More than 70% of the island’s bees are of the Black Canarian variety, a study commissioned by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria has revealed. This high degree of purity, recorded by the to the University of Murcia, helps facilitate selection and conservation projects says the Minister of Food Sovereignty, Miguel Hidalgo.
The research concluded that the genetic purity of the Canarian black bee population, which is unique in the world, will aid greater efforts towards conservation, since only 15% of the population belongs to southern mainland varieties and only another 15% presented mixtures of foreign DNA.
The Canarian black bee, indigenous to the archipelago, comes originally from an African sub-lineage distributed along the Atlantic coasts and characterised by lack of agressive behaviours, theiry are excellent for production of honey and possess high levels of adaptation to the climates and the floral varieties of the islands, although previously the genetic purity of the bee population was unknown.
The results of the study were presented to fifty beekeepers on Gran Canaria under a program for genetic conservation and improvement of the black bee, organised by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria after they were declared a protected species by the Canarian Government in 2014. The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria collaborates in the project.
The Cabildo of Gran Canaria, after investigating samples from 53 hives in various parts of the island, selected an area and five beekeepers whose hives have genetically suitable queen bees for breeding this protected species, a group of which will be fertilised by genetically selected drones.
Up to six hives with thousands of worker bees and drones will be moved to this area away from other hives with mixed breeds, so that the selected queen bees can only be fertilised by the chosen drones.
Once the fertilisation phase is completed, the daughters of the selected queen bees will be distributed by the five beekeepers and to the other professionals on the Gran Canaria for the progressive expansion and improvement of the breed.
It will take at least a year to be able to objectively record the results of these actions and also confirm the expected increase in honey production due to the expansion of this type of bee.
At present, more than 11,000 hives are estimated to be operating on Gran Canaria producing an average of 15 kilos of honey per year each, an amount that barely supplies 25% of the demand for the product.
The ‘Abeja negra canaria’ is known for its characteristic dark appearance. It has been present in the Canary Islands for about 200,000 years and has achieved a high level of adaptation to this unique environment which, together with the absence of aggressiveness, has given rise to high levels of productivity throughout a limited territory, such as the islands represent.