8-legged honeybees found in Dublin Mountains

Eight legged honeybee

Apis mellifera octopedis. The fourth leg is just visible on the left.

1st April, Dublin

Reports have reached the Co. Dublin beekeepers’ association that a mutant strain of eight-legged honeybees have been positively identified in feral honeybee colonies in the Dublin Mountains.  The new strain, provisionally named Apis mellifera octopedis is being studied by scientists from Teagasc’s Clonroche bee research centre.  Teagasc head of bee studies Dr. April Phoule explained  ‘this new strain of mutant bees was discovered by chance during surveys to test varroa for pyrethroid resistance.  It is a remarkable discovery’.

CDBKA secretary, Liam McGarry explained ‘this new strain will be of little practical use to beekeepers, as the extra legs are a version of the bee’s middle legs, and not the hind or front legs’.  Researchers have found that the ‘octopedis’ bees have a particular capacity for conveying the distance of nectar sources through the waggle dance.  Commented Dr. Phoule ‘with their extra leg, they are better able to keep time to the dance.  It is rather like watching a bee do the hokey-cokey’.

For a copy of the full Teagasc report on this fascinating new creature, see the following link: http://tinyurl.com/apis-m-octopedis-study.   The Co. Dublin beekeepers’ association hopes to acquire at least one Apis mellifera octopedis queen in order to establish a colony to test for resistance to seasonal humour.  Members are encouraged to check their bee colonies for eight-legged workers and report sightings to the committee.