When talking about bees, many people immediately think of honey and soon they make an association with the honey bee. Honey bees have been kept by beekeepers since centuries and therefore seem automatically native. However, there is only one honey bee native in the Benelux and surroundings. The Dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) is that only native one, but due to human activity during the past 150 years, the populations of the Dark bee have become so scarce that unfortunately this unique insect nowadays is an endangered species.

DarkBee.org is working on the conservation of our endangered native Dark Bee, sometimes also called Mellifera. Therefore she brings beekeepers from different countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany) and with different perspectives (conventional, natural, biodynamic) together who all have a passion for preserving our Dark bee. The conservation of our Dark bee is important not only from the perspective of biodiversity conservation, but also from the perspective of achieving sustainable beekeeping in our region. After all, sustainable beekeeping can only be achieved by working with honey bees which are adapted to local environmental conditions.

DarkBee.org tries to achieve conservation in 2 ways. The first one, conservation through utilization, focuses on carrying out selective breeding for better performance of Dark bee colonies; providing a grafting network to spread larvae from well bred Dark bee colonies and maintaining mating stations to guarantee pure matings of young Dark queen bees. That way DarkBee.org wants to give its members easy access to good genetic stock our native Dark bee. The second way, conservation through rewilding focuses on setting our Dark bee free again. This “wild” gene pool will endure natural selection and will be a back-up in case something goes wrong during the process of selective breeding. All this is done under scientific supervision, scientific insight is the driving force behind our work.

In addition, DarkBee.org also works on the improvement of bee forage resources and organizes yearly some practice-oriented study days. It also offers beekeepers the opportunity to educate themselves at their own pace on topics such as solitary bees, queen rearing, bee diseases, beekeeping all year round, forage resources, etc. Its members have access to an online learning platform (courses, library, webinars) and an online private forum where they can exchange experiences with one another. After all, good beekeeping starts with a solid foundation of knowledge!

Basically, if you want to make a positive difference to nature with your beekeeping and you would like to be part of a dynamic and future-oriented team, DarkBee.org is by far THE organization for you!

If you would have questions, you can always contact us through info@zwartebij.org; information about a membership of DarkBee.org can be found here.

The Black Bee on Cornflower (© Dylan Elen)

A Dark bee foraging on cornflower (© Dylan Elen)