Vanishing Heritage: Ireland’s ‘Black Bee’ Faces Extinction Due to Influx of Non-Native Queens
New research from the University of Galway sheds light on the endangerment of Ireland’s native honey bee, formerly known as the ‘black bee,’ due to escalating cross-breeding with non-native imports. Despite being a sanctuary for the dark honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera, it currently lacks protection under national legislation, posing a threat to the country’s natural heritage. The study reveals a ten-fold rise in imported queen bees, resulting in a significant surge in hybridization. Classified as ‘livestock’ by the Department, bees enjoy EU freedom of movement, exacerbating the issue. The Native Irish Honey Bee Society calls for urgent political action, underlining the severe impact on the honey bee population and the potential loss of Ireland’s unique beekeeping heritage. The Protection of the Native Irish Honey Bee Bill 2021, introduced by Green Party senator Vincent P Martin, aims to address the crisis but faces delays due to further government-commissioned scientific research. Beekeepers and experts stress the critical need for an import ban to safeguard the precious heritage of the native honeybee’s genetic traits, crucial for Ireland’s biodiversity. Read the article here.