Polish Black Bee

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Pszczoła polska czarna

The Central European bee (Apis mellifera mellifera L.), known also as black or dark bee, due to its color, is a subspecies of the Apis mellifera, that once used to be common throughout the European continent, and whose original range extended from central-western Russia through northern Europe and probably up to the Iberian Peninsula.

Since the 19th century, the Central European bee has been becoming increasingly rare both in Poland and other countries, mostly due to the introduction of foreign bees (A. mellifera carnica, A. mellifera caucasica, A. mellifera ligustica), which are considered more productive, and the often recommended crossbreeding with those foreign breeds.

In the various European regions where the Central European bee has been preserved, it has taken on specific characteristics giving life to indigenous populations.

In Poland, there are still two extensive, densely forested areas with populations of these bees, both protected: Kampinos Forest and Augustow Primeval Forest. This is also where beekeepers from other parts of the country can get the Polish dark bees.
In the areas of Poland, which are characterized by cooler climate and harsher winters, these bees are irreplaceable. They withstand both severe frosts and periodic warming. In addition, they fly even in bad weather.

The modern beekeepers consider these bees slow in development of colonies after wintering, aggressive and swarming, especially during the period of lack of benefit. They are also susceptible to diseases like foulbrood or varroosis. However during its evolution, the Central European bee and its various indigenous population pollinated of a very wide range of plant species, and the rapid displacement and extinction of this bee may cause deficiencies in pollination and the extinction of many wild plants.

Some beekeepers claim that these native bees produce surplus honey every year, where other breeds need to be fed with sugar syrup to keep them alive.

There are no particular types of honey produced by Polish dark bees, though they might use a wider spectrum of flowers.

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Nominated by:Mariusz Rybak