The Italian National Beekeeping Registry (BDNA) as a Tool to Identify Areas Suitable for Controlled Mating of Honey Bees in Italy
Honey bee mating is difficult to control as it occurs in flight, several kilometers away from the hive of origin of both queens and drones. In recent years, there has been an increase in the introduction into Italy of queen bees and swarms originating from interracial crossings (especially those known as "Buckfast"), or belonging to non-native subspecies. Consequently, there is a strong need to establish areas suitable for controlled mating. The Italian national beekeeping registry (BDNA) has
... en recently set up to monitor the position of apiaries and movement of hives, with the purpose of economic and sanitary protection and improvement of bee heritage and food safety. The BDNA was, thus, deemed a suitable tool to explore the availability of areas that could be used as mating stations. Specific criteria, such as not be classified as wetlands, altitude below 1500 m a.s.l., distance of at least 6000 m from an apiary, and distance of at least 1500 m from the national terrestrial border, were selected for defining the mating stations. Furthermore, all the remaining Italian national territory was considered suitable for settlement of mating stations, including towns, industrial settlements, and roads. Based on these criteria, the following methodological framework was applied: (1) collection of the required data (i.e., apiaries coordinates, geospatial data on soil classification, geospatial data on terrain altitude, Italian boundary geospatial data); (2) calculation for the excluded areas according with the criteria listed above; (3) calculation of the mating areas by means of the difference between the entire Italian territory and the excluded areas. The database of BDNA was used to identify them. Appropriate databases and software were used to exclude the areas of the Italian national territory that did not fulfill the established criteria. In this paper, we report the procedure applied to identify on maps the areas suitable for controlled mating of queen bees in the Italian national territory based on data currently available in the BDNA.