Data with categorical attributes are ubiquitous in the real world. However, existing partitional clustering algorithms for categorical data are prone to fall into local optima. To address this issue, in this paper we propose a novel clustering algorithm, ABC-K-Modes (Artificial Bee Colony clustering based on K-Modes), based on the traditional k-modes clustering algorithm and the artificial bee colony approach. In our approach, we first introduce a one-step k-modes procedure, and then integrate this procedure with the artificial bee colony approach to deal with categorical data. In the search process performed by scout bees, we adopt the multi-source search inspired by the idea of batch processing to accelerate the convergence of ABC-K-Modes. The performance of ABC-K-Modes is evaluated by a series of experiments in comparison with that of the other popular algorithms for categorical data.