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Apis Mellifera Sicula, once at risk of extinction, is now a Slow Food presidium

2021-04-01 23:09

Anna Sipione

Apis Mellifera Sicula, once at risk of extinction, is now a Slow Food presidium

Producer of rare winter honeys, the black bee is Sicilian excellence It is not true that all bees are yellow and black. There are dark, gray or bees

Producer of rare winter honeys, the black bee is Sicilian excellence

It is not true that all bees are yellow and black. There are dark, gray or even very black bees, right in Italy, morphologically similar to African black bees but less aggressive than the latter.

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The history of the Sicilian black bee

Born and developed in Sicily until the 1970s, the Sicilian black bee was then abandoned by local beekeepers who preferred to import ligustic bees (the bee par excellence) from the north, now considered the standard throughout Italy for the production of honey . Because of this, the Apis Mellifera Sicula risked extinction, until Pietro Gendoso, entomologist and professor at the University of Palermo, studied it and transferred the passion for this variety of bees to one of his students, Carlo Amodeo. If today the Sicilian Black Bee is still present on the island, it is due exclusively to the interest of the latter. The same operated by first installing hives only on the island of Ustica, then in Filicudi, Alicudi and Vulcano, so that the insect could maintain genetic purity.

Morphological characteristics

It has smaller wings than other species, it resists extreme temperatures well, a characteristic due to hundreds of years of acclimatization in such a hot and apparently hostile land. Unlike the others, these bees are therefore able to produce honey both in winter (it is famous for the production of rare winter honeys such as those of Carob, Medlar and Almond ), and in summer at more than 40 ° C, the limit temperature for the others. variety. Unlike the common bees we are used to, the Apis Mellifera Sicula is very docile, so much so that beekeepers do not resort to the use of masks in honey extraction operations.

Organoleptic characteristics of honey:

Black bee honey has truly amazing properties. Contains antioxidants in quantities up to ten times higher than normal, 13 antibacterial substances and four antifungals. A real natural regenerating and restorative with healing and therapeutic properties. Furthermore, the great biodiversity of the Sicilian flora allows the foraging and consequent production of more than twenty types of monoflora honey.

Slow Food Presidium

The Presidium was started with Carlo Amodeo in 2008 to call attention and raise an alarm about the risk of extinction of this native breed. In the following years, other beekeepers became interested in this breed and today the Presidium is made up of eight breeders who have recovered the queens of this species, from Carlo Amodeo. A great success was the launch of the "Project for the reintroduction and conservation of the endangered subspecies Apis mellifera sicialiana", which took place in January 2012, thanks to funding from the Sicily Region and followed by the CRA-API of Bologna (the Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture, Beekeeping Research Unit) in collaboration with the Universities of Catania and Palermo, the Zooprophylactic Institute of Sicily, Soat di Collesano, Apicoltura Amodeo and Slow Food.

The project involves the search for new genetic lines, essential to combat the most serious problem of this breed (consanguinity), the establishment of fertilization stations in isolated places on the island, since the costs for conservation on the smaller islands are too much. high and discourage beekeepers and the evaluation of the performance of the black Sicilian in comparison with the ligustica.

It is hoped that this very precious native species will be able to proliferate to repopulate the territory of the southern islands.

Photo by az. Percia Quartari Farm, Sodeste Italy, Claudio Meli

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