Apis mellifera mellifera is the only honeybee native to Ireland and the UK, and it is well adapted to our cool, wet maritime climate. It is commonly known as the black bee, the dark bee, the native bee or simply Amm. It is under serious threat.
Amm once had a range that stretched from Ireland in the west to the Urals in the east but it is now mainly found in isolated pockets, with Ireland having some of the purest stock remaining in Europe. A large number of samples from all over Ireland were collected in 2014-2015 and have been DNA tested at Limerick Institute of Technology. The Native Irish Honeybee Society (NIHBS) works to preserve and promote our native stock. Indeed, Ireland may well be the last place in Europe where a sustainable population of Apis mellifera mellifera is possible. Introgression of genetic material from imports of other subspecies into the Irish native bee population would change it irreversibly. The mellifera subspecies freely interbreed and it is known that drones can fly many miles to congregation areas. Preserving the pure stocks we have left and propagating queens from them is of the utmost importance.
Fortunately there is an awareness among local beekeepers that Apis mellifera mellifera is part of our cultural heritage and there is growing demand for Amm queens. In a poor weather year Amm colonies will still produce a honey crop as they have evolved to cope with marginal conditions.
I will have Amm queen bees for sale from June onwards.
You can order now and I will supply them in the order they are booked so if you need queens early in the season it would be best to order as soon as possible.