Native Irish Honey Bee Society – Apis mellifera mellifera

Native Irish Honey Bee Society
Apis mellifera mellifera

Statement regarding potential honeybee imports into Ireland

The Statement below from NIHBS is also supported by IBA, UBKA and INIB. These
organisations cover a substantial number of beekeepers in Ireland.
IBA – The Irish Bee Beekeepers Association CLG has approximately 1200 members from 24 affiliated local beekeeping associations and one of their objectives is to foster the skills of beekeeping, in an environmentally sustainable manner.
UBKA – The Ulster Beekeepers Association is an Association of fourteen affiliated local
Beekeeping Associations in Ulster with approximately 1200 members.
INIB – The Institute of Northern Ireland Beekeepers is a charitable organisation and is an
affiliated area association of the BBKA. It has a deep commitment to educating and
informing the public about beekeeping. Each year the INIB runs a programme of events to
help inform and educate people about honeybees and about the craft of beekeeping.

STATEMENT from The Native Irish Honey Bee Society on Importing Bees into

The Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS) is an all-Ireland organisation of about 500
members, whose sole aim is the conservation and preservation of the population of Native
Irish Honey Bees – Apis mellifera mellifera.

Reports in the media continue about importing even more bees to Ireland and apart from the danger of hybridisation for native bees we all know there are major risks of also importing pests, diseases and pathogens – therefore a threat to ALL our bees. Everyone who loves bees, no matter what association or organisation they belong to, can appreciate the potential damage – we have seen what Varroa did, and now those who enjoy beekeeping as a hobby or who are making their living from bees may have their enjoyment/livelihood threatened -simply to increase someone else's profits.

The Dark European Honeybee, Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm) is on the brink of extinction over most of its original territory of Northern Europe. It has been hybridised due to imports of other sub species and consequent cross breeding, as well as being severely impacted by imported pests and diseases.

Pure strains still exist throughout Ireland however and scientific research has shown that such a widespread population of pure A. m. mellifera has not been reported elsewhere in Europe.
Have you read this paper? (Full article: A significant pure population of the dark European
honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) remains in Ireland ( It is now widely
acknowledged that Ireland has a unique genetic resource which needs to be protected for the sake of its future in Ireland but also in European Amm breeding programs.
A recent survey by the National University of Galway (NUIG) confirmed that about 90% of
beekeepers in Ireland work with Amm (of 350 respondents) and there is a significant interest in using the local bee. A separate survey by the Irish Beekeepers Association (IBA) showed that 82% use Amm, 7% Buckfast, 2% other and 5% do not know. The native black bee is actually the preferred bee for large scale honey producers as it is so well adapted to our particular environment.

Many NIHBS members have been working for 30 years and more to improve, conserve and preserve our local bee – all volunteers, simply doing the right thing for the bees. Many local Beekeeping associations have created Voluntary Conservation Areas where beekeepers agree to work with Amm only – obviously imported bees have a detrimental effect here and some areas are now being severely threatened with the introgression of non-native bees.

We all know how devastating an invasion of Small Hive Beetle could be. In Ireland, we
stayed free from Varroa for many years after it arrived into UK, until it was brought in here
on imported bees, very soon it was everywhere and we have had to struggle with the
consequences ever since. We understand that EFB is now wide spread in some parts of UK –
we are very fearful of what that could do to our stocks, especially the newly spreading Type 3 strain of EFB? The Asian Hornet is another significant threat.

These pests/diseases/pathogens may also damage our Bumbles, Solitary and other Wild bees – our biodiversity – already 1/3rd of Irish bees are threatened with extinction.

The awful thing is that we beekeepers CAN stop these threats, if we work together and all
agree to do so. It is not too late! It really does not make sense to bring in non-native bees to this island. It makes sense to propagate from our good stocks here and improve them.

It is unfair for any individual or Bee Trader to take the decision on themselves to import bees when they might also be importing pests, diseases or pathogens, not to mention the as yet unknown or undiscovered ones. Please do not take the risk.

We urge everyone to respect our native honey bee and not to import any bees into any part of Ireland. We ask all Beekeeping groups in Ireland to encourage beekeepers to purchase local bees from reputable beekeepers.

While we still can, let us appreciate what we have, nurture it and save it for the future.

The Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS) – Chairperson, Aoife Nic Giolla Coda
The Irish Bee Beekeepers Association CLG (IBA) – Chairperson, Derek Hanley
The Ulster Beekeepers Association (UBKA) – Chairperson, John Hill
The Institute of Northern Ireland Beekeepers(INIB) – Chairperson, Lyndon Wortley
19th March 2021

Some useful links here:-

Bee importation

BIBBA Opposes the Importation of Honey Bees and Queens




One Response

  1. Hello,
    This year, I need I want to join the queen rearing group located at M1.
    For this, I would like to have information on the conditions of admission, among other things how and how much to pay the membership fees. Thank you for letting me know.

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