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British Black Bee project
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biobee
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Joined: 14 Jun 2007
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Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:25 am    Post subject: British Black Bee project Reply with quote

It has long been my ambition to help reinstate our native honeybee to her rightful inheritance, so I am launching a Crowdfunder to help make this possible.

The intro is here - www.biobees.com/blackbees

and the Crowdfunder is here (when launched)

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/devon-british-black-bee-project/

I would love to have support from all of you here to get this project off the ground.
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Tavascarow
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have bookmarked & will be supporting in the near future.
I'd like to be more involved in the breeding programme to.
Have you thought about establishing in this area to bridge between the West Cornwall & Devon breeding programs as well?
Very Happy
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Jon
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where are you going to get the queens from?
Is Bibba or NIHBS involved?
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tavascarow wrote:
I have bookmarked & will be supporting in the near future.
I'd like to be more involved in the breeding programme to.
Have you thought about establishing in this area to bridge between the West Cornwall & Devon breeding programs as well?
Very Happy


Thanks, Steve!

There is an active breeding group now, based around the Liskeard area, it seems. I was down there at a meeting a couple of weeks ago. A guy called Nick Bentham Green is organizing them - put the parts of his name together (without caps) and add @hotmail.com and you can email him...

I am trying to build bridges, but you know what these Cornish are like Smile
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon wrote:
Where are you going to get the queens from?
Is Bibba or NIHBS involved?


I want to get queens from several sources, so far I have 5 locations lined up.

The colonies in the video are from Cornwall, just a few miles west.

No national organizations are involved, but they may be later.
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Jon
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You sure about the Isle of Man bees?
I may be wrong but some of the Bibba guys were over there in about 2010 and were not overly impressed as far as I remember. There was a write up in the Bibba magazine at the time.
They are varroa free but are not necessarily with pure stock.
Andrew Abraham's bees on Colonsay have been DNA tested as part of various projects and are probably as good as you can get in terms of pure Amm.
Best British Isles sources are probably parts of Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Bear in mind that any stock from a varroa free area will be very poorly adapted to coexistence with mites.
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Tavascarow
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
Tavascarow wrote:
I have bookmarked & will be supporting in the near future.
I'd like to be more involved in the breeding programme to.
Have you thought about establishing in this area to bridge between the West Cornwall & Devon breeding programs as well?
Very Happy


Thanks, Steve!

There is an active breeding group now, based around the Liskeard area, it seems. I was down there at a meeting a couple of weeks ago. A guy called Nick Bentham Green is organizing them - put the parts of his name together (without caps) and add @hotmail.com and you can email him...

I am trying to build bridges, but you know what these Cornish are like Smile
Excellent, thanks I will get in tough with him. Very Happy
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AugustC
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Best of luck in your endeavours, let me know if you need any pilot apiaries in north yorkshire Smile
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zaunreiter
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just for your information: some Germans opened an island mating station in the North Sea just for Black bees. See a report in German:
http://www.dittmer.mobi/6/index.php/presse.html?file=files/denibbe/Bienen/Dunkle%20Biene%20Nordstrandischmoor.pdf

It is the island "Nordstrandischmoor".

https://goo.gl/maps/zw3e8

The mating station has been DNA-tested for mating safety and it proofed to be safe from intermixing with other bee races, so it is a pure black bee mating station. It is the very first official mating station for black bees. Official means, it is protected by the state law.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AugustC wrote:
Best of luck in your endeavours, let me know if you need any pilot apiaries in north yorkshire Smile


In time, we will. I was contacted yesterday by a beekeeper near Skipton, and there is a black bee project at Burnley, so they are getting closer to you!
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bernhard - there is a lot going on for a small island! Are those oyster beds, or salt pans off the eastern side?
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prakel
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, what method{s} do you plan to use to produce the queens in quantity?
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biobee
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will be using the Nicot system, which is similar to the Jenter, but has some useful advantages, such as being able to introduce a new queen at the same time at taking some of her eggs to make new queens.
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prakel
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mating hives: will you be using mini nucs or full comb nucs? Apologies for the questions but this is the stuff that I find interesting.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will be using some mini nucs, as they are economical on bees, but as we grow, we will use more 5-bar nuc boxes for mating, as they have a much greater capacity and can be maintained over winter if required.

I will be shooting video of all processes we use, to build up a reference for people wanting to do similar things.
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Beeblebrox
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Joined: 25 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:46 pm    Post subject: Re: British Black Bee project Reply with quote

This is very exciting.

I am worried about 2 things -

1. Will these bees be wiped out by acarine mite (Isle of Wight disease)? As I understand it, this tiny mite lurks in the bees' tracheal breathing tubes. It almost wiped out all British bees in the 1920's until strains were introduced which had smaller tracheal tubes it could not physically get into. Surely reintroduced black bees will die out again for the same reason, unless these ones have immunity, but I think the black bees that survived did so because they were isolated, not immune...?

2. Ditto varroa... but as these are descended from wild stock they may have retained hygienic behaviour.

I guess the only way to find out is by trying it and seeing if they thrive. I hope they do.

I use mongrel ferals, myself. It would be nice if they had lots of the original genes in their mix, we have a very inconstant climate in the UK. I think this project could reintroduce valuable lost genes, but I don't see that you will create large areas of pure black bees.
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Jon
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beeblebrox.
Black bees were not 'wiped out'
That is propaganda which put about by commercial beekeepers such as Manley who had a vested interest in importing and using other strains. Brother Adam also liked to spread that story but he had his own vested interests.

Better inform the Native Irish Honeybee Society that the black bees are wiped out!

http://nihbs.org/

Double apideas can overwinter fine if the weather is not too severe.
I have 12/12 still going strong.

This is from 7th Feb this year.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq27Kt9H6Ng
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Beeblebrox
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's good to know Cool
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Jon
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a Phd student at Nuig (Galway) university looking for hygienic traits in our native bee stock.
NIHBS is partly sponsoring his work.
There is another project at LIT (Limerick) which is taking samples from all over the island of Ireland as part of a genetic survey.
I gave him a dozen samples from some of my colonies last November and I am hoping to get some feedback shortly.
He is looking at mitochondrial DNA and a number of microsatellite markers associated with Amm.
One of the challenges with native bee projects is starting off with the best stock possible.
Wing morphometry is widely used but is a complete busted flush as it can only flag up difference between pure subspecies as opposed to hybridised populations.
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon wrote:
Beeblebrox.
Black bees were not 'wiped out'
...propaganda... Manley ...Brother Adam


Yeah, not wiped out completely, but very heavy losses must have been happened, since I see reports from Netherlands and France sending massive numbers of bee hives to England to replace losses.

The importing of bees is going on since 1860 at least. The Romans brought their bees, too. That was some thousand years ago.

And while looking into history: after the ice age our bees came North from South, too. So the migration of Southern bees into the North was happening all the time.

Very few true black bees are left.
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greengage
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,
Is this bee the same as the native Irish bee that I hear people talking about.
http://www.irishdarknativehoneybees.com/why-the-native-bee.html
As we are hoping to get some in the near future, Iam due to visit some hives with this bee tomorrow ard will know more, so ill post another question.
A second question what was the music on the video.
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Jon
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. Amm had a historic range from Ireland in the west to the Urals in the East.
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BBC
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zaunreiter wrote:
Very few true black bees are left.


What do you mean by "true black bees" ?

Do you mean those bees that were around at the time of Neanderthal man - or those black bees that existed the length and breadth of this country during Tudor times ? Or perhaps you mean those black bees that were decimated around the 1920's, no doubt as the result of foreign imports, the solutions following that disaster being either to import even more of the same, or alternatively, to tie beekeepers to a hybrid bee being marketed by an enterprising religious order.

I don't much favour the pursuit of racial purity towards some mythical Absolute organism which, as well as being constrained to being a product of it's time, would also be impossible to identify as such. For you can no more identify a 'pure' Black Bee - short of samples encased in amber (and what would be the point of that, anyway - other than for historical interest ?) - than you can identify a pure Italian or pure Carniolan, for all will have been subjected to tiny changes within their genetics over the centuries.

Jon is absolutely right - we can only ever start with what we judge to be the best available stock, and then work from there ...
I would hope that once enough native queens become available, especially early enough in the season (something I'm currently working towards, myself), then the attractiveness of cheap imports will (hopefully) gradually decrease.


As there can never be any one Absolute genetic blueprint to aim for, an easy alternative would be to adopt the defeatist attitude: "Well, let's not bother ... the damage is already done, so let's just roll-over and accept it ". Perhaps that's what you're suggesting ?

But throughout mainland Britain and Ireland, AMM genetics are still out there - for no matter what breed of queen one might start-off with, if a colony is left to it's own devices, it will eventually turn black and will begin to show early signs of AMM traits. This must surely be an indication that the native Black Bee is truly 'at home' in these islands and is successfully surviving 'in the background' despite a constant year-on-year influx of imported foreign bees. All that is required is that we give our native Black Bee a helping hand for a short while in order for it to become the dominant bee in our apiaries once again.

Colin
BBC
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biobee
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBC wrote:


But throughout mainland Britain and Ireland, AMM genetics are still out there - for no matter what breed of queen one might start-off with, if a colony is left to it's own devices, it will eventually turn black and will begin to show early signs of AMM traits. This must surely be an indication that the native Black Bee is truly 'at home' in these islands and is successfully surviving 'in the background' despite a constant year-on-year influx of imported foreign bees. All that is required is that we give our native Black Bee a helping hand for a short while in order for it to become the dominant bee in our apiaries once again.

Colin
BBC


And that neatly summarizes what we hope to achieve, in the fullness of time...
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LoCo
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok so i have a question, ive never had the chance to breed queens so how many at a low estimate would you say you will get in the first year? and if say a year or two down the line queens become available for us mere mortals Embarassed would i have to buy enough queens to introduce into all my hives or just one, and if it is just one would that not run the risk of my other mongrel hives genes mixing? Or other beeks hives mixing? if i buy for all my colonies?
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a thought: is the island, the landscape on it, the same as it was, when the Black bee developed? The climate, the forage?

Always remember: no living thing is an island. Everything is connected to the landscape, it is living within. So you need to integrate the Black bee into a web of life. Maybe a different one than it has been before.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not going to make any predictions about numbers at this stage - much too early! But I will keep you informed of progress.

Our tentative plan is to obtain breeding queens from several locations with proven Amm history, and to do controlled crosses with our local (East Cornwall) black drones, to see if we can produce something with all the qualities we are looking for. Tentative, because I am not totally convinced that this is the way to go, compared with (for example) just multiplying the Cornish stocks we have already, possibly using drones from other local(ish) lines.

Suggestions welcome.
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BBC
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zaunreiter wrote:
Just a thought: is the island, the landscape on it, the same as it was, when the Black bee developed? The climate, the forage?

Always remember: no living thing is an island. Everything is connected to the landscape, it is living within. So you need to integrate the Black bee into a web of life. Maybe a different one than it has been before.


I agree, Bernhard - the Black Bee of today can't possibly be exactly the same Black Bee as existed (say) a million years ago, for as you say the whole web of life has shifted during that time. But I'd suggest that it can't have changed so very much, for Apis Mellifera in general appears to have stabilised it's evolutionary form - at least judging by the few fossil records which exist.

As to why the Black Bee is more 'at home' here than it's Mediterranean cousins ? My money would be on our erratic weather, which is famous for it's dramatic changes from day to day: one day blisteringly hot, the next icy cold, another with a monsoon downpour, and yet others with heavy fog or gale force winds - and it's not unknown to experience all of these within the same week - and which provides a never-ending source of conversation for the inhabitants of these islands.

My guess - and it's only a guess - is that the Black Bee has evolved to take advantage of short, barely acceptable weather windows in order to mate, which drones from warmer and more stable climates find unfavourable. If it's not that, then I'd say it is something very similar. But I don't have any persuasive answers - I just know that the Black Bee has refused to die out completely, despite the best efforts of queen importers and their customers.

Colin
BBC
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know a many bee-racists here in Germany. They are pretty extreme when it comes to "pureness" of a bee bloodline, be it Carnica or Black bee.

Nature of course produces species by isolation. But nature also allows mixing of species, especially when it comes to adaption. Genetic variability is key for adaption! Adaption is key for survival in those days of climate change, fast changing landscapes,...

For this it is necessary to isolate your stock, but also to allow mixing in foreign genes. So whatever you do to the British Black bee - don't let it get inbred. Bee stock will become weaker and weaker if you are too keen on pureness.

That is my only word of caution.

Concerning your local weather and forage: bees are mostly Apis mellifera. And Apis mellifera are all able to adapt to local conditions pretty quickly. I read a good study, where they brought in foreign Apis mellifera strains and compared them to local stock. First year the local stock performed best. Next year all species were leveled. It takes about a season for foreign bees to sort out weather, forage and other local conditions. Of course they have to adapt and the do adapt. The Apis mellifera as a species is very well able to adapt to a many situations.

But not inbreeding. Wink

Jokingly: Black bees were not wiped out by other importing other bees, but the bee racists will finish them with their ideology.

I personally find the breeding methods by Brother Adam very close to what nature does (just with tools of mankind), and see no reason why you can't breed black bees with those methods. I think that'll be most successful.

Also you first should define in great detail, how that bee should be like and how you want to keep them. Other than being of dark colour. Wink
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andy pearce
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bernhard raises a good point about bee racists. If you read the old black bee literature it make one cringe with embarrassment...with much culturally loaded narrative which is very unhelpful in a conservation project. This has to be utterly resisted and I am sure will be.

Isle of Wight disease....did it correlate with the adoption of large cell brood foundation....bigger bees bigger trachea...

When I have done wing morphology on my bees the results are interesting. A good result seems to be about 80% Amm. In every sample I have done there are Am ligustica wing samples. I live in a ligustica area and have not had the time to persist with re queening although two queenless colonies got AMM queens this year. Here I am fighting a loosing battle with importers.

It is a very interesting subject.
A
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