Distribution of Apis mellifera subspecies

From Simon's beekeeping blog. Comments are welcome via email.


I was up late chatting to n2o, a new visitor to the IRC channel ##lhs-beekeepers. They are from Bavaria and, while we were chatting, asked 'What kind of bees do you have over there?'. I was a bit confused by the question until I recalled from my training sessions at Walworth that there are many subspecies of the European honey bee, and Apis mellifera mellifera (the European dark bee) — the bees we keep — are by no means the only ones.

Reading around the topic, I found this very nice map, showing the distribution of nineteen subspecies over the European continent. It was contributed by Karl Udo Gerth to Wikipedia and appears in the German Wikipedia article 'Rassen der Westlichen Honigbiene' ('Breeds of the western honey bee').

Incidentally, the German word for 'beekeeper' is the pleasingly-short Imker, with the verb imkern meaning 'to keep bees'.