Sunday 16 August 2015

Saving native Scottish black bees : SAMMBA

There are some distinct advantages to remoteness, especially if you want to breed bees that are true to type. Here at the west end of the peninsula there are very few bee keepers and few colonies of bees so we are using this comparative advantage to reproduce native Scottish black bees. The native bees like the native humans are small, dark and seriously tough; they fly in bad weather, survive on meagre rations, work hard and are very polite. This is why we are trying to reproduce and multiply them, bee keepers want them for obvious reasons and we want to preserve them for their own sake.

Black bees are native to Britain and Northern Europe, since the last ice age they have become adapted to the the environment but this wasn't good enough for Victorian and Edwardian bee keepers, they wanted more honey so they imported bees from Italy, bees that like hot sunny windless days when they do produce a great deal of honey but they are rather bad tempered and we don't get many hot, windless, sunny days here in the NW Highlands or any where else in Scotland for that matter.

 The aim of the project is to breed Queens that are as true to the native type as possible and to use these to change and confirm the nature of more mongrel / hybrid colonies of non-natives by breeding Queens reproducing them and then re-queening the hives of local bee keepers.

Today we had an open day at Glenborrowdale Castle gardens to explain the project and how bee breeding is  done. There is another open day next Sunday 24th, another opportunity for those who couldn't get there today.

I'll leave you to work out what SAMMBA stands for, no prize, answer below.

Sunart, Ardnamurchan, Moidart and Morven Bee-keepers Association.

No comments: