Why native honey bees

The aims of the Scottish Native Honey Bee Society are to promote the conservation, maintenance, breeding and study of the honey bee which is native to Scotland and is endangered by the uncontrolled importation of honey bees unsuited to our Scottish climate. 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.

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.