Native Irish Honey Bee Society – Apis mellifera mellifera

Native Irish Honey Bee Society
Apis mellifera mellifera

GBBG Morphometry Survey – Micheál C. Mac Giolla Coda (winter 2007)

Main Objective of Survey

A random survey of native Irish bees carried out some years ago using DNA has proved that there exist in Ireland different strains of Dark European Bee which may not be closely related to each other. We hope to be able to identify these separate strains and also to get an idea of the degree of hybridisation with other foreign races that occur in our native bee populations. We may also use DNA techniques to further confirm the results at a later stage. We are grateful for funding received for this project under the Scheme for Conservation of Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture.

Method of Sampling

At least sixty bees in good condition are required in each sample. Samples can be taken by shaking the bees from a frame into a plastic bucket and then scooping them into a jar or by placing a jar over the feedhole in crownboard and slipping a card under it when enough bees are inside, then turn it upside down and put on the lid. While bees are still flying a sample can be secured by placing a freezer bag across the entrance, Shake the bees down to a corner of the bag and transfer them into a jar. Place the samples in a deep freeze  as soon as possible and keep them there until they can be collected for processing.


It is important to label each sample on the outside of the jar and also inside. Beekeeper’s name and address and telephone no., hive no. and townland where apiary is situated. To avoid personal bias we ask beekeepers to take the sample from hive no.2 if there are more than one hive in the apiary, or the second hive from the left as you face the entrances. If there is only one hive take the sample from that hive.

Collection and Processing

When a number of samples are available in an Association area we will arrange to have them collected and delivered to Cork for processing. We have engaged the services of a student at U.C.C. who in the past year has been working on morphometry projects to do the work of wing mounting and preparation of tongues for measurement and the final analysis using the most up to date electronic programmes for computer processing.


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