Native Irish Honey Bee - Donagh Bees

Native Irish Honey Bee

The Native Irish Honey Bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) is a strain of the Dark European Honey Bee which was once widespread across Northern Europe. Tragically they are now scarce in most areas due to cross-breeding with other strains of the honey bee and diseases from imported bees. It is the only honey bee strain native to Ireland.

Dark in colour and resilient to our unpredictable weather our sturdy little native bee has many attributes that specifically aid it in prospering here including an ability to tolerate long periods of confinement to the hive in winter and an ability to fly at low temperatures and in drizzle or light rain. Clearly, our native bee is admirably adapted to life in Ireland!

We are extremely fortunate that a strong and genetically diverse population of our native bee still exists in Ireland, but it needs protection if it is to continue to survive and thrive.

What are the greatest obstacles to the introduction and conservation of native Irish honey bees?
The single biggest threat to our native Irish honey bee is the importation of non-native honey bees into Ireland.

Imported bees bring the risk of cross-breeding which harms biodiversity and the ecosystem arising from the introgression/crossing/cross-breeding of the native Irish honey bee.

In addition, the importation of honey bees has in previous times brought deadly diseases and pests, such as the varroa mite, which have devastated our native honey bees and can have a detrimental effect on other bee species also.
Back to blog