Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm), the native Irish honey bee has survived on the island of Ireland for 1000’s of years. A period of near extinction due to the ‘Isle–of-Wight-disease’ (Acarine mites) led to the importation of non-native strains of honey bees (HB) into Ireland over the last 100 years resulting in some hybridisation between native and non native strains and subspecies. Importation has also led to the introduction of new parasites and diseases, most famously the Varroa destructor mite and associated viruses in 1998. Currently, the proportion of Ireland’s HB population that are native Amm strains is unknown as is their distribution. Previous studies by leading Bee-Breeding-Groups such as Galtee bee breeding group (GBBG) indicated that there is a significant native population of Amm in Ireland.
Read more about Jack Hassett’s work at LIT