Native Honey Bees back at Abberton Reservoir

Tuesday 22nd August 2017

Once believed to be extinct in Britain, the Black honey bee has been re-introduced to Abberton Reservoir to help boost numbers.

Abberton Reservoir is now home to three hives with black honey bee queens, with the aim of establishing more colonies in the surrounding areas and helping this native species to thrive again.

The Black honey bee, or European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) is native to the UK and ideally suited to our climate. It was thought to have been wiped out in the early 1900s but since then it was re-discovered in small pockets of the UK. 

Abberton Reservoir was chosen because the site is far away from other hives, to prevent inter-breeding of the species. The reserve is also covered in wildflowers, meaning it provides ample opportunity and habitat for the black bees to forage and collect pollen.

Thousands of honey bees are imported every year, and with them they bring pests and diseases. Local beekeepers will be encouraged to use British black honey bees to improve their traits, meaning they will be able to rely less on importing non-native bees. The re-introduction of these bees will hopefully bring benefits for the local wildlife and local agriculture.

The project is a partnership between Essex Wildlife Trust, Essex and Suffolk Water and the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association (BIBBA).