Lecture and Lecturers profiles
This page should be read in conjunction with the programme. It was a brilliant event, that may never be surpassed.
I will leave this page displayed for historical purposes and to remind attendees what they witnessed.
This list will be updated when new information becomes available.
Lecturer: Andrew Abrahams. Scotland
Andrew Abrahams graduated Bsc(Hons) Agriculture Edinburgh in 1970. After four years teaching agriculture in Guatemala he returned to Scotland to farm oysters on the isolated Hebridean island of Colonsay. Interest in beekeeping followed. Beekeeping skills were learnt at Heather Hills, Blairgowrie with 1,500 stocks.
Colonsay's population of pure Blacks is derived from colonies selected from locations around Scotland during the late 1970's and 1980's. Slowly improved stock is kept primarily for quality honey production (heather/wildflower). Colonsay's Atlantic climate limits commercial queen rearing. However, gentle, easily handled stock are ideal for beekeeping courses.
Colonsay's disease free stock is invaluable to UK and European research teams studying honey bee diseases. Present projects include determining DWV levels in varroa free stock and a study of available, and perhaps changing, number of sex alleles within Colonsay's population.
After many years of campaigning Scottish Government legislation now gives Reserve status to Colonsay, protecting against genetic and disease incursion.
Lecture: "Keeping Bees in the Hebrides and Working with a Closed Population"
Rainfall of 100 inches/year makes Scotland's north west coast unsuitable for keeping bees. Hebridean islands lying to the west of mountains have half that rainfall. Low lying islands record UK's highest sunshine hours. Mild winters and cooling sea winds also influence bee keeping.
Irish monks settled the western seaboard in the 5th Century and brought their bees to the Hebrides. Worldwide, isolated islands are used by bee-keepers to maintain and improve breeding stock. In 1910 a Reserve for acarine resistant Apis.m.m. was proposed for Hebridean island of Lewis. Colonsay was used during 1940s and 1950s as a queen rearing station for Apis.m.m In January 2014 Colonsay was given statutory protection as a Reserve for Apis.m.m
Due to its topography and agriculture Colonsay has a uniquely rich and diverse flora, with over 50% of all British wild flowers. Bees have an extended and varied range of pollens and nectars. The management system of around 60 stocks is centred on maximising production of high quality wildflower/heather honey.
This management system for honey production must also attempt to maintain and improve the genetics of a closed, disease free, population, avoiding decline in productivity caused by inbreeding. These are generally conflicting influences.
Lecture: "Overwintering Mininucs"
Efforts to expand populations of locally bred "native" bees are continuously undermined by the introduction of imported queens to an area. Many bee keepers would willingly pay higher prices for local queens, if they were made available within UK in early spring. It is then that demand is highest to replace winter losses, drone layers, etc. Locally bred queens are seldom available before June. Costs of overwintering in five frame nuclei are high. Can overwintering mininucs be an alternative?
Experience gained over 20 years in a harsh environment will be discussed. The main limitations and difficulties to this system are described. Techniques to minimise losses will be outlined. Are survival rates of 50-70% worthwhile?
Lecturer: Ingvar Arvidsson. Projekt Nordbi. Sweden
Ingvar Arvidsson is a bee breeder with 70 colonies who breeds about 300 queens a year. The Swedish Projekt NordBi was established in 1990. Ingvar is project leader and is responsible for Lurö mating station.
Lecture: "Projekt NordBi, Sweden. How to preserve and develop our black bee in Sweden"
After 100 years of heavy imports of bees of other races from the south our native bee Apis m. mellifera was nearly extinct. After 1950 other races were more and more dominant. The national organization showed no interest.
In 1984 the mating station on Lurö in Lake Vänern was established. There was great interest from many breeders with hope of better black bees. Because of lack of control of drones no improvement of mated queens quality was seen.
In 1990 Projekt NordBi was started. The talk covers the work done that has resulted on 600 queens a year being raised. There is growing interests in our queens from several countries in Europe. We try to help, but every year we have difficulties to satisfy all inquiries.
Lecturer: Willie Blakely. N. Ireland, Dromore Beekeepers Association, NIHBS – Committee member
Mr William Blakely is Apiary Manager for Dromore Beekeepers Association and a steering group member representing Ulster at the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS). William has been rearing native queens at the association apiary for a number of years and has established a queen rearing group providing quality, locally bred queens whilst encouraging and supporting others to do the same. Supporting this work is his background in the pharmaceutical industry with over 25 years experience in research and product development.
Lecture: "The Problems and Solutions of a Queen Rearing Group"
In this lecture we look at the challenges of working with a group of largely novice beekeepers. The challenge is to work co-operatively and productively to execute a simple queen rearing model that exploits the strengths of individual members to produce large numbers of native queens and encourage participation from association members and the local beekeeping community at large.
Lecturer: Michel Bocquet. France.
Agronomist, beekeeping consultant and independent researcher in the field of beekeeping, bee products, and the use of honeybees as environmental bio-indicator. He has a recognized international experience since 1991 in beekeeping consulting (beekeeping branch audits, training and coaching of numerous beekeepers). He is owner of a bee farm of 200 colonies (honey, swarms and queens, experiments).
Since 2013 he developed a laboratory on the “Plateforme BioPark d’Archamps” (France, near Geneva) with research programmes on honey bee immunity (Hemato Bee Test™) and reproductive quality of queens and drones. He has developed various tools such as remote scales and weather station for apiaries, anti-theft systems, cartographic methods for evaluating pollen and nectar potential, and technico-economical systems for bee farm management.
Lecture: "Assessment of quality and breeding value of queens and drones"
During the past 15 years, the need for bee stocks has increased dramatically, to replace winter losses. Commercial beekeepers dedicated to bee breeding have to face a huge demand, especially in spring. This has resulted in an increase of imports (queens, swarms, packages) to offer a quantitative response to the market. So the quality of imported or produced stock has not been a priority in the past years. Nevertheless, new operators are coming into this market and a new generation of beekeepers are demanding higher quality in their purchases. This is why we began various programmes to monitor/evaluate the quality of queens and drones.
A first programme aims to qualify spermatozoid quality in spermatheca (queens), in testicles (drones) and in sperm samples for instrumental insemination. Some examples of application are discussed. A second programme tests the quality of a queen throughout its life. A third programme is an extension of the HematoBeeTest™ programme (diagnosis of worker bees by the mean of haemolymph analysis). We propose to study the composition of haemolymph of the queen bee in order to get what we can call a “fingerprint” that gives us some indication of its quality.
Lecturer: Giles Budge. Research coordinator, National Bee Unit, Food and Environment Research Agency, Sand Hutton, York, YO411LZ
Giles has 18 years experience conducting applied research across three national organizations. He obtained his first degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from UEA in Norwich and his PhD in Molecular Plant Pathology from Reading University. He is interested in using molecular methods to investigate the biology of both host and parasites, to improve disease control.
Lecture: "Understanding the genetics and provenance of UK honey bee populations"
Humans have moved their livestock to travel alongside them for millennia. Honey bees are not immune to such behaviour and as such millions of queen movements occur each year to satisfy the ever growing global market in hive products and pollination service provision. Giles will document the trends in recent movements of honey bee stocks onto UK shores, and discuss the implications for pest and disease biosecurity. He will then present results from several National Bee Unit (NBU) studies which sought to identify genetic signals in these imported honey bees, and allow genotype track-and-trace. Finally he will present the results of genetic screening from nearly 300 apiaries across England and Wales, and describe the pattern of introgression of "foreign" honey bee genotypes into the native Apis mellifera mellifera population and discuss the implications for those interested in conserving native "black" honey bee.
Lecturer: Norman L Carreck. England. University of Sussex.
Norman Carreck has been keeping bees since the age of 15. He read Agricultural Science at Nottingham University and between 1991 and 2006 was at Rothamsted Research working on bee pathology and pollination ecology. He obtained the National Diploma in Beekeeping in 1996, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society in 2004, and a Fellow of the Society of Biology in 2011. He is an Honorary Member of BIBBA, a member of the Technical Committee of the British Beekeepers Association, a Trustee of the C.B. Dennis British Beekeepers Research Trust, a member of the Examinations Board for the National Diploma in Beekeeping, the UK member of the Executive Committee of the international honey bee research network "COLOSS", and Senior Editor of the Journal of Apicultural Research. He is employed as Science Director of the International Bee Research Association and as a research scientist at the University of Sussex.
Lecture: "What future for local bees in Britain?"
The UK has never had a well-established queen rearing industry, so most colonies are headed by queens of unknown origin, but this has allowed near-native bees to remain in many parts of the country. Nevertheless, a number of firms sell imported queens and a number of beekeepers champion their use. The views of a number of professional conservationists and ecologists who claim that the honey bee is alien to Britain, and that honey bees have only a minor role in pollination have also been very unhelpful. A number of recent papers have, however, drawn attention to the possible disease risks associated with imported bees. The UK government's new National Pollinator Strategy covers all species of insect pollinator, but may provide opportunities for promoting the conservation of honey bees. The results of the recent COLOSS Honey bee Genotype-Environmental Interactions experiment published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, which show that locally adapted strains of bee consistently tend to perform better than imported strains provides support for the use of local bees over imported strains, and will hopefully encourage the further development of breeding groups working with locally adapted bees.
Lecturer: Geoff Critchley. Wales.
Geoff has been keeping bees for 30years in the Clwydian Hills, North Wales. After a 35 year career as a Civil Engineer in the water industry he spent 3 years as a seasonal bee inspector. Having kept as many as 60 hives in the past, he now runs about 20 hives. Geoff is a Master Beekeeper and runs beginners, queen rearing and Advanced Husbandry courses. Geoff is an examiner for the BBKA up to General Husbandry level, and gives talks to associations in North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire and Shropshire. Keeping bees in North Wales at an elevation over 200m is a challenge, for which Amm bees are well suited. We are fortunate that the local area has a good population of near native stock. Geoff is a founder member of the North Wales group of Queen Rearers.
Lecture: "The answer was disappointing, but what was I looking for?"
The lecture topic came about as a result of a question I set when I wrote the paper for BBKA Module 7 "Selection and Breeding of Honeybees". "A group of 6 beekeepers in a local association, each with 5 to 10 colonies want to improve their local bees. Describe how they could set up a breeding program and what equipment would be needed. (They have available to them an isolated moorland site 30 miles away where the nearest known beekeeper is over 5 miles away.) Include a timescale for the planned improvement". The question was tackled by only a small number of candidates, and the results were disappointing. This would suggest that even at this level of beekeeping, few had a clear understanding of setting up a breeding group and collectively improving their bees. The lecture will try to show how to set up a breeding group and the timescale required in order to achieve any genuine improvements. Examples will be shown with reference to the North Wales Breeding Groups.
Lecturer: Bjørn Dahle. Norway, Norwegian Beekeepers Association.
I am employed by the Norwegian Beekeepers Association as a senior advisor where I am responsible for the national breeding work on honey bees. We are focusing on the native Apis mellifera mellifera and the introduced A. m. carnica. In addition I am leading several RTD projects on various topics, amongst them honey bee health. Besides I hold a 20% position as an assistant professor at the University of Life Sciences. As a beekeeper I have about 10-20 colonies.
Lecture: "Conservation efforts and status of Apis mellifera mellifera in Norway"
In the lecture I will give an overview of the situation for the black bee in Norway and the threats that have reduced the population during the last decades. Thereafter I will present established and planned conservation efforts to protect the black bee from eradication and hybridization and make the black bee more popular amongst beekeepers.
Lecturer: Celia Davis. UK. Warwickshire Beekeepers Association.
Celia began beekeeping in 1980 with a nucleus. For many years she, and her daughter, managed 14 stocks in two apiaries. She now maintains only 5 colonies and quite likes the idea of 3, but never actually gets there. She is particularly partial to nucs and often has at least as many 3, 4, and 5 frame nucs as full colonies, usually overwintering 2. She rears a few queens, using a Jenter kit but has grafted larvae in the past. She does a great deal of lecturing and teaching and has written 2 books which have been well received and are both now into second editions. Having worked through the BBKA Examinations, she obtained an NDB in 1994 and now acts as an assessor/examiner at all levels. She has also held various offices both at Branch and County level, including County Secretary for 11 years and President for 5.
Lecture: "Understanding the Youngsters"
This lecture will look at growth and development, including nutrition, from egg to emergence of the bee, whether it be a worker, drone or queen. It will concentrate particularly on the influence of pheromones, both from adult bees and the brood, on the behaviour of the workers in relation to the larvae and how the brood influences colony activities.
Lecturer: Pilar De la Rúa. Spain, University of Murcia.
After graduating in biology in the University of Murcia, I finished my PhD in Robin Moritz’s group in Berlin and Halle-Saale (Germany), where I discovered the European scientific community doing research in apidology. After moving back to Murcia, I started teaching apiculture to veterinary students and cooperating in the management of 40 hives on the campus. I have been involved in the Eurbee association since its first Congress in 2004 and became its President in 2012. My research is mainly focused on understanding how honey bee, stingless bee and bumblebee populations are genetically structured, in order to develop conservation strategies.
Lecture: "Conservation status of Apis mellifera iberiensis in Spain."
Conservation of honey bee populations is attracting worldwide interest given their worrying decline in the last decade. In Spain several associations of beekeepers have shown great interest in the preservation of local honey bee populations.
At the University of Murcia we have made a serious effort to provide scientific support for such initiatives. In this lecture I will present an overview of the projects carried out both at mainland and island levels, starting with a brief description of sampling and molecular techniques used.
While the situation on the mainland is not a cause for concern regarding the introduction of other breeds and lines of queen honey bees, on the islands the situation is more complicated since the introduction level is high in some of them, which certainly has a great impact not only in the preservation of local populations adapted to the special conditions of insularity, but also on local honey bee health. As a result of these studies we can conclude that effective measures are necessary for the protection of local honey bee populations through conservation plans including the installation of quarantine apiaries and breeding areas, among other measures.
Lecturer: Balser Fried. Switzerland
I was born in 1939 and I am a 3rd generation beekeeper with Apis mellifera mellifera bees. Only after World War II did the first professional beekeeper start in our valley with carnica. So I personally witnessed the whole change of bee subspecies and the negative effects of hybridization. For many years I just helped my family in beekeeping. Only in 1979 did I start with my own apiary.
As a member of the local bee keepers association in Werdenberg, I started very soon with queen rearing and became involved in dark bee conservation activities. In this connection, I was president for six years of the Swiss Mellifera Bee Friends’ Association and participated in activities of SICAMM. Today I have an apiary with 12 colonies and I am breeding pure mellifera queens within the bee breeding standards.
Lecture: "Correlation between morphometry according to Ruttner and DNA analyses in determination of affiliations within the bee subspecies Apis mellifera mellifera." (Martina Siller’s thesis)
In her Master’s degree thesis, Martina Siller has investigated about 10,000 A. m. mellifera bees from two mellifera populations originating from the Tyrol and the Salzburg areas. Part of that work was the morphometric measurement according to Ruttner. The measured features are gentleness, weight of hatched brood, Cubital index, Hantel index, Discoidal Shift, hair length, tomentum width, and markings on the 2nd abdominal segment. DNA analysis was performed on 190 bees by Per Kryger of the University of Aarhus.
Correlations between morphometric and DNA data were calculated for this presentation. The legitimacy or the field of application of the morphometry for the determination of the purity of the respective bee populations is presented by comparing the results from these two approaches.
Lecturer: Jonathan Getty. Ireland. UBKA member and Secretary Belfast Beekeepers Association.
Jonathan Getty is a member of Belfast & District Beekeepers and is at least a fourth generation beekeeper in the Getty family. His main beekeeping interest is queen rearing based on our native bee Apis mellifera mellifera.
Jonathan holds a BSc Hons in Psychology from Queens University Belfast and gained a postgraduate teaching qualification at Stranmillis Teacher Training College. He is a fluent Spanish speaker.
Lecture: " Apidea Management - What Works For Me"
This lecture will look at the day to day preparation and management of a large number of Apideas and will include tips for getting the maximum number of mated queens.
Lecturer: Ben Harden. Ireland.
Ben has been keeping bees for some 40 years. As a sideline he imported and sold beekeeping requisites, as well as small scale wax milling. When his main occupation fizzled out he became a more serious appliance dealer.
Lecture: "Dynamics of the Winter Cluster"
Winter is when most colony losses occur. In the 1970's Bernhard Möbus set out to investigate what happens within a colony during this period and his results challenge the commonly held beekeeping lore that a colony of bees is broodless in cold winter weather. This radical view is more recently being shown to be correct by researchers, however it seems that Bernhard is the only one to give a sound hypothesis of the why and necessity for bees to rear brood in cold weather.
Lecturer: John Hendrie. England.
He has kept bees for over 50 years and during that time has managed up to 35 colonies. These days he has just two colonies. He has held a number of jobs in beekeeping during this time and is currently the Moderator for the British Beekeepers Association Examinations Board.
He lectures across the British Isles on a wide range of beekeeping topics. He runs workshops for BBKA Examinations and is in charge of training the BBKA Examiners.
Lecture: "Queen Supersedure"
The talk will cover reasons for supersedure in hives and ways these may be overcome, and where supersedure could be used to advantage by the beekeeper.
Lecturer: A. Rustem Ilyasov. Russia, Institute of Biochemistry and Genetics of Ufa Science Centre RAS.
I am a population geneticist and molecular biologist specialising in honey bees Apis mellifera. I have worked in the laboratory of biochemistry of insect adaptability since 2002 and I am studying the honey bee subspecies A.m.mellifera in Russia. In 2006 I was awarded a PhD degree.
We analyze polymorphisms of 9 chromosomal microsatellite loci ap243, 4a110, a24, a8, a43, a113, ap049, a88, a28, and also a sequencing of loci COI-COII, COI, ND2 mtDNA and loci EF1-a, Vg of nuclear DNA in the laboratory. We also identify diseases of honey bees by RT-PCR: American and European foulbrood, Ascospherosis, Nosematosis and Virus infections. We also carry out biochemical research on the immunity of honey bees, and molecular biological research into the expression of genes of Vitellogenin, Defensin, Hymenoptaecin, Abaecin, Cytochrome C Oxidase subunit I and II, Cytoplasmatic Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase 1, Mitochondrial Mn Superoxide dismutase 2, Catalase, Thioredoxin reductase, Mitochondrial thioredoxin peroxidase 3, and Glutathione peroxidase I.
Lecture: "Isolates of Dark European honey bees Apis mellifera mellifera L. in the Ural Mountains (Russia)."
The Russian Urals contain a huge pool of dark European honey bees (about 500,000 colonies) mainly in two regions – the Bashkortostan republic (about 300,000 colonies) and Permskii Krai (about 200,000 colonies). Some of these bees “cave nest” in hollow tree trunks. We have demonstrated their taxonomic identity with Apis mellifera mellifera by DNA analysis: by sequencing of loci at COI-COII and ND2 in the mtDNA and from polymorphism analysis of 9 chromosomal microsatellite loci (ap243, 4a110, a24, a8, a43, a113, ap049, a88, a28). We have located about five isolated populations of dark European honey bees in the Urals: in the national park Shulgan-Tash (South Urals), the wildlife area Altyn-Solok (South Urals), national park Bashkiriya (South Urals) in the Bashkortostan republic and the wildlife area Malinovyi Hutor (Middle Urals) and the national park Visherskii (North Urals) in Permaskii Krai. This Ural population of dark European honey bees could be a source for restoration of a gene pool of these bees in North and West Eurasia.
Lecturer: Ethel Irvine. Fermanagh Beekeepers' Association, Northern Ireland
Ethel took up beekeeping because of her memory of her grandfather working at his bees. He was a totally relaxed and gentle beekeeper, a state of euphoria which she says she has never managed to emulate. Once her youngest son was old enough to stay in the house when told to, she got her first bees. That was in 1982.
Ethel is a small scale beekeeper, with around eight hives in a home apiary. Her bees are native to the area as she has purposely not imported any bees from outside Fermanagh during the past fourteen years. Summer 2013 saw a departure from this as she introduced a queen from elsewhere in Ireland and is at present evaluating her performance.
Ethel is a member of Fermanagh Beekeepers' Association, where she served as Honorary Treasurer and their representative on the UBKA executive for many years.
She entered the FIBKA education system and obtained their highest qualification, that of lecturer, in 2000. Because of her background in education, it was only natural that Ethel should take a special interest in passing on knowledge and raising standards of beekeeping in all parts of Ireland. She is a member of both the UBKA and FIBKA Education Boards.
Ethel is a past President and Chairman of UBKA.
Lecture: "The Importance of the Drone in the hive"
Only twenty years ago (or less) the drone was the butt of many jokes during any discussion of beekeeping. The lecture takes a more serious look at the role of the drone in the colony, the anatomy of the drone, the investment made by workers in raising drones and the difficulties which we as beekeepers put in their way. Some of our modern practices are challenged and it encourages the beekeeper to evaluate carefully their actions when those actions impact on the drones in the colony.
Lecturer: Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda. Native Irish Honey Bee Society, Ireland.
Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda is a fourth-generation beekeeper who learned the craft through helping his father from a young age in Co. Tipperary. He soon became aware of the urgent necessity for conserving and protecting the various strains of dark European honey bees that still existed throughout Ireland.
After settling in Co. Louth, he embarked on his own beekeeping enterprise using local strains of native honey bee. He has been involved in reviving and developing the Co. Louth Beekeepers Association, organising classes for beginners and lecture programmes for all members, and he also lectures to other beekeeping associations around Ireland.
For the last eight years, he has acted as editor of The Four Seasons, initially the Galtee Bee Breeding Group newsletter but now adopted as the voice of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society. He has used his editorial skills to develop this publication into a very attractive educational guide for the promotion throughout Ireland of the native Irish honey bee.
In 2012, Eoghan was awarded the international Josef Stark Award for his contribution to the conservation of the dark European honey bee. He currently manages over one hundred colonies and rears native queens for his own use and that of local beekeepers.
Lecture: "Evaluating and Selecting Honey Bee Stocks for Breeding"
A strategy for selecting queens for inclusion in a breeding programme will be described. Before embarking on a queen-rearing programme, it is vitally important to select breeder queens with good characteristics.
Based on observations made by Beowulf Cooper on the characteristics of native honey bees, the Galtee Bee Breeding Group has developed a system for evaluating colonies. Under this system, at each inspection, colonies are rated with regard to docility, steadiness on the comb, brood pattern, pollen gathering, and comb production. At the end of the year, each colony is then given a quantitative score, allowing queens to be ranked in order. These data can then be combined with information on honey productivity, swarming propensity, disease resistance and “nativeness.” Ultimately, this allows the selection of candidate breeder queens and drone mothers for the following breeding season.
Lecture: "Strategies for the Conservation of the European dark bee, Apis mellifera mellifera."
Existing and potential mechanisms by which surviving populations of A. m. mellifera can be protected within the subspecies' original home range will be discussed. European Union (EU) law would appear to indicate that, as the honey bee is classed as a domestic species, its movement across borders cannot be restricted except in cases relating to animal health. However, the European Court decision regarding the Læsø brown bee provides a basis for the establishment of legally binding conservation areas for particular subspecies of A. m. mellifera. Furthermore, the EU Common Agricultural Policy recognises the need to preserve locally important honey bee subspecies.
Nationally, policies already exist for the conservation of A. m. carnica and A. m. ligustica in Slovenia and Italy, respectively. Regionally, conservation areas for A. m. mellifera with a certain degree of legal protection can be found in a number of countries. There are also many “voluntary” conservation areas in which beekeepers in a designated area agree to only keep A. m. mellifera stocks. A small number of “de facto” conservation areas also exist, in which measures to restrict honey bee imports coincidentally help protect local A. m. mellifera populations. In general, there appears to be considerable scope under EU law to establish conservation areas for A. m. mellifera, and national governments need to be convinced of this.
Lecturer: Micheál Mac Giolla Coda. Galtee Bee Breeding Group, Ireland.
Micheál Mac Giolla Coda built his first hive in 1956. He was a founding member of the Kerry BKA and subsequently joined the South Tipperary BKA serving as Hon. Secretary, Chairman and Archivist. He was elected to the national Executive of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations (FIBKA) in 1982, serving as President from 1984 to 1986. He is a past president of BIBBA and served for some years on the executive committee of SICAMM. He was a founder member and past Chairman of the Galtee Bee Breeding Group (GBBG) and also a founder member and serves as a current committee member of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS). He was awarded the FIBKA Beekeeper of the Year in 1983. He is a holder of the Senior Honey Judge’s Certificates of FIBKA and BBKA. He is A certified Lecturer of FIBKA and was also conferred with the National Diploma in Science (Apiculture) by Cork Institute of Technology. Micheál still plays an active part in running the Galtee Honey Farm involving the management of 150 honey-production colonies and the production for sale of some 300 Dark Galtee Queen Bees annually.
Lecture: "Conservation and Improvement of the Native Irish Honey Bee."
This talk deals mainly with the working of the members of Galtee Bee Breeding Group (GBBG) and their efforts over the past twenty five years in studying and improving local Irish strains of native honey bees starting with the Galtee/Vee Valley. This is where the bee improvement group was first established by four local beekeepers in 1991. This group was inspired by the work of BIBBA and indeed received much help and advice in the early years from its members especially from Albert Knight, the then secretary of BIBBA.
We developed a system of working, including methods of colony evaluation and recording that has served us in good stead over the years and has influenced breeding groups across the island of Ireland. We were instrumental in providing bee improvement workshops for Irish beekeepers.
We carried out an all-Ireland survey of bees to assess the distribution of pure strains of Apis mellifera mellifera and this was further enhanced by sending samples of bees to Copenhagen University for DNA analysis. GBBG could be described as the fore runner of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS ) which covers the whole of the island of Ireland and is presently very active in furthering the principles of GBBG, BIBBA and SICAMM in each of the thirty two counties of Ireland.
Lecturer: Aoife Nic Giolla Coda. The Native Irish Honey Bee Society, Ireland.
Aoife Nic Giolla Coda is from Co. Tipperary, Ireland and is Public Relations Officer of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS), while also being a founder member of the society. Having been around bees her entire life, she has over 25 years practical beekeeping experience. During her time in Co. Clare, she was secretary of the Banner Beekeepers Association for several years, while also acting as a mentor to beginners around the county.
In 2011, she returned to Tipperary, to work with her father Micheál on Galtee Honey Farm and is involved in managing approximately 150 Apis mellifera mellifera colonies with him. On the honey farm, emphasis is put on breeding, honey production and rearing approximately 200 queens per year for Irish beekeepers. Aoife has a keen interest in all aspects of bee husbandry, while also having a great passion for the conservation and development of A. m. mellifera in Ireland. In 2013, she obtained her FIBKA Senior Beemaster’s Certificate and in 2014 is preparing for her FIBKA lectureship. She also has a First Class Honours Degree in Graphic Design and a Post Graduate Diploma in Art and Design Education.
Lecture: "Apis mellifera mellifera in Ireland and the Role of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS)."
The Native Irish Honey Bee Society was founded for a variety of reasons. Among them, was the concern that Irish A.m.m populations might disappear due to an increase in imports and hybridisation. The main aim of NIHBS is to promote the conservation, study, improvement and reintroduction of Apis mellifera mellifera, (Native Irish Honey Bee), throughout the island of Ireland. The lecture covers the status of Apis mellifera mellifera in Ireland from the last decades of the 20th century up until recent times. There have been DNA and morphometry surveys undertaken over the years, with more due to take place over the future. Bee Improvement Groups play an important role in the development of A.m.m. in Ireland. Other aspects of the lecture include the importance of breeders; achievements of NIHBS; ongoing NIHBS Projects; future goals.
Lecturer: Trisha Marlow. Wales.
Trisha has around 35 colonies of locally-adapted bees on six apiaries in the Welsh Marches and breeds her own queens selectively. She runs Camlad Apiaries - a Shropshire Sustainable (small) Business - with her partner, mainly selling honeys to health-food shops and delicatessens. Luckily, various children have acquired skills at frame and super making, apidea and nuc box painting, and selling at food festivals during times of flat-out domestic pandemonium (situation normal).
Bees seem to have become a full-time occupation. Trisha is a BBKA Qualified Beekeeper and Basic Assessor, a trustee of BIBBA (Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders' Association), a member of Shropshire BKA; also Bee Recorder for Montgomeryshire (a daunting challenge). A firm believer in accessible and relevant life-long education for beekeepers through sound theory and, vitally, personal observation and that of trusted beekeeping colleagues and friends.
With an MSc in sustainable building and renewables, Trisha is looking forward to NGO work in West Africa with Bees Abroad. She is also a keen photographer, winning prizes at the National Honey Show, and, when not immersed in all things bee, continues to develop a pollinator and forest garden, enjoys pottering in kayaks with the family, and plays assorted musical instruments with varying musicality.
Lecture: "Fit to rule? Nutrition for queen honey bees."
Every colony inspection needs an answer to the questions: is this colony queenright, and does she appear to be an effective, healthy queen? To the colony of course, such a queen is key to its survival and success.
To ensure quality larvae for grafting, sound larvae in open cells for swarm control, or sealed swarm cells from selected colonies to transfer for increase when the bees get ahead of us, what strategies can we consider to try to ensure optimal nutrition for robust, productive queens?
We will also explore the current understanding of the related and fascinating subject of nutritional inputs to differentiation in the queen honey bee.
Lecturer: Andrzej Oleksa. Poland, Department of Genetics, Kazimierz Wielki University, Chodkiewicza 30, 85-064, Bydgoszcz
I was born in Morag, Poland in1974. I studied biology at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun where I got my B.Sc. in 1998, received my Ph.D. in biology at the same university in 2003.
I started to study bees when I moved to Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz in 2003. Currently, my main area of interest is conservation biology of insects, including honey bees.
The aim of my research was to assess the level of introgression of foreign genes into the protected population of the native dark bees using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers. Furthermore, the insufficient isolation by distance in the captive breeding of dark bees provoked me to study the mechanisms that could limit gene flow between subspecies of honey bees.
Lecture: "Assortative mating among European subspecies of honey bees."
Northern Poland is inhabited by the native dark bees Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm) and the non-native Carniolan bees A. m. carnica (Amc) which were introduced by beekeepers. However, hybrids between the two subspecies of bee are relatively rare.
The lower than expected proportion of hybrids is hypothesised to be related to reproductive isolation between Amm and Amc. To verify this hypothesis, we allowed the Amm and Amc queens to be naturally inseminated in an area inhabited by both Amm and Amc drones. Genotype of the queens and their sexual partners were derived based on samples of their worker offspring. Assignment of parental genotypes to the two subspecies was performed with a Bayesian clustering method.
In colonies headed by Amm queens, workers were fathered mainly by Amm drones. On the other hand, in colonies headed by Amc queens workers were fathered by drones of both subspecies. The asymmetry of reproductive isolation between Amm and Amc agrees with the reinforcement hypothesis suggesting that isolation would evolve in zones of overlap between subspecies.
The partial reproductive isolation reported here between Amm and Amc may facilitate the protection of Amm. Even in the absence of spatial isolation, a relatively large proportion of colonies can be maintained pure.
Lecturer: Harry Owens. Isle of Man Beekeepers Federation
I have been keeping bees since 1968 and am the Bee Inspector and advisor to the Isle of Man Government for the last 20 years or more. Am actively involved with maintaining our isolation from importation of bees to the Island, which has been in effect since 1987 by Isle of Man Law and has now been agreed by the E.C. Have again this year bred queens using the Cupkit method with some success and at this moment have queens just in the stage of being mated from mini nucs.
Our bees have gradually lost the influence of the imported strains which had been introduced over the years. Natural selection dictated by our climate as well as beekeepers selecting a better bee for their needs.
Lecture: "Bees in the Isle of Man."
I will give a general outline of the Isle of Man, which hopefully will let delegates see how the Island, 37.5 miles long and 12 miles at its widest part in the North Irish Sea is quite different in terrain and weather in its several parts. I will also show beekeeping generally and endeavour to supply details of the morphometry of our bees.
Lecturer: Roger Patterson. England.
An engineer by trade, Roger was brought up on a farm in West Sussex and started beekeeping in 1963.
Roger writes, lectures and demonstrates widely, where his down to earth approach that is based on observation and logic and gained by his practical background and experience handling a large number of colonies for over 50 years is appreciated.
A Trustee of BBKA and BIBBA and a director of Bee Diseases Insurance, he is Life President of Wisborough Green BKA, where he manages the teaching apiary that usually has in excess of 25 and up to 60 colonies of varying sizes for instruction.
Roger owns and runs Dave Cushman's website. He enjoys teaching beekeeping, encouraging all beekeepers to understand their bees better, and improving them by assessing colonies at every inspection.
He is best known for his border collie Nell, who is probably the best known dog in beekeeping.
Lecture: "Honey Bees in the Wild - What Can we Learn From Them?"
Honey bees have been in existence for millions of years and in mainland Britain for around 10,000 years, where they have survived without too many problems, despite climatic changes. Humans have interfered with them in many ways, including changing their habitat and forage. In the last 150 years or so we have introduced alien sub species that have brought in pests and diseases, as well as subjecting bees to "management systems" that are based on human thinking. They may suit us, but are they best suited to bees?
This new lecture is based on the information gained in removing well over 200 wild colonies from a variety of places, such as trees and buildings, over the last 50 years, 30 of those pre-varroa, where the character of wild colonies was different than at present.
I have learnt a lot about how bees survived in the wild in the U.K. and it often conflicts with what we are told they do. I hope to encourage greater understanding of how bees have evolved to survive naturally, so we can work with our own bees better and develop management methods to suit them, rather than blindly following the dogmatic methods we often see.
Lecturer: Robert Paxton. Germany. Institute for Biology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg.
A graduate of Sussex University, Robert learnt all about bees and beekeeping under Professors Robert Pickard and John Free at Cardiff University in the late 1980's. He subsequently undertook research positions at Uppsala University (Sweden) and the University of Tübingen (Germany) before moving to Queen's University Belfast in 2003. Then, in 2010, he moved back to Germany, to the University of Halle, to take up the chair of general zoology, and where has re-established his group working on bee biology. His main research areas are: social evolution, host-parasite relations in bees, pollination and conservation genetics.
Lecture: "Hybridization: the good, the bad and the ugly."
Hybridization seems to be a pejorative term in many branches of the beekeeping world, yet across the animal and plant kingdoms its merits and demerits are very much context dependent. Here I will point out the positive and negative sides of hybridization in biology. Then I will go on to explore the costs and benefits of different breeding schemes for the honey bee, including line breeding and closed population breeding, before taking a look at honey bee subspecies across Europe, and how hybridization impacts them. Hybridization is not a black and white case.
Lecture: "What we do - and do not - know about honey bee mating"
Since discovery of the honey bee sex pheromone half a century ago, much insight has been gained into the mating system and mating biology of the honey bee. Yet many details of mating in Apis mellifera are still obscure, in large part because mating occurs above ground and often out of our sight. I will outline what we currently know about honey bee mating, and what information we can derive indirectly from the genetic analysis of drones collected at drone congregation areas. Beekeepers can usefully add much information to enrich our current knowledge of honey bee mating.
Lecturer: Keith Pierce. Ireland. Native Irish Honey Bee Society.
I have been keeping dark native bees Apis mellifera mellifera for over 25 years and started selective queen rearing about 15 years ago. My home and main mating apiary is just on the outskirts of Dublin city with the bees foraging over the extensive area of the Phoenix Park and the Liffey Valley, including the gardens of suburban Castleknock. Each year I over winter more colonies than I need, and my selection starts here with the best that have over wintered. My selection program is based on the ability of my bees to over winter strongly, disease resistance, docility, productivity, colour and more. My queens are all naturally open mated, but I have been flooding the vicinity of my main mating apiary with drones from my best colonies that show most of the traits of Apis mellifera mellifera.
Lecture: "Producing Nuclei - The Corner-Stone of a Sustainable Apiary"
Overwintered nucleus colonies are the backbone of a productive Apiary. These nucleus colonies can be used to replace winter die offs or to increase the number of colonies in your apiary and any surplus can be used to provide nucs to beginners. Surplus overwintered nucs which have been raised from bees that are used to and can survive our winters, saves you weeks in time in your beekeeping and for every surplus overwintered nuc it means one less imported package of bees.
Lecturer: Irene Power. Ireland.
Irene Power comes from a well-known and successful beekeeping family. She has had many successes in honey shows in Ireland and London. She is a member of South Tipperary Beekeepers Association & currently the Clonmel Honey Show Secretary. Irene provides beginners courses in counties Limerick and Clare & assists with outdoor demonstrations in South Tipp. She is a very practical beekeeper who maintains 15 - 20 colonies, with keen interests in honey bee health and queen rearing.
Lecture: "At the Hive Side"
Observations made at the hive can improve the assessment of colonies and enhance our beekeeping skills & knowledge. When made from outside they can prevent unnecessary opening of colonies and unnecessary disturbance to the bees. From pollen going in, to large crumbs of wax at the entrance or dysentery on the front of the hive, they all tell their own story, we just need to observe and learn to understand and interpret their meanings.
Lecturer: Dorian Pritchard. UK, BIBBA and SICAMM.
A basic principle of Dorian’s approach to beekeeping is that honey bees operate at their best when maintained at the locations and in the manner for which they have been naturally selected. This approach is informed by his academic training and professional experience, including a broadly based BSc, a postgraduate diploma and PhD in genetics, some 50 years’ experience in biological research and 30 years’ university teaching. He has been a member of Hexham BKA since 1978, was BIBBA Conservation Officer for several years and has served as President of SICAMM since 2004. He is co-leader of the North Pennines Bee Breeding Group, maintains 20 colonies of dark bees, teaches a popular beginners’ course and sells honey in the Tyne Valley. Dorian is first author of three editions of Medical Genetics At A Glance and author of Foundations of Developmental Genetics, plus many scientific papers and popular articles on beekeeping.
Lecture: "Which is the best bee for the North, and how would I identify it?"
Most colony deaths occur in winter, but the natural distribution of the honey bee races in Europe corresponds to that of July average temperature maxima, rather than winter temperatures, suggesting that the relevant selective forces operate in summer. In this lecture the selective advantages of A.m.mellifera will be explored and described. This includes a scoring system based on a recent literature survey by Hubert Guerriat, that compares 23 capabilities of the main racial types. Scoring reveals the overwhelming superiority of A. m. mellifera within northern habitats, with carnica in second place, then Buckfast, ligustica and caucasica.
Another advantage of the A.m.mellifera of North-East England is their high resistance to Varroa destructor. This results in very few mites being seen in their hives and the majority of naturally fallen mites showing disabling physical injury. Their colonies therefore need no chemical or other treatment against varroa and are unaffected by varroa related disease.
The morphological and behavioural identifiers of A.m.mellifera will be outlined and characterization of the subspecies by DNA analysis briefly described.
Lecture: "The Community Concept; why we must all consider our neighbours."
A honey bee colony is of course itself a community, but two other kinds of communities are relevant to the long term survival of honey bees: those of bee colonies and those of beekeepers.
A strain of honey bees is sustainable only if represented by a definable number of unrelated or distantly related queens. Individual colonies and small populations of colonies become non-viable due to conventional inbreeding depression and to reduced fertility due to production of diploid drones. The critical issue for survival or extinction of a small population of colonies is maintenance or reduction in the total number of alternative sex alleles in that population, relative to a critical minimum. The issues of minimal numbers of alternative sex alleles in a population, minimal colony numbers and the geographical range over which inter-apiary interactions occur will be explored. A case will be made for communal sensitivity among beekeepers, introduction of “feral hives” and establishment of mellifera drone corridors.
Lecturer: Gavin Ramsay. Scotland. Scottish Beekeepers’ Association, East of Scotland Beekeepers' Association.
President of the East of Scotland Beekeepers’ Association and Bee Health Convener for the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association. Three years ago, after 16 years of keeping mostly mongrelised honey bees, I’d seen enough. Time to put into action a wish to return to selected native stock and to reclaim the skies from the current genetic chaos in the area.
Selecting stocks in an area with other strains in neighbouring apiaries was never going to work, and didn't. So this spring, thanks to the hard work of colleagues, we have established an isolated mating site in a glen accessible to four local associations. Working with Scottish stock from across the mainland and from Colonsay, we are on target to select, propagate and hopefully distribute native and near-native queens in the coming years, and make some inroads into the poor quality of many of the stocks kept locally.
Lecture: "What can we do with DNA?"
As molecular methods mature and start to deliver benefits across society, what can beekeepers expect from the new technology? This introduction to the topic will consider how DNA has been used to clarify the origins of bee stocks, and outline some of the surprises uncovered as well as some of the confirmations of ideas from the pre-molecular age. It will describe, in terms understandable by the non-specialist, some of the tools now available to geneticists and outline how some of these methods could be used in bee breeding now and in the future. Although considered high technology, DNA methods are escaping from the laboratory to the field, or being provided as services for a relatively small fee. Is this something we, as beekeepers interested in bee breeding, will be adopting before long?
Lecturer: Willie Robson. UK, Chain Bridge Honey Farm.
Willie Robson has kept bees for a living for 50 years as his and his family’s sole source of income. His father Selby Robson taught beekeeping in the South East of Scotland for many years and his knowledge has been very useful. Needless to say all the 1,800 colonies kept are indigenous black bees. At present the business gives employment to 20 people – 10 full time and 10 part time.
Lecture: "Honey farming with local bees."
A detailed assessment of the indigenous black bee as they are in the North East of England and a further assessment of the interaction between the black bee and imported strains.
Chain Bridge Honey Farm is a flourishing family business that was started in 1948. It is situated in Berwick - upon - Tweed, with all bees kept within 40 miles of base. The conditions are harsh compared to many other honey farms and the bees that are kept must be productive and suit the environment. In this lecture Willie Robson will tell us how this is achieved.
Lecture: "What the books don't tell you."
The longer you keep bees and the more colonies you have, the more you realise there is much to learn that isn't covered in bee books. In order to keep bees successfully, whatever number of colonies you have, you need to be observant and possess lateral thinking. These support the "basics" that all beekeepers should know, such as life cycles, disease recognition and what happens in a colony when it swarms.
We all see things we may not have seen before and very often a look in a book doesn't describe what we have seen, therefore doesn't give us guidance on how to deal with it.
Willie Robson is one of the largest bee farmers in Europe, keeping bees in very harsh conditions. He relies on his bees for his living and has settled on bees that suit the environment he works in.
In this lecture Willie will tell us a few things he has dealt with and how he has done it.
Lecturer: Steve Rose. North Wales.
Steve is a BIBBA regional coordinator for North Wales where he helps to facilitate the activities of BIBBA groups in his area. He also rears queens of his own, both as part of a group and independently. His main motivation is to help ensure that queens he and others supply retain their good traits, particularly their gentleness, through subsequent generations. This is done by encouraging careful selection of donor and drone stocks, making local near natives available to all beginners and by helping local BIBBA groups to work together and produce stocks that are compatible with one another.
Steve has been a professional Engineer throughout his working life and moved to semi-retirement on a smallholding in Denbighshire six years ago where he could concentrate his efforts in bee improvement.
Lecture: "Hassle-free Queenright Queen Rearing"
Steve has been rearing queens for about 10 years and, for the first couple of years, started with a queenright system. He had limited success until switching to a queenless method when his success rate suddenly improved. Nevertheless he was still anxious to switch back to a queenright technique and eventually developed his own which was at least as successful as his queenless systems but retained all the advantages associated with using queenright colonies. In his system the bees remain gentle, produce strong queens and continue honey production while the queen cells are started and finished in a single queenright colony. The system is simple and requires little extra equipment or special skills.
This simple system has been in use for 4 seasons and followed a season's experimentation with a 2-queen hive developed especially to persuade non- prolific and non-swarmy bees to produce queen cells in respectable numbers. It was eventually shown though that all this could be achieved with a single queen using more conventional equipment.
Lecturer: Graham Royle. UK.
Graham started beekeeping in 1988 and started to study for the BBKA examinations in 1995 when he decided he wanted to know a lot more about the bees he was keeping. His studies resulted in achieving the BBKA Master Beekeeper certificate in 2002 and the National Diploma in Beekeeping in 2004. He was also awarded the Wax Chandler's prize in 2002.
Graham currently manages 20 colonies in four apiaries. His main interests in beekeeping are queen rearing and stock improvement having had some terrible tempered bees in his early years. He is heavily involved with the education of beekeepers at all levels from encouraging beginners to take up the craft to preparing more experienced beekeepers to take the Modular, Husbandry and Microscopy exams.
Lecture: "Apis Through the Looking Glass"
"Apis through the Looking Glass" takes a close up look at both the external and internal structures of the honey bee. Many beekeepers never look closely at the individual bees which make up their colonies and hence haven't seen much of the amazing detail of the bee's anatomy. Featuring many photographs taken under the microscope, the lecture focuses on the adaptations of the bee's structure that have taken millions of years to evolve to make the bee so efficient at its various tasks. Topics covered in the lecture include the senses of the bee, flight, defence, foraging and digestion. Animated drawings are used together with photomicrographs to explain the operation of the indirect flight muscles, the sting and how the bee packs pollen into its corbiculae.
Lecture: "The Colony mind"
Honey bee colonies are sometimes referred to as "superorganisms". Although made up of thousands of individuals, the colony behaves like a single living entity. How does such a superorganism adapt and respond to its environment? Does the superorganism have a mind of its own?
Communication plays a vital role within the organisation of a colony. It is through communication that individual members of a colony are able to work together to achieve far more collectively than they could as individuals. Whether it be foraging, comb building, defence, or swarming, effective communication enables a colony to quickly adapt its behaviour to respond to changes in its environment. These changes in behaviour by a colony can be viewed as "decision making" by the superorganism.
In "The Colony Mind" we take a look at this decision making. What decisions does a colony make and how does it make them?
Lecturer: Gerry Ryan. Ireland.
I am a beekeeper for the past 20 years. Along with my wife Mary, we manage on average 50 colonies of Bees in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, Ireland. We are very involved in education, running Beginners, intermediate and senior courses throughout Ireland. I completed my beekeeping education, both practical and scientific, in the South Tipperary Study Group up to and including lectureship. I am presently vice president of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers and manager of the Gormanstown Summer Course. I am on the Committee of the Galtee bee breeding group which promotes Queen rearing and educating beekeepers through workshops and practical demonstrations. We have presented honey at shows both in Ireland and at the London honey show, where we won many prizes. All honey produced is sold from our honey house using an honesty box system.
Lecture: "Preparing for Winter"
This lecture will focus on providing practical information on preparing your colonies for winter by providing a month to month checklist. It will start with the removal of the Crop in August and go through treating for Varroa and feeding for the winter. The lecture will also examine potential risks to the Queen over the winter including how to check for "Queen Right", what to expect from your nuclei, going to the heather and the extraction of heather honey. It will offer advice on the storage of supers and equipment. This is the time of the year for honey shows and this presentation will identify the key steps in preparing your honey and other products for display. Important issues discussed will include; cleaning wax, checking apiary after bad weather, planning for next year, use of oxalic acid to treat varroa, finding new sites and checking colony records and continuing to monitor stores.
Lecturer: Mary Ryan. Ireland.
I am a beekeeper for the past 20 years. Along with my husband Gerry, we manage on average 50 colonies of Bees in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, Ireland. We are very involved in education, running Beginners, intermediate and senior courses throughout Ireland. I completed my beekeeping education, both practical and scientific, in the South Tipperary Study Group up to and including lectureship. I am particularly interested in the science of the honey bee about which I continue to read upon and study.
Lecture: "Simple Genetics for Beekeepers"
This lecture is a simple introduction into the gene world of the honey bee. There are three themes which will be examined. The first theme will cover cells and chromosomes. The second will examine genes and alleles and the third will give a brief insight into a new development in the field of gene science. All of the above have practical implications for beekeeping practices.
Lecturer: Dara Scott. Ireland. NIHBS, Connemara Beekeeping Association, Managing Director of Advance Science (HiveAlive).
Dara Scott has been a beekeeper for over a decade. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway, along with a Diploma in Technology from the Galway & Mayo Institute of Technology.
After graduation he worked in the healthcare diagnostic industry, and subsequently went on to work with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Research Institute based in the US. Following a number of years of product research into bee health he set up Advance Science in Ireland in 2010. For Dara and Advance Science (the company that developed HiveAlive) research and development is a key priority especially in developing new products for the company. This research is conducted in association with scientists and the wider beekeeping community primarily in Europe and the US.
Through this work, Dara has gained a broad knowledge of bee health and international best practice which he hopes may be of some benefit to the beekeeping community in Ireland.
Lecture: "New Breeding Programme to Protect the Native Irish Honey Bee."
This lecture will discuss a project being run by the Native Irish Honey Bee Society(NIHBS) in association with the National University of Ireland Galway and Advance Science. The project is to enable the Native Irish Apis mellifera mellifera to re-colonise back into the wild. This will be realised by improving the health and survivability of A.m.m. in Ireland though selective breeding for Varroa mite resistant traits. Other benefits of this project will include better quality bees for beekeepers with minimal, if any, Varroa treatment and due to additional wild stock improved genetic diversity and mating capabilities. The minimal treatments and reduced colony losses will lead to significant cost savings for the beekeeper.
The lecture will discuss Irelands indigenous bee and why we should try and protect it and the problems the Varroa Mite brings to the bee. It will discuss the background and the method of implementing the project and its benefits. The method is simple and easy to learn and implement for your own bees. Finally there will be an update on our progress to date and our plans for the future.
Lecturer: Wally Shaw. Anglesey Beekeepers’ Association.
My wife (Jenny) and I took up beekeeping in 1987 to help pollinate our newly planted orchard. We never intended to have more than 2-3 hives but now run about 50 colonies in 6 apiaries. Currently we also manage the Association apiary of 12 colonies. We raise 30-40 nucs each year in order to provide beginners (and others) with colonies of locally adapted Anglesey bees. In a former life I was a research ecologist (working mostly on woodlands) and therefore have a keen scientific interest in bees and the relevance of research to the practical management of honey bees. I am Technical Officer for the WBKA and also represent Wales on the Bee Health Advisory Forum.
Lecture: "Local Bees for Local Beekeepers"
The talk starts with a definition of locally adapted bees and their importance. They are certainly the best bees for our area, with its extreme oceanic climate, and also becoming self-sufficient helps to minimize the importation of queens and colonies into the area. On Anglesey we aim to provide all beginners with a nuc of local bees at an economic price. Over recent years we have developed simple and effective methods of raising nucs. These are methods that can be used by any beekeeper with basic skills thus enabling them to raise new colonies at will and improve their stocks. The rest of the lecture is devoted to a description of these methods and their rationale which are, in some respects, a departure from normal practice. These methods are also covered in a recently published WBKA booklet entitled "Simple Methods of Making Increase". This is freely available and can be downloaded from the WBKA website (Information Station).
Lecturer: Gabriele Soland. Apigenix.com – Institute for bee genetics, Switzerland.
Gabriele studied the genetic differentiation and hybridization of different bee and breeding populations in Switzerland. After her PhD Thesis in Population Genetics, she founded Apigenix, a start-up lab, which conducts genetic analyses on bees. Together with her husband, Reto Soland, she manages a professional apiculture service, specialized on the breeding of the native dark bee, Apis mellifera mellifera. She is also working as a technical advisor for the Mellifera Breeders Association in Switzerland and Southern Germany.
Lecture: "The genetic hybrid test and its additional options."
The time and effort that is spend in bee breeding is large. Due to the complex mating behavior, many miles must be covered and many hours must be invested. Of course, a beekeeper would like to work with a system that allows them to see the corresponding progress of their efforts. The achievement of decades of selection can be wiped out by the unnoticed change of a queen or a mismatched mating.
Hybridization distorts the natural structure of the genetic landscape. In densely populated areas, such as Switzerland, it is difficult to find valleys isolated enough to maintain good quality mating yards and the only way to reliably mate queens is artificial insemination. This in turn requires appropriate expertise, equipment and facilities, which is probably why artificial insemination is primarily carried out by institutes or by a few specialists.
In the Swiss mellifera breeding population, it was found that up to 60% of the stock has unnoticedly been hybridized. This is why, seven years ago, the Swiss Mellifera breeders implemented the hybrid genetic test for those queens that are selected for further breeding. Hybridization is a kill factor in Mellifera breeding and hybrids are consistently excluded from the population. Thanks to the continuous and consequent examination of the selected mothers, hybridization decreased to around 10%, probably due to insufficient isolation of the mating yards. Since 2012, drone colonies are equally tested to ensure purity on the father side as well. This consistent genetic analysis has led to the creation of a database with the genetic fingerprint of the breeding queens since 2008. This data now offers more attractive options.
In the future, parentage and mating security can easily be analysed without any additional laboratory costs. Just as for hybridization, the mating control will become standard and allow to avoid the intricate artificial insemination. Simultaneously, the quality of a mating station will automatically become apparent. Something, that has so far been the subject of assumptions or assessed with costly genetic projects.
For any breeders organisation it is worthwhile to consider supporting the work of their members with modern molecular tools.
Lecturer: Pete Sutcliffe. Cheshire BKA. BBKA.
Having grown up with bees in the garden, Pete took up beekeeping himself as soon as he was able, inheriting some WBC hives from his dad. Retirement allowed an expansion in the beekeeping, and, now in his 30th beekeeping year, he keeps between 20 and 30 hives in South Cheshire.
An increased interest in the craft led Pete to embark upon the BBKA examination pathway, and he plodded his way up through the assessments to Master Beekeeper status.
Having served time as Chairman of his local Branch and editor of the Cheshire Beekeeper magazine, he moved on to become a member of the BBKA Executive Committee. He is now Vice Chair of the BBKA and Chair of the Education and Husbandry Committee and serves on the BBKA’s Examinations Board.
Lecture: "Colony Nutrition"
Nutrition has always been recognised as an important part of animal stock management, but in beekeeping it has often largely been left to the bees.
Beekeepers are encouraged to check the "stores" situation when inspecting colonies, but most just think of honey, forgetting that pollen is also needed in order to raise brood. As with animals, bees that are undernourished in their development stage will not make healthy adults, making the colony susceptible to disease and possibly shortening their adult lives.
If diseases, particularly Nosema, are allowed to develop unchecked, this also has a deleterious effect on the development of a colony and the queens it is able to produce. In pollen, the bees have chosen a difficult source of protein! The huge variation in the nutritional value of different pollens has only recently been researched and recognised.
This lecture discusses the needs of a strong and healthy colony in order to survive, including the benefits of a diversity of sources and the effect that a food shortage has. The need for abundant nutrition when raising queens will also be addressed.
Lecturer: Catherine Thompson. University of Leeds, UK.
Catherine completed her 4 year BBSRC funded PhD on the health and status of the UK's feral honey bee and Apis mellifera mellifera population in 2012. She is still based at Leeds University, currently working on global food security and the sustainability of fresh produce supply chains in major retail.
Lecture: "The health and status of feral honey bees in the UK"
In 2009 when this study began, little was known about the feral honey bee population of the UK. Had it been completely destroyed by the ravages of Varroa, or did a healthy population remain? What were the characteristics of these bees and what can they tell us about our own manage colonies and the way we manage them?
Lecturer: Romée van der Zee. Netherlands; Netherlands Centre for Bee Research
Initially a ballet dancer, coordinator of Amsterdam 19th century neighbourhood renewal and moviemaker. Started monitoring honey bee colony losses by beekeeper questionnaires in the Netherlands in 2001 after signals of elevated honey bee losses. Participated in a small group of USA and European scientists, which started in 2007 an international network to exchange information on honey bee losses and investigate possible drivers. This group developed to what is now known as the COLOSS network in which nearly 300 honey bee experts work together. Has been the chair of the monitoring working group most of the time and published articles together with different co-authors about international honey bee colony losses and research protocols.
Current observational studies in the Netherlands are focused on correlations between loss, beekeeper management, pathogens, pesticides, land use and heavy metals.
Investigates why the Apis m. mellifera population at the island of Texel could survive the last decade without severe losses, my dearest project.
Lecture: "Two or three things we don't know about colony losses: an investigation into the findings of the COLOSS international research group."
A recent analysis of international colony losses 2013-14 showed that the honeybee colony mortality rate over the 2013-14 winter varied between countries, ranging from 6% in Norway to 14 % in Portugal, and there were also marked regional differences within most countries. The overall proportion of colonies lost was 9%, the lowest since the international working COLOSS group started collecting data in 2007. In the foregoing years many countries suffered high losses. How to explain this sudden improvement? Which factors explain losses and (why) were they absent during last winter? Few things can be said about this at the moment. The focus of the present talk will be more on the identification of important issues which we do not understand, but should be clarified for a real understanding.
On the island of Texel honey bee colony losses were never higher than 6% during the last decade, while those on the mainland averaged 22%. The isolated colonies on Texel have always been considered as “black bees” and their identification as Apis m. mellifera was recently confirmed, this being one of the last surviving populations. Our long term research project on Texel revealed a reduced rate of reproduction of the varroa mite in colonies of native dark bees, which might contribute to the lower observed risk. Possible explanations of this phenomenon will be discussed.
Lecturer: Jo Widdicombe. UK.
B.Sc. (Hons.) Environmental Science. Jo has been a beekeeper for over 30 years and a member of BIBBA for more than 25 years. He is a member of the BIBBA Committee, serving as Groups Secretary. Jo was a Seasonal Bee Inspector for 5 years and is a Bee Farmer running over 100 colonies.
Lecture: "The Principles of Bee Improvement".
"The Principles of Bee Improvement" offers a practical approach and is an attempt to lay down guidelines which are true and applicable to beekeepers whatever their local circumstances. Rather than searching the country, or the world, for the perfect bee to breed from, this talk explains how to select and improve bees from the local bee population. It explains the problem of importation, the use of natural and artificial selection, assessment of colonies and selection within a strain.
The above list will be updated when information is received.
The above information has largely been supplied by the lecturers. All lecturers have been asked to supply information on a standard format, but please remember they are all beekeepers, so do things differently! Some has had to be tweaked a little because English is not the first language of some lecturers.