A potential solution to the UK (and Europe's) Bee problems seems to lie in the humble Black (Dark) Honey Bee.
For those that do not know, the British Black/Dark European honey bee was pushed to one side by man in favour of less hardy but more productive
In an side fact, the European Dark bee was one was one of the species the Nazi's tried to exterminate due to it being deemed inferior by the nazi
It seems after 150 years of man tampering with nature and honey bees in particular, the less hardy species are dying in vast numbers, with many
reasons thrown around as to the cause, and the solution to the problem.
Bee keepers want to stick to the imported and hybrid varieties they know, relying on creating better hybrids all the time to compensate for the losses
they face.. and yet mother nature already has varieties that provide a real, lasting solution.. Varieties that have spent ten's of thousands of years
It seems the more hardy and robust British Black Honey bee may bee (lame pun intended) one of the answers to the decline of the honey bee.
So for those that do not know what a British Black Honey Bee looks like here is a pic of a Queen taken in my garden...
I suspect the decline of the imported and hybrid bees has given nature and the native British Black bee time to recuperate/expand, and that's why I
am seeing more and more of these little beauties each year.
So, my question is, has anyone else in the UK/Europe noticed an increase in British Black or European Dark Honey bees?
I know some have made there way to the US, so has anyone over that side of the pond seen any? (I think they are called German Black bees over your
Here are some interesting differences that explain why the black honey bee is the more robust variety.
1. Efficient thermoregulation of the brood nest...
a. The Dark bee has the largest body of the whole species with greater metabolic heat production by individual bees when required.
b. The Dark bee has the longest abdominal overhairs of the European races. The colony forms a 'winter cluster' when the air temperature falls to
2C. The bees which form the outer layer tuck their heads inwards and the abdominal overhairs interlock from bee to bee, insulating the cluster like
the fur of a mammal.
2. In late summer, perhaps because of the diminution of brood rearing, the amount of biopterin in the larval food is greatly increased and 'winter
bees' are formed, in which protein and fat accumulate in the 'fat bodies' in the sub-dermal layers of the abdomen. These bees are still
physiologically 'young' in spring and so can act efficiently as nurse bees. It is therefore not necessary to produce brood in the depth of winter in
order to have nurse bees in spring, as is the case with Italian and other imported bees.
3. There is an increase in the amount of another enzyme, catalase, which enables the rectum to retain greater quantities of faeces during winter. Such
bees, confined for long periods in winter without the possibility of a cleansing flight are less liable to develop dysentery. It has been shown that
southern bees taken to a cold climate do not increase their production of catalase.
4. The Dark bee has a longer period without brood in winter and consequently consumes less food, with a reduction in the accumulation of waste
products. The more efficient thermoregulation also reduces the intake of food which is needed to maintain temperature within the cluster.
5. The Dark bee has greater resistance to nosema.
taken from Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders' Association
Isn't mother nature wonderful!.. it seems she always has a solution to the mistakes of man... I'm so glad these little beauties have not been wiped
out by man.
to the British black and European Dark honey bees
The Following link to the Sussex University project that is working with Britain's Black bees to help solve the problems we face.
and those interested in the progress of the project might find the following PDF an interesting read.