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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Keep pure breeding populations of native honey bee subspecies Bee Conservation

Key messages

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One replicated trial in Switzerland found that pure breeding populations of the European black honey bee Apis mellifera mellifera contained a significant proportion (28%) of hybrids with an introduced subspecies Apis mellifera carnica.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


One replicated trial estimated the degree of hybridisation in six 'pure breeding' populations of the native black honey bee Apis mellifera mellifera, kept by beekeepers in eastern Switzerland (Soland-Reckeweg et al. 2009). The introduced southeastern European subspecies A. m. carnica also thrives in this area. The study, based on nine honey bee genetic markers (microsatellites) and a sample of 100 black honey bee workers (a single worker from each of 100 colonies), found that 28% of the sampled bees were hybrids. In the same area, 17% of workers sampled from pure breeding populations of the introduced subspecies A. m. carnica were also hybrids. These findings suggest that conservation management strategies for the black honey bee need improvement, perhaps by bee breeders using genetic testing rather than conventional appearance to identify hybrids.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Dicks, L.V., Showler, D.A. & Sutherland, W.J. (2010) Bee conservation: evidence for the effects of interventions. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter, UK