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Killer hybrid bee to help save UK native bees

There are moves afoot to consider crossing honeybees with their more aggressive African cousins to produce a “killer” hybrid which is hardier and more resistent to parasites. Bees have been on the decline for many years in the UK, USA and Europe, Colony Collapse Disorder has left up to a quarter of hives empty in some countries. The main culprit is the mite called Varroa Destructor which leaves bees vulnerable to deformed wing virus.

African bees are much more aggressive and more tolerant of the virus, they are also more prone to swarming than their European cousins. Scientists are considering producing a crossbreed of African and European honeybees which has the hardiness to resist the mite but is still “bee-keeper-friendly”.

Cross breeds in the USA have earned the nickname “killer-bees” because they are more aggressive and therefore more dangerous than their European cousin. However, British wildlife will always remain protected and there is considerably much more work to do before this idea gains definite credibility. To date African bee genes have never been introduced to other populations.

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