The Scottish Native Honey Bee Society (SNHBS) is a charity which is registered in Scotland with OSCR.  Our aims are :

  • To encourage beekeeping using Scottish native honey bees and promote their reinstatement within Scotland
  • To share skills in assessment, breeding and propagation of native and local honey bees
  • To promote the qualities of native honey bees to beekeepers
  • To promote the conservation of native honey bees to the public and work towards positive actions for conservation
  • To encourage scientific research that clarifies the conservation, improvement and health of native honey bees.

Why native bees?

We believe that by natural selection the honey bee native to Scotland has evolved to cope with wet and often harsh winters, poor springs and unsettled summer weather typical of the western Atlantic seaboard. Importations of honey bees are frequently of unsuitable types more used to other climes and often are incompatible when the inevitable cross-matings occur, which can lead to a deterioration in the behaviour of locally-sourced bees.  We therefore support the breeding of local stocks and, very gradually as stock of our native bee becomes available, will encourage their reintroduction.

In Scotland we still have an extensive genetic base of native or near-native bees which will allow us to maintain and develop their diversity. This has been shown in a survey using morphometric wing analysis over 20 years ago by John and Morna Stoakley. They found that a third of the sample had dark native honey bee characteristics, a third had near-native characteristics and the remainder were clearly hybridised. A further survey carried out more recently confirmed that despite the recent heavy importations of non-native honey bees the findings were similar. The recognition of the importance of this national resource came with the creation of a Black Bee Reserve on the island of Colonsay on 1st January 2014.