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Irish honey bee

Apis mellifera mellifera

Irish honey bee

The dark honey bee used to be found from Ireland in the west to Russia in the east. Ireland has some of the purest dark honey bees left in Europe. Irish bees are well adapted to living in a harsh climate. The breeding season is quite short to fit in with our normal Irish summers. To keep themselves warm, they are bigger and hairier than other European honey bees. They forage further even in dull and drizzly weather. 

Animal class
Invertebrate

Habitat
Ireland

Diet - Nectarivore
Irish honey bees eat nectar and pollen.

Size
Their body length is between 12-16 millimetres.

Location
I am found in a variety of habitats in Ireland and other countries in Europe. 

Conservation status
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) has not yet assessed the Irish honey bee due to data deficiency. 

Threats
Habitat loss due to changing agricultural and gardening practices has resulted in a decline in wild flowers. The use of pesticides is a big problem. Increasingly, fungal and viral infections are a threat. Cross breeding with other honey bee species is also a threat.

Current population
There is insufficient data to assess the population trends of the honey bees. Local studies all suggest declines in Irish honey bee numbers. 

Zoo population
We welcomed the arrival of a colony of 2,000 Irish black honeybees in 2017.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

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