July 23, 2018, the European Commission reacted to an initiative voted a few months earlier by the European Parliament, calling for support for the beekeeping sector and for measures to protect local bees. But in its reply, the Commission completely omitted this request from MEPs. An oversight, contempt?
Jack Hasset, a doctorate student in Limerick Institute of Technology in the UK has discovered in 2017, thanks to genetic tests on honeybees in Ireland, that Apis mellifera mellifera (or dark honeybee, native subspecies of the region) is not extinct after all. This contradicts the myth of its disappearance from Ireland’s lands, and calls for its preservation, especially as massive imports of other subspecies occur.
At a conference, European experts came to talk about European local bees in Malta, in light of data collected with the SmartBees project. This project shows clearly that the maltese local bee, Apis mellifera ruttneri, is one of the most endangered european subspecies. Experts stressed the need of conservation projects in order to avoid losing this maltese subspecie’s unique genetic identity.
Scientists from the Research Institute of Environmental Sciences of the University of Saragossa are working on a project to characterize and preserve the endemic dark bee of the autonomous community of Aragon, Apis mellifera iberiensis. This honeybee subspecies is quite well preserved compared to other European countries, but it's in danger due to certain threats, such as hybridization. (Spanish article)
In addition to the many factors that are decimating bee colonies throughout the world, the dark bees, Western and Northern Europe's local bees, are confronted with demands of short-term profitability that favour importation of bees often more fragile and unsuitable for our territories. It is urgent we protect them.
In 2013, Colonsay and Oronsay islands in Scotland became havens for native honeybees, the Apis mellifera mellifera. The Scottish black bee is now legally protected on those islands thanks to the campaigning of beekeepers and associations. This conservation action is justified by the fact that native honeybees are more adapted to their natural habitat.