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Highland black bees not wild enough to be saved

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Stiffy 

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Received this today and thought it might be of interest and maybe worth discussing?


Published Date: 24 January 2010
By Jenny Fyall
THEY outnumber human inhabitants by 30,000 to one but are still in dire need of protection. Yet a four-year campaign to save the black honeybee of Colonsay from alien invasion has hit a bureaucratic brick wall.
Beekeeper Andrew Abrahams, who runs hives containing three million of the insects on the Hebridean island (human population about 100) wants the government to make Colonsay Scotland's first legally enshrined bee "reserve". He hopes this will ensure that rival beekeepers do not introduce other, more common, species to the island.

However, the government refuses to act, saying that the black bee - Apis mellifera mellifera - is a "domesticated species" and so does not qualify for reserve status under current wildlife legislation.

Without protection, Abrahams fears the future of the native bees, which have lived in Scotland since the last Ice Age and now exist in isolated pockets, is at risk due to the threat of cross-breeding with other species as well as disease.

Abrahams has looked after black bees on Colonsay for 30 years and has about 60 hives, each with some 50,000 insects.

Speaking for the first time about his plans to turn Colonsay into a reserve, he said: "They are a genetic resource and that is why they need to be protected. These bees are good in hard weather. They have adapted to their environment here in Scotland. So they are very hardy and they don't mind the rain. I would compare them to Highland cattle. You can shove them out in the winter and they look after themselves pretty well. The black bee is hardy and thrifty."

A dramatic slump in numbers of honeybees on the mainland has forced fruit growers to seek replacements from countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Slovakia. But foreign bees can carry diseases that could wipe out the already vulnerable native variety.

However, government advisers say there are no laws available that can be used to protect the black bees should foreign insects be introduced to Colonsay.

Abrahams said: "It's very, very frustrating. Even though ministers are saying they want to do something, they pass it down the line and there's nobody on the ground who is picking it up."

Black bee reserves have been created in France, Germany, Poland, Spain and Norway - usually on islands or in isolated mountain areas.

The Scottish Government says that the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981, previously used to create reserves for red deer on the islands of Rum, Jura and Arran, could not be used because the black bee is considered a domesticated creature.

Professor Alan Teale, president of the Scottish Beekeepers' Association, said: "Some of its (the bee's] characteristics are very useful, particularly its adaptability to local climatic conditions, and that's why it should be conserved.

"This business about there not being legislation to do it is a nonsense. You can always make legislation."
 

Baggyone 

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Wake up and smell the coffee please government! We have just found the AMM holy grail and the pen pushers won't do anything.
Makes me angry and more than a little sad.
 

Black Comb 

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I'm surprised at this as the Scottish government usually stands up for Scotland.

Are they domesticated?
 

admin 

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Let a colony swarm this year,you then have a wild colony that need protecting.
 

Finman 

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In my country, if some cow escape to woods and become wild, it is not protected, it will be shooted.

This wild cow went to blessed pastures..29.10.2009

In another place 10 beef cows herd become wild.

 

PaleoPerson 

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In my country, if some cow escape to woods and become wild, it is not protected, it will be shooted.

This wild cow went to blessed pastures..29.10.2009

In another place 10 beef cows herd become wild.

If one was cynical, one might saw that the cow was dragged into 'the wilderness' looking at the marks in the ground behind it. :)
 

Hombre 

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What lengths to go to for a photo opportunity and that looks like a fella that was going to make the most of it. Just a pity he never thought about a camera angle that might not make it look quite so contrived.

With a scope like that one, he wasn't about to take a chance of missing. He probably whanged it at about 25m range and coupled with his thick glasses he may have been able to vaguely identify a point somewhere between it's eyes.

It's a photograph that will have probably have pride of place on his sideboard for many years. :)

It's one way of ensuring your dairy and beef cattle don't step out of line. :)
 

MuswellMetro 

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I'm surprised at this as the Scottish government usually stands up for Scotland.

Are they domesticated?
perhaps if we called them Scottish black bees rather than British black Bee the scottish goverment might act
 

Norton 

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An isolated population of bees?

Hello,
If these bees are indeed an isolated population of AMM and have been so for a long period of time, then my personal view is that they should be kept that way. Is there any proof that they are a pure population of AMM? What characters separate them from any other bee and are these characters special in some way that makes them worth preserving?

If the beekeeper and the author of the copy want to convince anyone about the situation and about their scientific knowledge, they first of all should know the difference between a species, a subspecies and local ecotypes and secondly I would like to know what/which diseases will be introduced into the local population from the imports? We keep on seeing these statements from AMM enthusiasts which have no scientific basis at all. The disease/pest situation is the same throughout the EU and a risk assessment has been and continues to be made for the importation of bees from other EU countries.
best regards
Norton.
 
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It's a re-run of the Black Bee of Læsø in Denmark saga. Same situation, Government refused to give it protection allowing other bees to be brought on to the island.
 

Finman 

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If I tell about our "saga", individual beekeepers may propose what ever, but it is against normal justice. Noone can omit another's land to his own "territory" or prevent others business.

Beekeeper's proposals/dreams in our land

- Varroa free area Lapland, no one other is allowed to bring bees to the area.

- Refuge for German Black bees. No other races are allowed on area.
(we have a couple of black bee keepers) When German Black was common 20 years ago, no one took care of its breeding.

- Finland should be devided to different race areas to keep races pure.
Other races are not allowed to keep.

- Mating areas should be protected and no other beekeepers should bring hives nearby.

- Hives should be in digital map that others see, what pastures are occupied
- nice map to thieves.

We have common laws and in line with European Union. Who eved could make his own "territories" for what ever reason.
 
Last edited:

gavin 

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Hi Norton

If these bees are indeed an isolated population of AMM and have been so for a long period of time, then my personal view is that they should be kept that way.
He collected six different Amm stocks from across mainland Scotland, including Bernard Mobus' Maud strain, and that is what he's been looking after on Colonsay for 30 years. Your personal view is that mainland Scottish native bees that have been on a Hebridean island for three decades shouldn't be moved back to the mainland yet Cypriot Buckfast are fine for this purpose? How come?!

What characters separate them from any other bee and are these characters special in some way that makes them worth preserving?
Didn't you actually read the article? A reminder:

"They are a genetic resource and that is why they need to be protected. These bees are good in hard weather. They have adapted to their environment here in Scotland. So they are very hardy and they don't mind the rain. I would compare them to Highland cattle. You can shove them out in the winter and they look after themselves pretty well. The black bee is hardy and thrifty."

Perhaps most importantly, these are part of our heritage and deserve protection from exotic imports for that reason alone.

We keep on seeing these statements from AMM enthusiasts which have no scientific basis at all. The disease/pest situation is the same throughout the EU and a risk assessment has been and continues to be made for the importation of bees from other EU countries.
Rubbish! These bees will be free of Nosema ceranae and *are* free of Varroa. They are sought by researchers as examples of bees from before the time of Varroa sweeping through the country, along with the viruses it amplifies or brings into the area.

The case for a reserve on Colonsay is clear.

And as for the confusion over species and other taxa, this was a newspaper journalist writing in a national newspaper. Disappointing, but hardly unusual.

all the best

Gavin
 

tazbee 

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Morning all

With only 100 humans (approx) on the island, he could always provide a nuc from his own stock to any would be beek, thus keeping the strain pure.

Or is this to simple?
 

Finman 

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thus keeping the strain pure.

Or is this to simple?
Do you know, do bees have good genes or bad genes. Resistancy to different diseases?

Isolated populations have often difficulties to manage in big world.

How the stock has developed: to attack on everyone which move near hives, run on frames, swarming, colony size?

If you breed that genepool, and cross them to others, what genes you get or want?
Many have surely tried.

It is not so simple that you pic a "pure" queen and its is ready to domestic stock without selection.

Russian bees ( origin Siberia) have breeded 10 years in USA and it is really difficult and huge work.

.
 

tazbee 

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Hi Finman

This guy has been keeping this type of bee for 30 years, perhaps he has introduced other strains of queens, who knows.

Best wishes

John D
 

Finman 

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Is he only beekeeper on teh Isle and he has those "hoped super bees".

When I think what bees I hade 30 years ago, they were lowsy.
 

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