3.1.4. Reference data

It is obvious that recognized sets of reference samples are of utmost importance not only in determining new ecotypes, but even more so for allocating unknown samples into the existing pattern. However, there is a regrettable lack of consistency between the reference sets used, and frequently, except some general information on sampling location, no further specification of the origin of reference samples or their validation method is given. This is specifically worrisome as beekeeping might already have changed the properties of the population in question, or colonies might have been selected as source for breeder lines without previous confirmation of their congruency with the original subspecies. Thus, there is an urgent need to establish generally and widely accepted standards for subspecies reference samples, combined with the storage of the corresponding samples and data in accessible collections and data banks. To date, the only comprehensive and well documented compilation of data for morphometric characters for the majority of honey bee subspecies is given by Ruttner (1988), and complete sets of these measurements can be obtained from the Oberursel Institute, Germany.