This paper presents a novel discrete artificial bee colony (DABC) algorithm for solving the multi-objective flexible job shop scheduling problem with maintenance activities. Performance criteria considered are the maximum completion time so called makespan, the total workload of machines and the workload of the critical machine. Unlike the original ABC algorithm, the proposed DABC algorithm presents a unique solution representation where a food source is represented by two discrete vectors and tabu search (TS) is applied to each food source to generate neighboring food sources for the employed bees, onlooker bees, and scout bees. An efficient initialization scheme is introduced to construct the initial population with a certain level of quality and diversity. A self-adaptive strategy is adopted to enable the DABC algorithm with learning ability for producing neighboring solutions in different promising regions whereas an external Pareto archive set is designed to record the non-dominated solutions found so far. Furthermore, a novel decoding method is also presented to tackle maintenance activities in schedules generated. The proposed DABC algorithm is tested on a set of the well-known benchmark instances from the existing literature. Through a detailed analysis of experimental results, the highly effective and efficient performance of the proposed DABC algorithm is shown against the best performing algorithms from the literature.