Black bee re-introduction at the The Kingcombe Centre

Black bees © Ben Marsh

Dorset Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce that it has introduced a colony of black bees at The Kingcombe Centre in west Dorset, to help re-establish their numbers regionally and compliment other projects in the South West*.

Black bees re-introduced to the The Kingcombe Centre

Dorset Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce that it has introduced a colony of black bees at The Kingcombe Centre in west Dorset, to help re-establish their numbers regionally and complement other projects in the South West*.

The bees have been transported from an established colony in North Wales, with the aim of creating a stable population and studying their foraging habits and pollen preferences at Kingcombe’s newly rejuvenated orchard.

The black bees, also known as the dark European honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) is a sub-species of the honey bee which is felt to be our ‘native’ honey bee. 

Whilst it was widely thought that this variety had become extinct a century ago, small, isolated wild living populations have been found in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and more recently further South in Cornwall and Devon.  The bees’ distinctive features make them particularly suitable for Britain; they are well adapted to flying and surviving in cool weather conditions, and potentially have a greater resistance to disease than other strains of honey bees.    

The bees are in a Top Bar Hive in a fenced off area in the Orchard at The Kingcombe Centre. This new addition forms part of a trail around the centre, complete with interpretation which explores the grounds which was funded through the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s 60th Anniversary Fund, designed to improve access and interpretation for visitors to enjoy this very special area.

Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Kingcombe Centre Manager, Steve Marsh, said, “We’re looking forward to seeing how the colony of black bees settle into their new home at Kingcombe, and would like to thank our friends at Castle Cameras who have made this possible through sponsorship, and Jim Binning, a local bee keeper who specialises in sourcing the bees and top bar hives for supporting us throughout this project. We hope to run a series of educational activities at the Kingcombe Centre to highlight the importance of pollinators within the wider ecosystem.”

Find out more about visiting the trails at the Kingcombe Centre at: www.kingcombe.org.

Queen black bee and her workers arrive at Kingcombe  © Ben Marsh

Queen black bee and her workers arrive at Kingcombe  © Ben Marsh