Save our native Irish black bees
Save our native Irish black bees
Why this petition matters
Irish Native honey bee Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm)
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.
Ireland has 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 vast majority of these DNA samples studied showed greater than 95% purity, experts consider anything over 90% to be a pure form of a species.
The researcher found that not only are the bees a pure form of Apis mellifera mellifera, the native honeybee for northern Europe and Ireland, but they also have unique DNA markers that are specific to Ireland
Further research in 2018 & 2019 by NUIG and LIT into these unique DNA markers from our native honey bee, found more detailed evidence of a native sub species of Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm) found only in Ireland. Population structure analysis using DNA microsatellite markers indicates that the Irish population is genetically diverse and that 97.8% of sampled bees were determined to be pure Apis mellifera mellifera
Ireland may well be the last place in Europe where a sustainable population of Apis mellifera mellifera is possible.
This new study proves that Ireland now has potentially the greatest reserve of Apis mellifera mellifera in the world, the honeybee that dominated all northern Europe after the last Ice age.
The threats our native honey bee face
Imports of other non-native bee species will dilute our the genetic makeup of our native honey bee, Introgression of genetic material from imports of other subspecies into the Irish native bee population would change it irreversibly. Our native honey bee has adapted to our maritime damp climate and can forage in low temperatures
The importation of bees through a Brexit loophole is an immediate threat. The loophole goes around a UK ban on EU imports of bees since Brexit by importing bees into Northern Ireland from the EU and then transferring them to the UK. Unfortunately, this is a threat to the whole Island of Ireland from various diseases, spores, mites, & hive beetles that will wipe out or native bees.
In one particular case a UK bee keepers has set up an area in northern Ireland to import bees from Italy, these Italian bees are in an area close to a region that has the small hive beetle, which we don't have here so far. These Italian bees will be imported to northern Ireland until they get cleared to transfer to the UK and in the meantime will be allowed out & mix with our own native bees. While they will have some veterinary inspection in the North it is impossible to detect tiny beetles, or microscopic spores from other diseases. This is a serious threat to our Island. No different to how Varroa which arrived into Ireland in 1998 from imports and wiped out 30% of the countries honey bee stocks, also foul broods in bees and the likes Ash die back fungus or other tree diseases, or covid strains that got here. Remember foot & mouth got into the Island from a truck load of sheep that came from UK through NI into Louth in 2001.
Another threat is some of the major UK bee keepers are actively looking for Irish agents in both the north and south of Ireland to set up Nuc and Queen rearing factories to supply the UK and Ireland. They aim to supply 1000 Queens and 1000 Nuc’s of bees by 2024 (Nucleus of bees is a small bee colony or package with a laying queen which can be developed into a full hive). The seed stock for these proposed queen rearing factories or businesses will be imported bees from the UK and from other parts of Europe into Ireland with the Bexit loophole. All this information has being advertised by one of the bigger UK bee keepers and orders are currently being sought to sell within the UK and Ireland for these non-native queens and Nucs.
This is the biggest threat to our native bees if this goes ahead, our unique gene pool would be destroyed, bee keepers from the 32 counties would suffer severe problems with cross contamination from other foreign species leaving bees unmanageable, possible introduction of new diseases, loss of honey production, and ultimately a loss to our bio diversity by allowing invasive non native species of bees into the Island.
The Native Irish bee society NIHBS and the Federation of Irish Beekeepers FIBKA has raised this with DAFM who are powerless on their own to prevent imports without government support.
The government needs to block the imports of bees immediately? In order to ensure the survival of our native bees
The government need to block this Brexit loophole allowing Northern Ireland to be used as a back door to supply the UK market with bees and Queens?