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Apis mellifera mellifera

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The European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) was domesticated in modern times, and taken to North America in colonial times. These small, dark-colored honey bees are sometimes called the German black bee, although they occurred originally from Britain to eastern Central Europe.

There are three main subspecies, namely

* mellifera (brown bee)
* lehzeni (heathland bee)
* nigra (black bee),

which have local variants, such as the Pomeranian Brown, the Alps Black, or the Black Scandinavian. All of the subspecies belong to the 'M' lineage of Apis mellifera.

The European dark bee can be distinguished from other subspecies by their stocky body, abundant thoracal and sparse abdominal hair which is brown, and overall dark coloration; in nigra, there is also heavy dark pigmentation of the wings. Overall, when viewed from a distance, they should appear blackish, or in mellifera, rich dark brown. The aggressive feral hybrids with other subspecies can be distinguished by the lighter, yellowish banding on the sides of the abdomen, but this is often difficult. For breeding pure dark bees according to the standard, details of the wing veins are nowadays considered to be the only reliable distinguishing character

Hybrids have a defensive character and have the reputation of stinging people (and other creatures) for no apparent reason. Some colonies are very "runny" on the comb and so excitable that beekeepers consider them difficult to work with. This characteristic is not, however, one that has been traditionally associated with the dark bee breeds, which were previously known for their rather easy handling (though they have never been considered as placid as the Carniolan honey bee).

Their qualities are:

* significant winter hardiness
* low tendency to swarm
* some lines are very gentle
* defensive against invaders i.e. wasps
* careful, maritime brood cycle
* strong drive to collect pollen
* high longevity of the worker bees and queen
* excellent flight strength even in cold weather
* possibly hardiness against varroa.

Apis mellifera mellifera is no longer a significant commercial subspecies of the Western honey bee, but there are a number of dedicated hobbyist beekeepers that keep these bees in Europe and other parts of the world. Immigrants brought these subspecies into the Americas. Prior to their arrival, the American continent did not have any honey bees. Hybrid descendants of the original colonial black bees may also have survived in North America as feral bees. There are reports by beekeepers that, after the arrival of the Varroa mite on the American continent in 1987, some feral bee colonies survived. The original form is no longer present in North America. A common myth regarding European black bees is that they cannot sting because they do not have a stinger.

In Western Europe, dark bee breeds were the original honey bee stock until creation of the Buckfast bee. This is a hybrid breed whose progeny includes salvaged remnants of the British black bee, nearly extinct by then due to Acarapis woodi (acarine mite). The breeding stocks in Central Europe were nearly destroyed by order of the Nazis, who considered the honey yields not up to modern standards and wanted to "improve" the bee stocks kept in areas under their control.

This led to the creation of more aggressive, high-yield breeds (probably by cross-breeding dark and Buckfast high-yield strains with Carniolan honey bees), which, however, were very susceptible to Varroa mite infection and unpleasant to handle and were dropped from use after World War II, but just as in North America, some feral colonies survive. In the United States, 'M' lineage honey bees have been found in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Missouri, based on DNA sequencing analysis [3]Dedicated breeders and research facilities are today working on preserving and spreading what could be saved from the original stocks. There are only a handful of colonies present in Germany, but larger numbers have survived in Norway (lehzeni), the Alps (nigra) and Poland and Belgium (mellifera).
 

wojciech 

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British Black Bees in Poland

Default British Black Bees in Poland


I see that there is a state sponsored bee breeding station in a forested area of north eastern Poland that is dedicated to the preservation of Mellifera Mellifera as potentially of genetic value.

Should British enthusiasts of the British Black (which does not exist according to our seasonal bee inspector ) be looking to import some queens from Poland ?
 
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The above reads like a cut and paste from somewhere - the clue is the presence of a reference, e.g. [3].

It also reads like the typical view of those who look at Amm through rose tinted spectacles. It also contains at least one error:

In Western Europe, dark bee breeds were the original honey bee stock until creation of the Buckfast bee.

I don't think so. They might have been the original stock but bees were being imported into the UK from Italy from around the mid-19th Century and reports from the time commented how much better the new bees were at foraging in cold weather - a trait supposed to be the preserve of Amm!
 

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I have noted before and do so again that those who live in the far south have a much less positive opinion of AMM than those from the north.

Possibly because the climatic advantages of AMM are stronger to the north?

PH
 

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The Irish stock are mostly AMM or a cross breed of them , they seem to weather better in our damp winter & sometimes summers
 

Steved6530 

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Beekeeping in Devon with a strain of Exeters heinz 57 bee. Would dearly love to have AMM in the home apiary...........

One day perhaps


Steve
 

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Just a litlle something about the near extinct Apis mm this bee shows some behavioral characters indicating its relation to the North African bees- nervous behavior, irritability, and considerable use of propolis.
The history of Apis mm in its present boundaries is the history of the postglacial period in Europe, a time span of not more than 10,000 years.Apis mm came from the West Mediterranean coast through France and Germany to England, southern Scandinavia , and North Russia. apis m carnica came from the west Mediterranean coast to the Alps, the Danube valley and southern Russia.
Most of the experimental work with honey bees in central and western Europe was done with this black bee or its (uncontrolled)hybrids. At present, the Apis mm bee is heavily hybridized in many countries, especially those of Central Europe.
Hows that?
Boring boring!!!!!!

Mo
 
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Just a litlle something about the near extinct Apis mm this bee shows some behavioral characters indicating its relation to the North African bees- nervous behavior, irritability, and considerable use of propolis.
The history of Apis mm in its present boundaries is the history of the postglacial period in Europe, a time span of not more than 10,000 years.Apis mm came from the West Mediterranean coast through France and Germany to England, southern Scandinavia , and North Russia. apis m carnica came from the west Mediterranean coast to the Alps, the Danube valley and southern Russia.
Most of the experimental work with honey bees in central and western Europe was done with this black bee or its (uncontrolled)hybrids. At present, the Apis mm bee is heavily hybridized in many countries, especially those of Central Europe.
Hows that?
Boring boring!!!!!!

Mo
Any correlation with beech tree / other flora moving north, post glaciation?
Has climate change / Milancovich events has any influence on distribution of AMM or Mediteranean species in northern europe?
 

DanBee 

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I have noted before and do so again that those who live in the far south have a much less positive opinion of AMM than those from the north.

Possibly because the climatic advantages of AMM are stronger to the north?

PH
Yes. Of course you could phrase it the other way round: that the disadvantages of Amm are more apparent in the South and East... population cycles don't follow forage cycles, lower productivity, temperament, etc.

Not a comment about you, PH, but it's odd that I've just been reading the 'pompous beekeepers' thread - it seems the Amm advocates risk falling into this trap, since they preach that their one bee suits everybody's needs, management style, climate, forage... :)
 

Norton 

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There are three main subspecies, namely

* mellifera (brown bee)
* lehzeni (heathland bee)
* nigra (black bee),
Subspecies of a subspecies????
Get your facts right.
Norton.
 

mbc 

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"I've just been reading the 'pompous beekeepers' thread - it seems the Amm advocates risk falling into this trap, since they preach that their one bee suits everybody's needs, management style, climate, forage... "

I'd say the opposite was true, and that most Amm keepers quietly keep their bees without preaching at all and certainly dont push their bees or beekeeping practises on anybody who doesnt ask first - still, beekeeping and beekeepers tend to be different in each locality
 

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Hi Norton
Who is your comment re There are three main subspecies, namely

refering to ?
was it myself?

Mo
 

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"I've just been reading the 'pompous beekeepers' thread - it seems the Amm advocates risk falling into this trap, since they preach that their one bee suits everybody's needs, management style, climate, forage... "

I'd say the opposite was true, and that most Amm keepers quietly keep their bees without preaching at all and certainly dont push their bees or beekeeping practises on anybody who doesnt ask first - still, beekeeping and beekeepers tend to be different in each locality
:iagree:
Although down here AMM have been talked about at assoc meetings it was because they were asked to come and talk about them. I'm looking forward to getting some near native soon, I hope. Having apparently 'asked the right questions and given the right answers' since i started keeping bees last year, I've been asked if I would like to join the local group which at the moment is by invitation only.

Hardly having it pushed down our throats.
 

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To all those who wish to keep the species of Apis mm I sincerely wish you all well as in my opinion she is not worth the effort.
For many of you you will be pleased to see the back end of me concerning this subjuct. I am now bowing out of this subject as it does not interest me in the slightest.

Mo
 

Bcrazy 

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Members if you want Apis mm then you are going to have to do some very serious bee-breeding which concerns genetics and alleles etc and to my mind there is not enough knowledge out there to do this. So you would be better off trying to sort out better lineage from the bees you have. And stop this nonsense about Apis mm.

Mo
 

mbc 

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Members if you want Apis mm then you are going to have to do some very serious bee-breeding which concerns genetics and alleles etc and to my mind there is not enough knowledge out there to do this. So you would be better off trying to sort out better lineage from the bees you have. And stop this nonsense about Apis mm.

Mo
Same could be said of any bee apart from maybe carnies from Germany or Denmark (and anybody who's been in the game for a while has seen how those swarmy bastards can behave ) so I'm not sure what your angle with the anti amm message is Mo.
Every subspecies of apis mellifera started from the same source, diverged and adapted to particular localities and will eventually go the way of all things back to the same source.
I have amm bees and I'm very happy with them although I'm sure they have a little italian and carniolan and caucasian in them as these are the bees the commercial outfits surrounding me import from whoevers cheapest at the time. If left to their own devices the bees in these outfits would more likely reach an approximation of mine ( native amm types ) than mine would suddenly turn foreign, but I'm not worried so long as my bees still do the job for me .
Still waiting on genetic results from 'project discovery' and hoping to dissprove doom-mongering accusations of lack of knowledge and nonsensical amm's
 

keith pierce 

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Here is a picture of one of my black queen coming back from a mating flight.
I do belive that if there was a total ban on imports and just left the bees to natural selection that this is what you would get. I dont do the morphometery thing, but just breed from the best allrounders each year.

[
image upload
 

greatbritishhoney 

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Members if you want Apis mm then you are going to have to do some very serious bee-breeding which concerns genetics and alleles etc and to my mind there is not enough knowledge out there to do this. So you would be better off trying to sort out better lineage from the bees you have. And stop this nonsense about Apis mm.

Mo
I thought you were bowing out because the subject didn't interest you?
 

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