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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The return of the BRITISH bee

You learn something new everyday, apparently the Honey Bee is a foreign migrant!!!

The traditional British Honey bee is Apis Mellifera was thrown out io hives by the Victorian's in favour of foreign varieties (from Italy and Eastern Europe) that were believed to be more industrious and apparently modern keeper's regards it as lazy and aggressive.

Now the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeder's Association (BIBBA) are hoping to map wild populations across Britain with a view to reintroducing it to commercial hives. BIIBA are asking people to photograph it whenever they see it.

According to the Co-Op

Native black honeybees are considered by some beekeepers to be more aggressive and poorer at producing honey than foreign strains

But over tens of thousands of years, the native black honeybee has evolved thick black hair and a larger body to help keep it warm in a cooler climate, and a shorter breeding season to reflect the UK summer. With careful selection, they are good-tempered and good honey-producers.



There is a £100,000 study at Sussex University which aims to breed black bees more resistant to disease. Beekeepers who think they have native or near-native black honeybees are asked to send samples to Bibba to test their origins.

Norman Carreck, of Sussex's Department of Biological and Ecological Science blamed the aggressive reputation of the black bee on cross-breeding. When bred with the Italian honeybee, the normally docile black bee could be aggressive, and kept its dominant markings.

The bees ramaining wild population is believed to be in the western British Isles, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

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Now after typing that lot up (I heard about it in a few places yesterday) I did a bit of research, we are talking Apis Mellifera Melifera. And it would this all a bit more complex than news report.

Have a read of this article by BIBBA and these wiki articles on the European Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera), the European Dark Bee (Apis Mellifera Mellifera), the Buckfast Bee the Carniolan Honey Bee (Apus Mellifera Carnica) and the Italian Honey Bee (Apus Mellifera ligustica)

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