Friday, 30 October 2015

Habitat of a Prikamsky Honeybee Population

Open Access

Open Access funded by Far Eastern Federal University
Under a Creative Commons license


This article discusses the features of Apis mellifera mellifera associated with the expansion of their habitat to the north. The A. m. mellifera isolated in Kama Urals is considered the Prikamsky honeybee population and has retained the features of a pure gene pool. Here, we analysed the biological and physiological features of bees native to Kama Urals and the crossbreeding that occurs among these bee species.


  • Honey bees;
  • Areal;
  • Prikamsky population;
  • Crossbreeding


Before the anthropogenic period, a Euro-Siberian sub-species of the honeybee, the Central Russian dark hylile bee (Apis mellifera mellifera L.), spread naturally over a large area from southern France to Siberia, reaching as far north as 60°N latitude ( Ruttner et al, 1990). This area expanded as the species moved north due to complex ethological and physiological adaptations to the cold climate zone ( Eskov, 1995).
The Cis-Ural region is the territory located on the western slope of the Ural Mountains on the outskirts of the East European Plain. The territory lies in the basins of the Kama and Pechora Rivers and includes the Pechora lowlands to the north and the Verkhnekamskaya Bugulma-Belebey upland to the south. In the Cis-Ural region in Kama basin, the Kama Cis-Ural territory predominates. The northern region of the Kama Cis-Ural territory is a typical middle taiga consisting of spruce-fir forests, pine forests and peat bogs. The central region of the territory is southern taiga that includes spruce-fir forests with an admixture of linden. In the southern region of the territory, there is a subzone of mixed forests. The southeast is occupied with Kungursky forest steppe with typical degraded chernozems. Northeast of the Kama Cis-Ural territory is a dark coniferous mountain taiga with bald peaks standing high above the taiga (Grigoriev, 1962).
Central Russian bees (A. m. mellifera) have been historically developed in natural biological communities on the Kama Cis-Ural territory. This finding was recorded by Mikhailov (1927) and Alpatov (1948). According to studies conducted by researchers in the Zoology Department of Perm Pedagogical University, Central Russian bees overwhelmingly dominated the Perm Territory previously. However, from the 1950s onwards, agricultural workers have been importing the queens and bee packages of southern races that were not adapted to the harsh conditions of the north area. The importation of these southern bees with the purpose of increasing productivity resulted if the emergence of hybrids of unknown origin. By the 1980s, cross-breeding of bees had reached 40% in some apiaries causing increased morbidity and the withdrawal of bee colonies in the winter. This process was aggravated by the mite Varroa destructor affect. To a lesser extent, the cross-breeding of bees influenced the Uinsky and Krasnovishersky areas, which had been declared as pure breeding areas of the Central Russian bees. The recruitment of honeybee populations in natural conditions (wild hive, hollows of trees, rocks, and other shelters) is performed because the bees disperse during swarming. In the late 20th century, a negative impact on the gene pool of the Central Russian bees caused by the introduced bees was observed. The conservation of the gene pool of Central Russian bees and the preservation of the indigenous forms of local Central Russian bee populations have been discussed in many publications ( Grankin, 1998 and Kryvtsov, 2008).

Materials and Methods

Studies performed by Perm researchers on bee colonies (1990–2000 Gg.) in the Kama Cis-Ural territory distinguished a population of honey bees of the Central Russian race that had the features of a pure gene pool based on physiological, morphological (Petukhov, 1996 and Shurakov et al., 1999) and genetic (Ilyasov et al, 2006) indicators. These bees are named “Prikamsky” after the territory where they were detected. The Prikamskaya population formed naturally in the northern area and has a particular value today, as it is the natural reserve of the pure gene pool of Central Russian bees. Currently, in the Kama Cis-Ural territory, two groups of native bees of the Central Russian Prikamskaya population have been identified. They are separated from each other by a distance of 300 km. The Uinskaya group exists in the southeast of the Perm region, and the Visherskaya group exists in the north of the Perm region, which is the northern boundary of the honeybee, (Petukhov, 1996 and Ilyasov et al., 2006) (Fig. 1).