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Thread: Is there a native honey bee

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Default Is there a native honey bee

    Post moved from the 'Restocking Options' thread. Gavin.

    I see the native bee topic has come up again is there any such thing as a native bee there is Apis millifera millifera but here in Ireland there is some research ongoing into native bees and so far there is no proof there is anything native or indiginious about them.
    While there are some beekeepers making a living out of bee keeping every one else that I know of are selling honey on the black market if that is the correct term, so while you have on person paying tax eg PRSI vat etc the small producer gets cash all the way. While honey itself is exempt from tax the extra income you recieve is not.I have being at discussions where people talked about compensation from the goverment for loss of bees or compensation from farmers for putting bees on their crops but they the beekeepers even refuse to register their bees, Over here we even have to register chickens if you keep them. After all bees are Livestock. Alclosier I now know of 3 beekeepers under 30
    Last edited by gavin; 05-04-2016 at 09:01 AM.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greengage View Post
    [COLOR=#800080] and so far there is no proof there is anything native or indiginious about them.
    According to who?

    The DNA work currently being undertaken at LIT has shown that dozens of samples collected around Ireland are pure or almost pure Amm based on the microsatellite markers looked at and the 'M' lineage mitochondrial DNA.

    Quoting from Jack Hassett the guy who is doing the research:
    Throughout the course of this project to date, approximately 275 hives from 26 bee breeders from across the country have be sampled. From these hives, approximately 180 microsatellite and 80 mitochondrial sequences have been generated and all are either completely analysed or else in the advanced stages of analysis.
    From the completely analysed samples, all samples were determined to be greater than 95% pure Apis mellifera mellifera via microsatellite analysis.
    More background info on native bees at:
    http://nihbs.org/

    This paper from 2005 also looks at European Amm populations including the Irish one
    Varying degrees of Apis mellifera ligustica introgression in protected populations of the black honeybee,
    Apis mellifera mellifera, in northwest Europe
    Last edited by Jon; 05-04-2016 at 09:51 AM.

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    prakel posted an interesting link showing a mechanism whereby the bees choosing the larva to raise queens from meant certain "Royal" lineages are favoured
    So there's a possible mechanism for 50% of the genetics going forward in open mating in hybrised areas
    Can't apply that to grafted larva though there you would still need a closed population
    If its right and I understood it

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    I was also at that Talk by Jack hassett and Dr Jane McCormack, I also remember the slide with a family tree of Apis millifera and the piece about the markers, There is still no confirmation of an indiginious Native Honey bee she said things were looking good. There are lots of different bees around if and when they do confirm there is such a thing how to protect it when queens are out mateing, "Non-native subspecies of honeybees have been introduced and propagated, so that native black honeybee (Apis mellifera mellifera) populations lost their identity by gene-flow or went extinct. " I think it would be great if a population existed and could be preserved but you would have to be sceptical. As a matter of intrest I have dark coloured Honey bees and have asked Jack to test them as I recieved them from a breeder who told me they were native?? they are dark in colour in an urban area with lots of mongrols. Did I not read somewhere that the germans tried to replace Apis milifera millifera with Apis carnica. http://www.ibrabee.org.uk/component/...apis-mellifera. I will have to check my notes from the talk.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    I am not quoting from the presentations at the AGM.
    Grace McCormack's work is at Galway, NUIG, not LIT and involves a different project to do with varroa tolerance. Her PhD student is Keith Browne.
    I have regular correspondence with Jack about the progress of his work.
    The native bee of Ireland is Apis mellifera mellifera. That is not in dispute by anyone.
    Amm had a historic range from the west of Europe through to the Urals but the distribution has become fragmented now.
    Any bee subspecies whether Amm, Carnica or Ligustica carries a wide range of genetic variation within its population.
    The issue is whether the population has become seriously hybridised with other subspecies or Buckfast and it appears that it has not been, based on the initial work carried out.
    Amm Queens have been swapped all around the British Isles by Bibba members for decades. Historically some Amm was brought into the British Isles from France and Holland. That will have left a genetic trace I imagine but does it matter? Not to me.
    I would not expect Scottish Amm to be hugely different from Irish Amm but I dare say there a a few markers which would show a difference. This is of no practical significance though as the main issue would be hybridisation with different subspecies as opposed to some crossing between ecotypes of the same subspecies.

    The Germans have tried to replace their native Amm population with Carnica over a number of decades. I think this started in the 1930s.
    According to Robin Moritz the German 'Carnica' population still contains some Amm genetics
    Last edited by Jon; 05-04-2016 at 12:36 PM.

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    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greengage View Post
    There is still no confirmation of an indiginious Native Honey bee she said things were looking good.

    "Non-native subspecies of honeybees have been introduced and propagated, so that native black honeybee (Apis mellifera mellifera) populations lost their identity by gene-flow or went extinct. "
    What's this thread about exactly?

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    Senior Member Greengage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prakel View Post
    What's this thread about exactly?
    I posted a comment about native bees on the restocking of Scotland honey bees, I queried if there was such a thing as a native honey bee, I never said anywhere Is there such a thing as a native Irish honey bee, the topic title was added by Gavin I think, Jon is more of an expert on Native Irish Honey bees than me. I am just not convinced, I cannot look at my dark coloured bees and say they are indigenous to Ireland, My problem is that I cannot look at the Bee in question and say yes that is an indigenous native Irish honey bee (Apis millifera millifera,) If bee keepers have to use DNA markers to identify bees it is way out of my league. I got interested in this through monitoring Bumble bees and Hover flies. If you take Bombus lucorum workers they are said to be a complex species B. lucorum, B. cryptarum and B. magnus. These three species cannot be reliably distinguished from each other. Therefore they are recorded as B lucorum agg.
    Iam a member of NIHBS, I have attended a number of their courses and conferences and think they do great work and I look forward to the results of the study by Jack.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Thing is GG, the stuff about Amm 'dying out' was propagated by Brother Adam as it paved the way for his his solution - the Buckfast bee, which has been a popular choice commercially all over the world.
    Sure, DNA work is out of the budget of most beekeepers but this project at LIT has let a lot of the main Amm breeders in Ireland submit samples for testing free of charge.
    Aoife and Micheál Mac Giolla Coda sent in dozens of samples for testing.
    This is really useful as it means that any stock showing significant hybridisation can be discounted as a breeder stock.
    Some of the samples taken were split and one half was sent to a DNA lab in Switzerland for testing so that results can be compared to give a certain amount of validation to the methodology at LIT.
    I think I am the only beekeeper who sent in samples from NI. The rest of the samples are from all over RoI.

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Sorry Greengage. I did add the title, having decided to shift the post from the Restocking Options thread. I've just modified the title to make it broader, which I think reflects the content of your post.

    My take on this is that no strain is going to be completely pure but there are plenty around in Ireland and some in Scotland that are close to it.

    German carnica has some Amm in it. NZ carnica has the cytoplasm of the Italians it was crossed into (as imported sperm) and has other ligustica genes in the already impure carnica that came from Germany.

    Some 'Amm' in Ireland or Scotland will be, to some extent, derived from hybrids with the other types of bee around ... and if the hybrids crossed back to Amm they will be quite close to Amm but will still carry some DNA from other types.

    I'm just accepting that the Amm some of us keep in Scotland is close to the original but can never be completely pure now. The Colonsay stock was isolated before the recent burst of importing and mixing up the genepool but these stocks would also have been exposed to imports too.

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Just to add to Jon's comments on Brother Adam, we see today the huge exaggeration made about bee losses by some beekeepers and the media - CCD for example, and 'the bees are dying' in just about every newspaper in recent years. It is what people do, talk up the crises. Did Brother Adam make extensive sorties around Scotland and Ireland with an open mind, looking to see if all the bees had died? No, he will have been listening to Chinese whispers in a time when it wasn't possible to quiz people on the internet to see if it was really true.

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