BIBBA encourages the formation of local groups for the identification,
conservation and improvement of native and near native bees in any part
of the British Isles and Republic of Ireland. A local group can pool
expertise of different disciplines... bee management, record keeping,
queen rearing, equipment making, morphometry, administration, etc. More
beekeepers means there are more colonies to select material from and to
provide good quality drones, as well as maximising the number
of colonies under management, evaluation and study. Groups can
liaise with one another and with scientific institutions. They can
distribute genetic material beyond their own confines to wider circles
of beekeepers, thereby improving bees overall.
The BIBBA Bee Improvement Groups Secretary can give advice and put groups in touch with one another.
Two particularly active BIBBA groups are the Galtee Bee Breeders' Group, Ireland and the
East Midlands Group, but there are over 30 others. The menu at upper left can be expanded to
accommodate your group if you can send suitable text and images to our website editor.
Email link: email@example.com
An obvious requirement in forming a group is to find like-minded
beekeepers. Ask the BIBBA Bee Improvement Groups Secretary, or consult
the current BIBBA Year Book, for the names and addresses of BIBBA
members in your area. Contact these and any other known beekeepers near
you and invite them to meet to discuss forming a bee improvement and
breeding group. This could easily be part of an existing BKA.
improvement begins with the assessment of colony
characteristics. These can be recorded by beekeepers at each colony
inspection. We suggest you read 'Breeding Better Bees', by John E. Dews and Eric Milner, and contact our BIBBA Bee Improvement Groups
Secretary if you requirefurther specific advice. The Local Queen Programme may also be helpful.
Suggested items for discussion at an early stage are:
That the group will aim to use the Native Dark European honey bee
Apis mellifera mellifera or as close to it as available.
A survey of stocks held by group members to find if there are
suitable stocks locally for breeding purposes. In many cases existing
stocks can be greatly improved in a fairly short time.
Possible mating sites preferably offering some degree of isolation (though not essential).
Provision of queen rearing equipment such as queen rearing colonies, mating nucs, etc.
This first meeting should indicate if there is a willingness to improve
the bees in your area and the determination to form a bee improvement
group. A group can consist of as few as two like minded beekeepers.
Assuming the decision is to proceed, there may be more questions than
answers, but identifying the problems is halfway to solving them.
Bee improvement is an enjoyable extension of what many
beekeepers are already doing. The task is made easier by having others
to help you.