BIBBA does not support the importation of honey bees as not only does it pose a health risk to our bees but importation also works against the development of local adaptation. The mixing of different sub-species makes selection and improvement of our bees more difficult due to hybridisation and it negates the effects of ‘natural selection’ which produces a hardier bee.
Bees of other sub-species have been imported into Britain and Ireland for over 150 years resulting in much introgression of genetic material into the native stock. As a result ‘pure’ stocks of bees of the native sub-species can be difficult to find. ‘Near-native’ refers to bees which have a native appearance as well as characteristics similar to native bees although genetically they may contain some DNA from other sub-species.
This is a local name for the honey bee sub-species Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm) that is native to the British Isles.
There are about 28 different sub-species of the western honey bee, Apis mellifera, originally distributed through Europe, the Near East and Africa. In the British Isles and Northern Europe, from France to the Urals, the native sub-species is commonly known as the Dark European honey bee or Apis mellifera mellifera (The first two latin names denote the genus and the species, and the third name denotes the sub-species).
Common names for the Dark European Bee include ‘Old English’, ’British Black Bee’, ‘Irish Black Bee’ and ‘Brown Bee’.