The Bee Keeping [Colonsay and Oronsay] Order 2013 will see the Argyll island of Colonsay, with its satellite island of Oronsay, become a safe haven for the black bee, Apis Mellifera Mellilfera from January 2014 onwards.
The species has been threatened by crossbreeding and weakened by the ‘Isle of Wight’ disease. This protective order – which makes it illegal to keep any other sort of bee there – and the island is the farthest out of the chain with Islay and Jura to which it belongs – will see to its survival and recovery.
Colonsay and Oronsay have form in this measure. Way back in 1941, they became a pilot breeding station for the black bee. And 35 years ago, island bee-keeper, Andrew Abrahams, the dominant figure in the achievement of nature reserve status, established black bee apiaries there.
Now this protective order, giving special status to the islands, will also give their honey a unique selling point through the genetic purity of their bee stock . It will further support the local economy in additionally attracting bee-keepers from across the world; and acting as a beacon station for the hardy black bee.