Apis Mellifera Mellifera
It is the local bee of Normandy, interesting for its strong rusticity, its weak tendency to swarm.
It can however be shy during visits and aggressive when hybridized. It is intended more for enlightened amateurs or those wishing to preserve the local breed.
Why is she wanted?
The black bee, or Apis mellifera mellifera, is a European semi-domestic bee. A subspecies of the Apis mellifera genus, it has been present on French territory for thousands of years. Through genetic mutations, this bee has adapted to the climatic conditions and the northern European ecosystem. It is particularly prized by beekeepers for its abundant honey production and its pollinating role.
What are the characteristics of the black bee?
The black bee is slightly larger than the other European bee subspecies. Its body, brown and black, is also of a darker color than its congeners. The abdomen of this bee is large and voluminous. Its trunk is short, and it has many bristles. These allow him to collect pollen in large quantities.
Advantages and disadvantages of this bee
The black bee lives longer than other sub-species of bees. It has adapted particularly well to the harsh climate of Northern Europe. This vigorous bee is not very aggressive. An excellent harvester, she collects nectar and pollen from a wide variety of plants. She also knows how to save her honey reserves in case of a harsh winter. Untiring, the Apis mellifera mellifera is very appreciated by beekeepers for its qualities of forager and the variety of its productions. Pollinator, it also allows the reproduction of flowering plants. The black bee is one of the insects essential to biodiversity and therefore to the survival of mankind. It is, consequently, urgent to preserve it.
Its queen can be a bit shy and aggressive when hybridized. Independently, this little bee has it all.
What future for the black bee?
This bee is endangered for several reasons.
- A naturally modified genetic heritage
- Colony Collapse Disorder
For about ten years, different subspecies of bees have been introduced in France. These bees, less armed for the climate of Northern Europe, are fragile. The Apis mellifera mellifera tends to hybridize with these imported bees of different species, thus endangering its own survival. For beekeepers, controlling the swarming of the black bee is paramount. Nevertheless, it is possible to remedy this mix of species by defining a 3 km perimeter around the apiaries, away from other species. The goal is to allow this ancient strain of bees to retain its unique characteristics.
Widely used in beekeeping, this valiant bee is a victim of colony collapse disorder. As early as 1998, French beekeepers noticed that almost all of their bee colonies had disappeared from their apiaries, most often at the end of winter. Inexplicable, this phenomenon is particularly worrisome because it is now spreading to other regions of the world. Pesticides seem to be one of the tracks followed by scientists to explain this mysterious disappearance of bees, but the varroa mite, a parasite of the bee, may be another. This mite weakens the bees’ immune system and makes them susceptible to disease. However, there are natural solutions to rid bees of this pest which remains the number one enemy of bees.
How to choose your queens to start beekeeping ?
It is necessary to favour local species, i.e. black bees, and to choose the breeding of a professional beekeeper. Only species with at least 90% of the genes of Apis mellifera mellifera can be considered as belonging to it. Indeed, these species have the ideal combination of genes for the French territory. It is better to turn to a specialist in bee breeding, in order to be sure of the strain from which the queens come, their DNA having been tested.
To learn more about bees: Wikipedia