Next Conference

Please see the Future Conferences page for details of the next SICAMM Conference.


Aimo Nurminen

From the President:,


Many of you have written heart-warming words in response to the sad news that Aimo Nurminen, our host during the SICAMM 2018 conference in Mustiala, Finland passed away on December 31. These words of sympathy will bring relief and support to his family and especially his wife Raija. 


I remember the warm welcome of Aimo and his wife when we, participants at the SICAMM conference, visited Pakinainen island and the breeding station where Aimo and his beekeeper colleagues had managed the pure breeding operation of the dark bee since the year 2000.  I am sure that not only his colleagues in the Finnish Association of Dark Bee Keepers will miss his enthusiasm and impressive craftmanship, but also his friends in SICAMM.


I took the photo below showing Aimo as a beekeeper in excellent form when we visited the Kultaranta Garden in Naantali.


In the name of all his SICAMM friends I send our condolences to Raija and family.


Marleen Boerjan, President of SICAMM

Wageningen, The Netherlands

January 5th, 2019



Photo: Marleen Boerjan


From Lassi Kauko:

Aimo Nurminen died in an accident on 31.12.2018 at the age of 74 years.


He was the key person in the Finnish work with dark bees.  He started his work when the number of Finnish dark bees was very small.  Over the years he was able to expand the population and was eventually producing 150-200 queens a year.  The queens were mated on the island that many of participants of the 2018 SICAMM Conference visited.  His success in getting desired matings was better than almost all breeders of any type of bee present in Finland.  Practically every beekeeper with dark bees has queens produced by Aimo.  There was even demand for those queens in for example Germany, and Aimo was planning to concentrate in the future on producing only for breeders and for export.  Evaluation of the bees was planned to be big part of his future work.


As well as breeding and evaluating the bees he had other activities related to dark bees: his bees were located in many places such as the summer residence of the President of Finland.  Other locations were in the city of Turku and shopping centres.  During annual fairs he was displaying dark bees in observation hives. Connections to the ice hockey team TPS and the group protecting the Baltic sea were part of his PR activity.


Besides bees, Aimo was interested in honey, and with his wife Raija he developed a brand of Dark Bee Honey with black labels.  They were also developing other products such as honey with lemon or sea buckthorn.  The honey for the ice hockey team had its own label too. Aimo’s role in breeding and conserving dark bees was very important, but because of his many activities he was respected in the whole beekeeping community.


Lassi Kauko






Photos: Lassi Kauko


SICAMM Conference 2020

See the ‘Future Conferences’ page for news of the 2020 SICAMM Conference.

Dark Bee organisation in the Netherlands

For a link to a new Dutch organisation in support of the Dark Bee – t Landras – please see the “member organisations and links” page.

New Dark Bee organisation in Denmark

For a link to a new Danish organisation in support of the Dark Bee – Foreningen for brune bier i Danmark – please see the “member organisations and links” page.

New Dark Bee organisation in France

For a link to a new French organisation in support of the Dark Bee – the Fédération Européenne Des Conservatoires de l’Abeille Noire – please see the “member organisations and links” page.


Black Honey Bee Days in France

For the programme (in English) of a conference held by the Conservatoire de l’Abeille Noire d’Île de France and the Fédération Européenne Des Conservatoires de l’Abeille Noire, 5th-6th November 2016 please click here.

Next Conference

Please see the “Future Conferences” page for news of the next Conference in Finland.

Ruttneri conservation project

Please see the “Member organisations and links” page under “Malta” for news of a project for the conservation of Apis mellifera ruttneri.


New Irish website link

Please see the “Member organisations and links” page for a new site in the Irish Republic.


New Dark Bee Group in Belgium

In February 2015 a new group, “Limburgse Zwarte Bij vzw” was formed in North-east Belgium and is trying to establish a second population of A.m.m. in the country. See “Member organisations and Links” page.


“SmartBees” project

SmartBees is a collaborative research project between 16 partners from universities, research institutions and companies across Europe.

It is working on solutions to prevent colony losses caused by the Varroa mite and viruses and to counteract the systematic replacement of many native European bees with only two specific races which is observed over the last years.

Please see the website <>.

Mellifera beekeepers are urged to complete the survey at <>

2012 Conference proceedings

February 2014.  The Proceedings of the 2012 Conference in Switzerland may be downloaded via the “Past Conferences” – “2012” pages.

Josef Stark Award

This award was presented to Dr. Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda at the Swiss conference.

New links

June 2012. See “Member organisations and Links” page for new websites in the Czech Republic and Germany.


New links

March 2010.  Please see “Member organisations and Links” page for new links from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Poland.

Please see the website “Die Dunkle Biene” for a list of people and organisations who may be able to supply dark bees in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.  visit web page


New Secretary general

After 14 years as our first secretary Nils Drivdal decided to leave the position.  At the meeting in Aviemore a new secretary was elected.

Philip Denwood is the new Secretary general for SICAMM.  Philip has been active within Sicamm for 9 years and has been a beekeeper for 37 years. He lives in Hertfordshire, England.

Dorian Pritchard handed a gift to Nils as a token for the appreciation of his efforts for saving the mellifera bee during these 14 years.


Text and photos by Per Thunman, Sweden.


Aviemore Conference

The 9th International SICAMM Conference was successfully held at Aviemore from 6th-11th September 2009. Participants came from England, Finland, Germany, the Irish Republic, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales. For further details see under “Past Conferences”.

Dark bees discovered in the Netherlands

A colony of dark bees has been discovered in a poplar wood in sand dunes near Amsterdam, where  wild colonies have been known for many decades.  Wing venation tests by Dr.Fuchs of Oberursel, Germany, now show that the great majority of workers from the colony are relatively pure Apis mellifera mellifera,  long considered to be extinct in the Netherlands.

Source: Mellifica, August 2009 (Association Mellifica, Belgium), translated from Natuuronderzoek, Newsletter of the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, 2005.

New links

Please check the “Member organisations and links” page for new links to sites in France (L’arbre aux abeilles; Terre d’abeilles) and the UK (Black bees in Pendle); also the relaunched site for in Switzerland.

Josef Stark Award

The Josef Stark Award for 2009 is given to Alejandra Vásquez, PhD, and for 2010 to Tobias Olofsson, PhD, both researchers at the Microbiology Laboratory, University of Lund, Sweden.


New website

SICAMM is very grateful to Bosse Malmgren for designing our website and running it for several years, alongside his site with photos of bees, flowers, Swedish national dress and other subjects (

The webmaster is Philip Denwood.  Please send us all comments on the new design using the contact page.


German mellifera beekeeper honoured

  Amateur bio-beekeeper Wolfgang Strube of Kroppenstedt was awarded first prize of 1500 euros in the biennial awards for animal welfare, State of Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany by Agriculture Secretary Dr. Herrmann Onko Aeikens in Magdeburg on 4th Oct 2008. On this occasion the awards focussed on the protection of endangered livestock.

  Wolfgang Strube has devoted himself for many years to the dark honeybee, a robust but endangered race.  He keeps fourteen colonies including eight of the dark bee and follows the EU guidelines for biological beekeeping.  Racial purity of introduced queens is certified, and the bees live in a natural habitat near the Hakelwald and Heteborn.  Colony health is maintained by observation of flight entrances and floorboard debris, qualitatively and quantitatively suitable feeding, overwintering on honey, participation in the preventative monitoring system of the State Beekeeping Institute, and varroa control using formic and oxalic acids.  Queens are not clipped and migratory beekeeping is not practised.

Wolfgang Strube is active as a Bee Expert (BSS), association president and lecturer.

In presenting the award, Dr. Aeikens remarked that the winners testify that the keeping of endangered livestock is both race-preservation and at the same time animal welfare.

Source:  Ministerium für Landwirtschaft und Umwelt – Pressemitteilung Nr.: 121/08

Magdeburg, den 2. Oktober 2008

New dark bee conservation area in Brittany, France

  Grâce à la mobilisation des apiculteurs locaux, l’abeille noire a pu être préservée sur l’île. Les professionnels se sont regroupés il y a quelques mois, en créant l’Asan-GX, Association pour la sauvegarde de l’abeille noire sur l’Île de Groix. Leur travail a été présenté au forum des associations de Port-Lay. Le but : la création d’un conservatoire identique à ceux d’Ouessant et de Belle-Île.

 Le rôle de l’association dans ce futur projet sera d’animer ce conservatoire, par la création d’un rucher éducatif et pédagogique.

  La municipalité, de son côté, par un arrêté municipal validé par la préfecture, s’engage à protéger l’abeille noire de l’île. Des mesures phytosanitaires ont été prises et les importations d’abeilles sur l’île, autres que l’abeille noire, sont désormais interdites.

  L’Asan-GX souhaite également apporter son aide à toute personne désireuse de maintenir ses colonies en état sanitaire correct (contact : Christian Bargain au 02 97 86 58 07). Les responsables de l’association rappellent par ailleurs que « la déclaration de rucher, qu’il s’agisse d’une ou de plusieurs ruches, est obligatoire et gratuite, auprès de la DSV, Direction des services sanitaires ».

Pratique. Contact : 6, avenue Edgar-Degas, 56 000, Vannes. Tél. 02 97 63 29 45.

6 Oct 2008

Thanks to the mobilisation of local beekeepers, it has become possible to preserve the dark bee on the island of Île de Groix. The bee farmers joined together some months ago to create l’Asan-GX, the association for the preservation of the dark bee on the island. Their work has been presented to the forum of associations of Port-Lay. The aim: to create a conservation area identical to those on Ouessant and Belle-Île.

The role of the association in this future project will be to take the lead in this conservation area by setting up an educational and teaching apiary.

The municipality has for its part undertaken to protect the dark bee of the island by a municipal order validated by the prefecture. Phytosanitary measures have been adopted and the importation of bees other than the dark bee onto the island is henceforth forbidden.

The Asan-GX association would also like to extend its assistance to anyone wishing to maintain their colonies in a good state of health. The office-holders have also issued the reminder that “registration of apiaries, whether of one or more hives, is compulsory and free of charge, following the DSV, Direction des services sanitaires.”

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