The Irish Black Bee was almost threatened with extinction back in the 1980s due to years of importations of hybrid bees. It remained only in a few pockets around the country. This bee is a strain of the European Dark Honeybee (Apis Mellifera Mellifera).
It is the indigenous bee of Ireland and therefore perfectly adapted to the climates of the region. Through genetics it has been proven, Ireland has some of the purest strains of European Dark Bee in the world. It is very important to conserve this species of bee through a policy of non-importation of foreign bees which is adopted by FIBKA.
Because it is adapted to the climates of Northern Europe, it is very frugal with its stores. During a cold wet period, it does not use up a whole lot of the honey it has collected. Whereas it has been proven that Italian and Buckfast bees use up huge amounts of honey in bad weather and need heavier sugar feeding in winter because of their large colonies.
Meanwhile research at NUIG is endeavouring to uncover how some honey bees in Ireland can tolerate and even resist Varroa mites. This information will be fed back into the breeding programme to help steer the selection process. The research and the breeding programme also aims to assist the native Irish honey bee’s feral and wild population by augmenting it with colonies bred from Varroa tolerant queens.
Apis Mellifera Mellifera are also known to be a much more docile strain of bee and for this reason much easier to work with than imports.
For more information about our Native Irish Bees: CBC leaflet