Ponente Ligure is a thin strip of territory between the western beaches of the Ligurian Sea and the crests of the Maritime Alps, that mark the border with France and Piedmont, and is characterised by long and narrow valleys, that are often inaccessible and wild. Over the centuries, the inhabitants of these areas have obtained arable land by tearing them from the rocky slopes and excavating terraces which are now typically found in the area called “fasce” or “maixei”. Even today, they paint the scene of a heroic agricultural effort.
In this border area in particular, in the province of Imperia, two subspecies of bees, the blonde (Apis mellifera ligustica), endemic to the Italian peninsula, and the black (Apis mellifera mellifera) which comes from the neighbouring France, meet, hybridising naturally for many millennia, giving life to a Ligurian natives species, commonly called the Ponente Ligure black bee.
The Ponente Ligure black bee is very resistant: it has in fact adapted to the particular microclimate and local flora, managing the resources and flying even during adverse weather conditions. After observing some colonies that are able to survive in tree trunks or in rock crevices, some beekeepers from the inland valleys have decided to bet on this bee and to breed it and attempt to preserve it.
The fact that these bees have been exposed to a totally natural environment for a long period of time, has led to a strict natural selection of the strongest individuals, who today are more resistant to the threats that the world of beekeeping must face, including pathogens, invasive species, pollution and climate change.
Despite the robustness of this pollinator, the consistent introduction of various subspecies which occurred after World War II caused a significant genetic erosion, which is now furthered by the threat of an invasive insect, the Vespa velutina or Asian hornet, which feeds their own larvae by chasing bees that are in flight. The great voracity and the strong ability to colonise entire areas, and the fact that they tend to build nests in hard to reach places, makes the Asian hornet a real nightmare for bees and beekeepers.
The beekeepers and companies that preserve the Ponente Ligure black bees are rather small in size: they obtain honey by breeding the bees – mainly millefiori from Mediterranean scrub, heather, chestnut, propolis and pollen. The beekeepers who manage the hives leave the bee families a quantity of honey that is sufficient for them to face the winter period.
The honey is harvested from the month of April until September and is available all year round
The Presidium was created to support the efforts of these beekeepers who preserve the black bee and bring to attention the importance of protecting the local ecotypes that are still present in the area, for their ability to evolve and adapt to the characteristics of the environment. One of the objectives of the beekeeping community, is to create an educational apiary where educational and social inclusion activities can be carried out.
Saloni Davines thanks to the Bee Strong campaign
Agriturismo Ca’ De Na
di Dario Pastor
Tel. +39 388 4234478
Le Api di Airole
di Fabrizio Zagni
Via Repubblica, 1
Tel. +39 347 7231369
Il Cappero Viola
di Davide Maggio
Pian del Soglio
Tel. +39 348 8637262