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United Kingdom: New life for the ancient black honeybee

UK hive population slumps 30 per cent in a single winter

Source:  Copyright 2009, Independent (UK)
Date:  May 18, 2009
Byline:  Martin Hickman
Original URL: Status ONLINE

For decades, Britain's native black bee has been an outcast. The Victorians threw Apis mellifera mellifera out of hives in favour of more industrious foreign species. Modern beekeepers brand it lazy and aggressive.

Now, the nation's original honeybee is coming in from the cold. Scientists believe the insect that made honey for the tables of medieval kings could reverse the collapse of bee numbers that has imperilled the annual pollination of crops worth £165m.

The Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders' Association (Bibba) believes the black honeybee, which has a thicker coat, could be hardy enough to survive the 21st century. Its researchers hope to map wild populations across the British Isles with a view to reintroducing it to commercial hives, which produce 5,000 tonnes of honey a year. People are asked to take pictures of it whenever they see it.

Bee populations slumped by 30 per cent in a single winter, 2007-08, the British Beekeepers ...

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