Native Irish Black Bees

We rear Native Irish Black Queen Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera). Native Irish Honey Bees are under threat due to hybridisation with foreign strains of honey bee. It is important to protect our native honey bees at as a genetic resource. They are very special. Importations of honey bees into Ireland and the propagation of non-native sub-species have a negative effect on our native honey bees.

The Native Irish Honey Bee is a strain of the Dark European Honey Bee which was once native to most of Europe north of the Alps. It is now relatively scarce in mainland Europe. Through DNA research carried out by Jack Hassett at Limerick Institute of Technology from 2014 to 2018, it has been shown that Ireland has the largest populations in the world, along with being genetically diverse.

Galtee Honey Farm were involved in this research from the beginning and the first samples to be tested were from our bees. Galtee Honey Farm were also involved in a European wide genetic testing project (BABE) carried out by Bo Vest Pederson at University of Copenhagen in 2000. Our bees were identified as being ecotypes of Apis mellifera mellifera termed ‘Galtee’ and ‘Glengarra’. Through this project it was discovered that our bees were almost identical to the Tasmanian Black Bee which is widely believed to be the purest strain of Dark European Honey Bee in the world. The DNA carried out in both projects showed that our bees are 95% to 100% Apis mellifera mellifera.

Why are Native Honey Bees Important?
– Known as ‘Black Bees’ due to appearance, but colouration may vary
– Naturally adapted to the Irish climate
– Can be very docile with low swarming tendencies
– They are ideal for Irish honey production
– Excellent at sparing their stores during bad weather
– Can fly at lower temperatures
– Good honey producers, even in poor weather conditions
– Genetically diverse populations in Ireland

We (Micheál and Aoife) are proud of our involvement in the formation of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society and of giving it ongoing help and support. We are patrons of NIHBS and have also contributed the sum of €5,000 to the NIHBS Research Fund which helps to support the important work of LIT and NUIG into research on the Native Irish Honey Bee.

NIHBS was established in 2012 by a group of beekeepers who wish to support the various strains of Native Irish Honey Bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) throughout the country. It is a cross border organisation and is open to all. It consists of members and representatives from all corners of the island of Ireland.

To promote the conservation, study, improvement and re-introduction of Apis mellifera mellifera (Native Irish Honey Bee), throughout the island of Ireland.
To establish areas of conservation throughout the island for the conservation of the Native Irish honey bee.

To promote the formation of Bee Improvement groups. To provide education on Bee improvement and to increase public awareness of the native Irish honey bee. To act in an advisory capacity to groups and individuals who wish to promote it.

To co-operate with other Bee-Keeping organisations with similar aims.
To seek the help of the scientific community and other stake holders in achieving our aims and objectives.

For more information on the Native Irish Honey Bee Society, log onto www.nihbs.org