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Gormanston Summer School 2008

 Federation Of Irish Beekeeper's Associations 

Gormanston Castle, Photo... Chris Slade

Federation of Irish Beekeeper's Association's annual Gormanston Summer School, a report with pictures, of the events, meetings, lectures and social gatherings of the event that took place in 2008.

A change for 2008... You will notice on the brochure for the 2008 event, a note saying... tea and coffee at 10.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. each day being included in the fees. This has been brought in as the queuing for coffee or tea and paying for it was causing long delays. As a result FIBKA in consultation with the college decided to include the price in the terms. The college will lay out the coffee and tea on the tables in the downstairs (basement) area. This should help to speed things up and reduce congestion between lectures.

A note about currency... Ireland uses the Euro and travellers from foreign lands are advised to obtain some Euros before arriving as they will be needed for bus, train and taxi services to get you to the college. On arrival at the college a deposit of €22 is required by the college when obtaining your room or dormitory key, €20 of this is refundable on returning the key when you leave.

Those intending to gain their preliminary certificate at this event can download and print the syllabus.

Once again the corridors of Gormanston college echoed to the sound of the Heidelberg shuffle as I traversed the long walk through the east wing.

Sunday 20th July

John, Graham, Brenda and Dave, photo... Dave Cushman 2008 marks my ninth consecutive visit to Gormanston Summer School and this year I had the opportunity to travel by road and ferry, as a colleague from Leicester & Rutland BKA, John Clarke offered me a lift. John is pictured at right along with myself and two other L&RBKA members. I gratefully accepted the transport offer as it gave me the opportunity to write a page about the journey itself, that will be eventually added to the section of this website that deals with travelling to Gormanston.

Our ferry docked at the 'North Wall' and we were soon on our way to Gormanston via the new tunnel that has transformed travel around Dublin, the timing of the ferry meant that we would miss the evening meal at the College, so our first port of call was the Cock Tavern.

The Irish are hospitable people and I was pleased that not only did the barman remember me from previous years, he also remembered that I drink bottled Guinness and the fact that I like it from the fridge rather than from the shelf, he was quite apologetic that he had to serve me a 'warm one' as the fridge proved to be empty. My travelling companion and I then demolished most of a mixed grill apiece, although in truth, one between the two of us would have been ample to satiate our appetites.

After this pleasant little interlude we travelled the short distance to the college to get our room keys and identity badges... This year including a photograph as the elderly Polaroid camera had been repaired. I was allotted a berth on the Siberia corridor and this year had the benefit of a duvet instead of blankets.

Monday 21st July

The piper leading the officials I was up early, the night had been quite cold and the bees in the observation hive that is situated on the bottom corridor, were quite solidly clustered.

The morning and afternoon are the times that the majority of the attendees arrive and there are no scheduled events or lectures. I spent the time 'meeting and greeting' various people that I only get to see infrequently.

As part of my dosing calculations for the insulin I take as a diabetic, I record my food intake at mealtimes and will indicate what I selected myself (there are usually two choices of hot food and also a salad option). All my breakfasts consisted of a bowl of cornflakes, two classes of orange juice and three cups of milk. Monday lunch for me was a bowl of soup, a cheeseburger and a bowl of chips. The evening meal consisted of soup, beef stir fry and a bowl of chips.

The first official activity is the opening ceremony, which is performed by a variety of Minsters and Government officials that are more approachable in Ireland than their UK counterparts. The party of officials was piped in by Dennis Ryan, who was to become the new president of FIBKA, the opening ceremony being presided over by the outgoing president, Graham Hall.

A number of lecturers were unable to make it due to illness or illnesses in their family, speedy recovery was wished for all concerned and necessary changes made to the programme.

A cheese and wine session followed the opening ceremony, after which most of us headed for the two pubs down at the crossroads. I have a preference for the Cock Tavern and we were joined by Sue, who was introduced to the chilled variety of bottled Guinness. Sue Lecturing

Tuesday 22nd July

There ae three lecture streams covering beginner, intermediate and advanced grades. In addition there are a number of workshops at which you can get 'hands on' practical instruction, it can be quite hard to decide which to attend. I had a few people to see and errands to complete so it was not until 11 am that I got to my first lecture, which was Sue Cobey's entitled 'queen rearing'. Queen rearing is a subject that is being pushed quite hard at the moment in order to stem the tide of exotic imports, with the subsequent risk of importing disease or parasites. Sue's presentation stressed the value of working with locally available material and the stability that comes with large numbers within the breeding population.

The advanced stream of lectures was delivered this year from a newly re-furbished assembly hall that has comfortable padded seats, a welcome improvement!

Tuesday lunch was a somewhat uninteresting hot dog, plus bowls of chips and soup.

I was busy on other matters for the early part of the afternoon, but I made it to Sue's lecture on basic bee genetics.

After a meal of soup plus beef and chips we had two meetings to attend the first of these being a meeting of BIBBA members which was accompanied by a shot of very pleasant tasting mead. The second was an introductory session for those that had travelled from foreign parts, the longest journey being a young lady from Melbourne Australia. We then went down to the pub.

Wednesday 23rd July

Norman and June with the cup After breakfast I had a number of people to see and took the opportunity to pay my course fees, book for next year and pay my subs to 'An Beachaire', so after a cup of coffee in the basement I was able to go to Sue Cobey's lecture about the importance of genetic diversity.

The group photo is always scheduled for just before Wednesday lunch.

Lunch consisted of chicken goujons, soup and chips and was very similar to the one that Simon Rees photographed last year.

1.30 saw me at the presentation of the honey show prizes, the photo at right shows Norman and June Hughes and the large trophy that June received for her tallow candles and raw beeswax candles exhibit. After the presentation I had a look around the honey show itself, then spent some time with Ben Harden in his equipment shop, I had a can of coke from the shop in the basement and cheated on my diabetes with a packet of wine gums.

June's prize winning candle entry Sue's afternoon lecture was entitled 'Breeding and selection Methods', this lecture pleased me very much as it was almost word for word identical to a lecture that I myself get to deliver on occasions.

A small interval while we ate soup, minute steaks and chips and we were back again in the assembly hall for the 'open lecture', which, as the title intimates, is available to the general public. This years's lecture was delivered by beekeeping optician Sam Baird with the title seeing bees better, we all know that many beekeepers have difficulty seeing eggs and Sam gave many instances of optical gadgets and lamps that will aid the process. I enjoyed it, even though he did not understand the difference between an LED (Light Emitting Diode) and an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display).

We rounded off Wednesday by visiting the Cock Tavern and having a few bottles of Guinness.

Thursday 24th July

Many of you will be aware that I am interested in promoting Instrumental Insemination as an additional tool in the bee breeder's toolbox, Sue is recognised worldwide as a very good practitioner and promoter of II techniques, so on Thursday morning we had a little extra curricular gathering to discuss techniques and methods, A similar gathering had been planned some years previously when Sue visited the BBKA Spring Convention in UK, but some sought to make political profit by it and it fell through.

A chicken burger in a bap with soup and chips was my choice for lunch and I spent a leisurely afternoon reading, while the bulk of the attendees went on a coach trip. Some very tasty pork laced with plenty of gravy along with the obligatory soup and chip was my evening meal.

Since Dan Deasy died an extra event has been slotted into the Summer course programme, in the form of the Dan Deasy Memorial Lecture... This year the subject was bumble bees and solitary bees, ably delivered by Trinity College's Mark Brown.

Friday 25th July

The only lecture I attended in the morning was Sue Cobey's 11.00 am slot covering the performance and testing of instrumentally inseminated queens.

Lunch was fish and chips, along with a bowl of soup.

The last lecture in the advanced stream was a running of Sue Cobey's latest DVD showing how simple Instrumental Insemination really is, once you become skilled and practiced.

Tom during lecturship presentation In the evening after a meal consisting of sliced beef, again with plenty of gravy along with the soup and chips was consumed, there was the lectureship examination of Tom Prendergast, who passed, and we can expect to see him included in future Gormanston Summer School Programmes.

Saturday 26th July

There not being a second lectureship examination that would have taken place in the early part of the morning, the closing ceremony and presentation of certificates was the only event left.

Candidates in the various examinations that are conducted, both at Gormanston and other locations throughout the year, were presented with their certificates by Dr Breandán O'Cochláin who is the FIBKA education officer.

A review of the course was given by the convener Michael Woulfe and a few other presentations made, the last thing being the announcement of the Lecturer and dates of the 2009 Summer course.

The course proper being closed all that was left was the final lunch (a chicken burger) and the departure of attendees. As I was travelling with my friend and our ferry was not until the 9.00 in evening, there was no hurry so we decided to look for a place to visit on our way to the docks. Rose garden at Ardgillan Castle We went to a public park just north of Skerries Ardgillan Castle, the weather was hot and sunny and the gardens of the castle had magnificent views out to sea. After spending a couple of hours there we meandered leisurely down the coast calling at Skerries for an ice cream cornet and ending up around six O'clock in the Chinese quarter of Dublin so we had meal of sweet and sour pork, washed down by a couple of beers. We continued towards the docks with plenty of time to spare. Entering the docks and boarding the ferry are, these days, very uncluttered and uneventful proceedings, we found some comfortable reclining seats and waited for our arrival at Hollyhead. I finally got home at about six am on the Sunday.

Next Year

Celia Davis at BIBBA conference 2006, Photo... Sandra Unwin The 2009 Gormanston Summer School will be starting on Monday July 20th and runs to Saturday July 25th, when the guest lecturer will be Celia Davis. Sue Cobey is a hard act to follow, but Celia will keep everybody on the edge of their seats in just the same way.

For brochure, booking and details of bed and breakfast accommodation available local to Gormanston write to:- Michael Woulfe.

A booking form will be provided on this website (see Latest Reservation form link at top of page) when the details are known.

Michael Woulfe Michael Woulfe,
Railway House, Midleton,
Co. Cork. Eire.
or phone 00353-(0)21-631011.

Email Contact can be made via...
Eddie O'Sullivan
Eddie O'Sullivan

With increasing numbers attending and the rooms having been upgraded to higher standards, there are fewer beds available than there was before. You are advised to book early (now is not too soon) Send a deposit of €50 or more to Michael to ensure your place. I made my deposit for 2009 before I left and I know a great many others did so to be certain of their place next year.

A Few pictures of the 2008 gathering...

Apologies are made for graininess and poor colouration of some of these images, I used natural light to avoid attracting attention to the fact that I was using the camera.

Sue and Terry inspecting A. m. mellifera bees, Photo... John Burgess A drop of mead at the BIBBA meeting, Photo... John Burgess
By golly ! that tastes good Chatting on the 'boat' Micheál Mac addressing BIBBA meeting, Photo... John Burgess
Wing projection morphometry method Staff at serving hatch in the basement coffee area Sue lecturing
Another night at the Cock, Photo... John Burgess
Martin and Sandra Sue and Meg
Sue, Terry and Axel, Photo... John Burgess Opening ceremony, Photo... John Burgess
Group Photo, Photo... John Burgess
Arne and Martin Group in Cock Tavern, photo... John Burgess
Sue pouring the delicious black liquid John and Richie enjoying themselves
computer scanning of wings chatting in the basement coffee area chatting in thefoyer
Chris feeling the srtrain Honey Show prizes awaiting presentation
Lectureship Audience gathering Mark Brown on bumble bees
View out to sea from Ardgillan Castle
Brian John, Sue and Meg
Clive 2008 Lectureship Audience Sandra in the pub
Ruary filming Sue's last Lecture Sue's last Lecture

Printed from Dave Cushman's website Live CD version