVM) model by means of the ABC algorithm using the measured data. ABC is developed for free parameters optimization for the LS-SVM model in a search space so as to boost the forecasting performance. The developed ABC-LS-SVM approach is verified on an hourly scale on a database of five years of measurements. The measured data were collected from 2013 to 2017 at the Applied Research Unit for Renewable Energy (URAER) in Ghardaia, south of Algeria. Several combinations of input data have been tested to model the desired output. Forecasting results of 12 h ahead GHI with the ABC-LS-SVM model led to the root-mean-square error (RMSE) equal to 116.22 Wh/m2, Correlation coefficient r = 94.3%. With the classical LS-SVM, the RMSE error equals to 117.73 Wh/m2 and correlation coefficient r = 92.42%; for cuckoo search algorithm combined with LS-SVM, the RMSE = 116.89 Wh/m2 and r = 93.78%. The results achieved reveal that the proposed hybridization scheme provides a more accurate performance compared to cuckoo search-LS-SVM and the stand-alone LS-SVM.