black bee distribution british isles
Degrees of Nativeness

The map was adapted from information given by Beowulf Cooper in his book "The Honeybees of the British Isles". It shows the degrees of "nativeness" of A. m. mellifera from wing venation studies in the 1960's.

With regards to Ireland it is interesting to note the presence of bees with a 'low degree of nativeness' in the north, around Dublin on the east coast, and Cork on the south coast.

It will be interesting to compare the results of the morphometric data that is presently being collected by BIBBA's " Project Discovery " to this data from the 60's.
(click here to see some results)
And thus to find out if the presence of the native bee has increased especially after the importation of bees into the RoI was made illegal in 1980. In 2008 the Federation of Irish Beekeepers voted to promote the conservation of the native dark bee A. m. mellifera into its constitution. Leading the way to have the whole of the island of Ireland declared a reserve for A. m. mellifera.

Natural selection should tend to eliminate foreign genes by adapting the black bee to the local environment, and the black bees itself would have its own mechanisms for genetic isolation.
My own bees originated from that area around Cork (red) which on the map was shown to be low in the 'degree of nativeness'. I was particularly interested to find out if indeed there had been a change in the last 50 years.

Encouraged by much information published by BIBBA on morphometric analysis, in 2012 I undertook to examine 4 of my colonies (and later in 2014 7 colonies). However, because I only use a Mac, I was unable to find a Mac program that looked at scanned wings and produced results on the discordal shift and the cubital index. The method which I was to adopt was rather labour intensive but nevertheless produced some interesting results which are shown on the following pages.
See the next page.
Morphometric Analysis
The data from morphometry measurements for the 3 races of Western European honeybee are summarized in the chart:

A. m. mellifera
cubital index (1.3 - 2.1) mean 1.7 : discordal shift is negative.

A. m. ligustica
cubital index (2.0 - 2.7) mean 2.3 : discordal shift is positive.

A. m. carnica
cubital index ( 2.4 - 3.0) mean 2.7 : discordal shift is positive.

Such data enables A. m. mellifera to be easily distinguished from the other two races.
scattergrtams for apis mellifera
Next page - Morphometry 1.
Terms of Use