Standard methods for characterising subspecies and ecotypes of Apis mellifera
Marina D Meixner, Maria Alice Pinto, Maria Bouga, Per Kryger, Evgeniya Ivanova and Stefan Fuchs
The natural diversity of honey bees in Europe is eroding fast. A multitude of reasons lead to a loss of both genetic diversity and specific adaptations to local conditions. To preserve locally adapted bees through breeding efforts and to maintain regional strains in conservation areas, these valuable populations need to be identified. In this paper, we give an overview of methods that are currently available and used for recognition of honey bee subspecies and ecotypes, or that can be utilised to verify the genetic origin of colonies for breeding purposes. Beyond summarising details of morphometric, allozyme and DNA methods currently in use, we report recommendations with regard to strategies for sampling, and suggest methods for statistical data analysis. In particular, we emphasise the importance of reference data and consistency of methods between laboratories to yield comparable results.