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Kangaroo Island

Sanctuary for Italian (Ligurian) Bees

"In the early 1880s August Fiebig brought 12 hives from the Italian province of Liguria, and established an apiary near Penneshaw. Since then, no other breeds of bee have been introduced to Kangaroo Island. Because of the Island's isolation, all present-day honeybees are descendants of those 12 hives. These bees are pure Ligurian and, as such, are unique in the world.

Ligurian bees are renowned for their gentle nature and productivity. These characteristics, and the purity of the strain, make them a valuable genetic pool for breeding purposes. Mated queen bees are regularly exported interstate and overseas. In recognition of the bee sanctuary status legislation was introduced in 1931 prohibiting the importation of bees and second-hand bee-keeping equipment to the Island. Since then, the identification of Foul Brood Disease in mainland hives has necessitated the banning of all bee products to the Island, to ensure that the Ligurian bee remains disease free."

The above has been copied from the Kangaroo Island Visitor Information Centre website. R.P.

If you read the various articles there are a few contradictions and I have seen a reference to the possibility the bees originally came from the South of France. Another account gives the date of the creating of sanctuary status as 1865. It also seems that 12 colonies is the maximum number that were imported and the real number could have been considerably less.

If it is correct that all the colonies originated from a maximum of 12 colonies, it suggests the fears about inbreeding so often mentioned by beekeepers as reasons for maintaining importations into the U.K. are the nonsense many of us consider them to be, especially as there is a healthy beekeeping industry with several thousand colonies.

Click the buttons on the top left for further information on the bees of Kangaroo Island.

R.P.