for the conservation, restoration, study, selection and improvement of native (Apis mellifera mellifera) and near-native honey bees of the British Isles

Beekeeping Webinars Season Four – Spring 2021

Click here for full details

zoom links will be added a week before the event

Sat 30th Jan 4pm : Roger Patterson – “Beekeeping: What’s it all about?”

This is a 1 hour presentation that gives the absolute basic information to help potential beekeepers decide if they should go further. Topics covered will include:- Time needed, costs, suitable site, sound information sources, etc.

For those who wish to take the next step, there is an all day presentation “Introduction to Beekeeping” on March 13th, that will cover more topics in greater depth more details here

Roger Patterson bio

Tue 9th Feb 5:30pm: Roger Patterson – “The coming season. Are you prepared?

Many beekeepers switch off as soon as they bed their bees down for the winter, then put their feet up, only to panic in the spring.
There is a lot to think about. What went wrong last year? How can we overcome the problems and improve next year? What can you study so you understand your bees better, so make fewer mistakes? What other management techniques can you use? Can you make your bees more productive and healthy? Can you enjoy your beekeeping more?

Tue 9th Feb 7:30pm: Jo Widdicombe – “The Basics of Bee Improvement”

Bee Improvement isn’t often taught by local BKAs, therefore the concept may be unknown to most beekeepers. This presentation will explain to beekeepers of all levels the basic principles of what we are trying to achieve.

Jo Widdicombe bio

Sat 13th Feb 4pm: Roger Patterson – “I’ve got my bees (or about to). Now what?”

Many new beekeepers are immediately confronted with problems, or what they may think are problems, soon after acquiring their bees. The level of support for new beekeepers varies a lot, depending on the resources available and the quality of them. Raw beginners often have masses of questions, but are the answers always reliable? Just because someone has kept bees longer than you, or has a flashy website, doesn’t mean they know more, but how do you know that? If you know enough to make good judgement, then you know enough not to have asked in the first place. This presentation addresses some of the issues that new beekeepers have, with some ideas on what to learn in your early stages.

Roger Patterson bio

Sat 13th Feb 7:30pm: Roger Patterson – “The Next step”


There are many beekeepers who, when they have finished their first year, are left to learn themselves. If there is no tuition locally, they often stay at the same level or seek help from sources that may be inappropriate, often taking advice from the screen. Without guidance, it is often in the second and subsequent years, when beekeepers get into trouble.
This presentation has been arranged to help that very important group with a few suggestions on how they can move to the next level

Tue 16th Feb 5:30pm: Clare Densley and Martin Hann
“Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey –Past and Present”
  • What is the Buckfast bee and why did Br Adam become so famous?
  • Was Adam the first to experiment with bee breeding?
  • Difference between bee breeding and queen rearing.
  • What inspired Br Adam to create a specific “strain “of bee put into the context of the Isle of Wight disease and the understanding of genetics at that time.
  • How did his objectives change over the years and how did he achieve these (use of isolation site etc.)?
  • Inbreeding problems which can occur with artificial selection alongside unsustainability and nasty out cross possibilities.
  • Why we don’t breed the Buckfast bee here anymore, why we prefer locally adapted bees (and how we have achieved this).

Clare Densley has been working at Buckfast Abbey since 2008. She has been keeping bees since 1992 and did do a stint as a seasonal bee inspector for a couple of years. Although she does “manage” her colonies, her philosophy centres around understanding the bees and working with their natural instincts as much as is possible.
Martin Hann has been keeping bees since 2008. He was previously a seasonal bee inspector for the South West region for 6 years and has been working alongside Clare Densley at Buckfast Abbey for the last 4 years. He has recently left the National Bee Unit to become a full time member of the Buckfast Abbey bee department.

Tue 16th Feb 7:30pm: Jo Widdicombe – “Bee Improvement – Playing your part”

The last webinar “The Basics of Bee Improvement” briefly gave the principles this webinar hopes to put into practice. We all have a part to play in improving our bees, because the quality of the bee population reflects the quality of the drones that are mating with queens. We can’t make improvement entirely on our own, we need to do it in conjunction with others, whether it be individuals, bee improvement groups or BKAs.

Sat 20th Feb 4pm: Roger Patterson – “Learn the Basics”

The learning of a few factual things will go a long way to helping you solve many of the common issues that you will experience. You may then be able to solve problems yourself, or at least have a little knowledge, so you can understand what the advice you are given is trying to achieve.

Sat 20th Feb 7:30pm: Karl Colyer – “Things I wish I’d known earlier”

In those early years of beekeeping, I made lots of mistakes and took everything that another beekeeper told me as the gospel truth. It wasn’t until I figured that the advice from different people started conflicting with each other and that the ‘foolproof’ solutions didn’t always work that I had to go back to basics and make my own decisions.
This talk touches on some of the basics as well as ways to save money, get free bees and how to end up with a beekeeping plan that works for you.

Karl Colyer has been keeping bees since 2003. He enjoys building his own hives from recycled wood where he can and is a very practical and hands-on bee breeder, bringing his engineering, quality and production experience to the fore. 
Karl has set up a not-for-profit social enterprise (www.beesinourcommunity.org.uk) which places hand-made hives and home-bred bees onto company properties, farmland as well as into individual’s back gardens. This creates a growing curiosity for bees and catalyses people to want to support them and (hopefully) keep their own. He mentors a number of new beekeepers and has a growing number of hives in Cheshire and beyond.

Tue 23 Feb 5.30pm: Lynfa Davies “Honeybee behaviour”
a look at the mechanisms bees use to manage their lives

In this talk we look at the colony cycle and why the population fluctuates throughout the year. This doesn’t happen by accident and understanding how and why it happens is important for beekeepers who want to successfully manage productive colonies. Consideration is given to why the queen’s laying rate fluctuates and the mechanisms that influence population size. Finally, what is nest homeostasis and how do the bees control it?

Lynfa Davies. Master Beekeeper, NDB lives in Aberystwyth and has kept bees with her husband, Rob, for 15 years. During this time she has worked her way through the BBKA assessments to become a Master Beekeeper and in 2019 gained the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB) which is the highest beekeeping qualification in the UK. She now enjoys sharing the information she has learned with other beekeepers and takes an active role in teaching new beekeepers in her local association and more widely across Wales. Lynfa is a regular examiner for the BBKA and WBKA and sits on the WBKA Learning and Development Committee.
Lynfa currently has approximately 25 colonies which she mainly manages for honey production, something which often proves challenging in a wet West Wales! In addition, she raises her own queens and uses these to produce nucleus colonies and to replace her own stock.

Tue 23 Feb 7.30pm: Roger Patterson “Understanding queen rearing methods”

“Queen Rearing” lectures often confuse beekeepers, so they don’t rear their own queens because they think it is complicated. “Understanding Queen Rearing Methods” will explain what the beekeeper is trying to achieve when using one of the “artificial” methods of queen rearing. All we are doing is to help the bees produce queen cells in a controlled way, that makes it easier for the beekeeper to manage. The presentation will be given in a step-by-step manner that is easy to understand, in the hope that it encourages beekeepers to produce their own queens.

Sat 27th Feb 4pm: Roger Patterson – “My Second Colony”

Beekeepers are often advised to have a second colony quite quickly, to help the first if there is a problem. This is sound advice, but where do you get a second colony if you don’t have the knowledge to make one yourself? The usual answer is to buy one, but this may be headed by an imported queen that may have problems the National Bee Improvement Programme (NatBIP) is trying to address. This presentation shows some simple ways of acquiring a second colony and how to care for it, that will provide a good learning opportunity for the new beekeeper.

Sat 27th Feb 7.30pm: Roger Patterson – “Where are bees kept?”

This presentation takes a look at different apiaries, mainly at home with a few abroad. It gives advice on siting hives and comments on the various issues raised. The content is changed regularly, so if you think you have seen it before, you may not have done.

Tue 2nd Mar 5.30pm: Lynne Ingram “Comb honey – a natural hive product”

Comb honey is the ultimate ‘natural product’ which has become an almost forgotten aspect of beekeeping.  However, as the consumer demands more natural and unprocessed products, the demand for comb honey is increasing. This talk will look at preparing your colonies, and the different ways of producing and presenting comb honey.

Lynne Ingram has kept bees for over 30 years, and runs 25 – 30 colonies in Somerset. She is a Master beekeeper, an examiner for the modules, the Basic, General Husbandry, Bee Health and Microscopy assessments. Lynne is heavily involved in educating beekeepers in Somerset, now running study groups via Zoom, and curating the popular Somerset Lockdown Lecture series.

Tue 2nd Mar 7.30pm: Roger Patterson “Bee Improvement. How I did it”

Following a spell out of active beekeeping for family and business reasons, on my return I soon discovered the bees in my area had degenerated from gentle bees that suited my district to yellowish stingy mongrels that were very unpleasant to handle. This was caused by a local beekeeper who imported queens from Australia and New Zealand and selling them cheaply.
Rather than requeening from outside stock, I raised queens from the better colonies to replace the queens in the poorer colonies. I have basically used the same simple techniques ever since. This presentation is the story of what I have achieved.

Sat 6th Mar 7.30pm: Bee Inspector (TBA) The Bee Inspection Service & how it works”

details to be confirmed

Tue 9th Mar 5.30pm: Roger Patterson “Dave Cushman. A man and his website”

Dave Cushman was in poor health in the last few years of his life and unable to work, so he spent much of his time building and maintaining what is considered to be the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping website. It is so good that it is accessed by beekeepers of all abilities throughout the world, apparently scientists too. Dave left it to me in his will and I continue to enhance and maintain it in the same way that he did.
This presentation was prepared in response to a request to deliver it as the Dave Cushman Memorial Lecture at FIBKAs summer school at Gormanston in 2014.

Tue 9th Mar 7.30pm: Keith Pierce: “Breeding and improving our native bee.
A pragmatic approach, even if you are surrounded by non-native bees

My queens are naturally open mated, but I have been flooding the vicinity of my apiary with drones from my own native dark bees.  Each year I over-winter more colonies of bees than I need, keeping only the best and requeening those that do not come up to my criteria. My selection programme is based on the ability of my bees to overwinter strongly, together with disease resistance, docility, productivity, colour and more. 
For this talk, I will explain how I am still able to selectively rear quality queens of our dark native bee, despite having some neighbours who are not all using native bees. 

Keith Pierce has been beekeeping for more than 30 years, selectively rearing dark native Irish honey bees Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm). 
Keith’s 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. 

Sat 13th Mar 9.30-5.00: Roger Patterson “Introduction to Beekeeping” All Day

The presentation is based on a successful one day event that has been running for 15 years. This covers everything potential beekeepers need to know in order to decide if beekeeping is for them and to take the next step. It doesn’t teach enough for people to start, but it encourages attendees to contact their local BKA, where they can learn more.
The day will be split into sections with adequate breaks.
There is a modest cost of £15

more details and book on Eventbrite here

Sat 13th Mar 7.30pm: Pete Sutcliffe “Beekeeping kit you don’t need”

Some of you might share my fascination with gadgets that will supposedly help us keep bees. Sadly, most of these are a waste of time and money. Some of them were perhaps worth a try, some the product of genius and some the product of lunacy, and some the product of someone wanting to make money out of gullible beekeepers.
This talk should save you money and time by sparing you the effort of proving to yourself that you didn’t need to buy a particular article. While we are at it, we might stray onto one or two items that are worth getting!

Pete Sutcliffe has been keeping bees for over thirty years now, having started out with two home-made WBCs inherited from his father. He now works in a beekeeping team with his wife: together they keep an average of 20 colonies on various sites in the Dane Valley in Cheshire.
Following his retirement, Pete put himself through the various BBKA examinations and eventually achieved the accolade of “Master Beekeeper”. He is still rather diffident about this title, as the bees seem to be the masters a lot of the time!
Pete was a member of the BBKA Examinations Board, a BBKA Trustee and chair of the BBKA’s Education and Husbandry Committee. He is a BBKA Correspondence Course Tutor, a Basic and General Husbandry Assessor, and he has set and marked Module examinations.
Pete has also been active within Cheshire BKA,: having held various offices at County and Branch level, and is now Chairperson of Cheshire BKA.

Tue 16th Mar 5.30pm: Lynfa Davies “Drones – their role in the colony”

Drones get a bit of a hard time and we often think of them being a drain on resources. But their role is absolutely crucial for the future of our beekeeping operations and so we mustn’t overlook them. As well as their important genetic contribution drones provide a coherence to the colony and their presence tells us much about the state and strength of the colony. Hopefully you’ll think a bit differently about them after this and value their contribution.

Tue 16th Mar 7.30pm: Kevin Thorn “Working Together to Improve Local Stock”

Kevin Thorn is the coordinator of the Abberton Native Bee Project in Essex, where a group has been established with the aim of reintroducing the native honey bee to the area.
The group works with Colchester BKA, Essex and Suffolk Water and Essex Wildlife Trust and has been operating for nearly 4 years.
As an example of an established bee improvement group, Kevin will talk about his experiences of establishing the group, raising funds, working as a team and with minimal administration. He will also talk about some of the key lessons the group has learned along the way.

Kevin Thorn is a bee-farmer with 100 colonies in South West Suffolk, where he works with locally adapted bees and is passionate about improving these to be calm and productive. Kevin is the coordinator of the Abberton Native Bee Project in Essex. where a group has been established with the aim of reintroducing the native honey bee to the area.

Sat 20th Mar 4.00pm: Roger Patterson “Swarming
What Swarm Prevention and Control Methods are Trying to Achieve

Many beekeepers panic when they see queen cells, probably because they don’t understand what is happening in a colony when it is preparing to swarm, or when it has. Some blindly follow “the book” on what to do, without understanding what the selected method is trying to achieve. This presentation will discuss a little about the history of some swarm control theories and the process in a colony, but relevant to some of the more common methods of swarm control.

Sat 20th Mar 7.30pm: Roger Patterson “Modest colony increase”

Small scale beekeepers only wish to make a small number of extra colonies, perhaps to increase the size of their apiary by a colony or two, to replace losses or for a management reason. Colony increase isn’t often taught by BKAs for some reason, so smaller beekeepers often buy extra colonies. Even if you only have one colony, there is never any need to buy bees or queens again. There are a few trip-wires to avoid, but they should be learnt by all beekeepers anyway. Methods will be discussed that will suit the average beekeeper. This may suit local BKA teachers, so they can pass ideas on to their members.

Tue 23rd Mar 5.30pm: Tony Jefferson “Heather Honey production”

The North East Yorkshire Heather Moors are abundant in Ling heather during August. The heather honey is a prized and high value product, so why spend 50 weeks of the year working for 2 weeks of good weather in August?

Tony will explain with this window being so short and unpredictable, how the bees have to be set up correctly to maximize the crop.
From the spring onwards colonies are operated to concentrate on producing bees. How to operate hives without Queen Excluders or as Tony refers to them “Queen restrictors or Honey Excluders”.
The development of local black bees and manipulation of brood through the “June gap” to maximize foraging bees for August, then setting up strong colonies prior and just before moving will be discussed. Experience with moving colonies and what to do when things go wrong will be shared, leading onto what to do with them whilst they are on the moors, how to bring them back home safely and sort out the (hopefully) prized product. Then setting the colonies up for the winter.
His first recollections go back to the late 60’s are of venturing out to the heather stance transporting 5 nationals in a Mini Saloon,(yes it is possible but probably illegal now). Things have moved on since Tony applied his engineering skills to make moving bees a simple and stress free experience.

Tony Jefferson is the middle of 3 generations of Jefferson beekeepers, he describes his beekeeping as, “a hobby that got out of control a long time ago”. Up to 150 colonies have been managed between Father Allan, Tony and Nephew Richard in the weather challenged North East coast around the Whitby area. Tony now heads up the empire, whilst still working full time as a high voltage engineer. Through many years of practical observations, using WBC hives for winter, limited use of queen excluders, use of brood and half, glass quilts and own design of floors, all based on simple techniques. The beekeeping practice is all based around 2 weeks of good weather in August for the prized heather crop. Bee breeding and active selection of drones as opposed to queen rearing is his passion, especially concentrating on the progression of the black local bee

Tue 23rd Mar 7.30pm: Roger Patterson “BKAs – How they can help improve the nation’s bees”

Beekeeping Associations are important parts of the beekeeping community, although they probably don’t always realise how they can influence the standards of bees and beekeepers in their own catchment areas. Much of beekeeping teaching is performed by local BKAs, both theoretical and practical. The former can be done by courses, the latter by practical demonstrations in teaching apiaries. What is taught and how it is taught can make a great difference to the knowledge and skills of beekeepers locally. Teaching apiaries are great for showing members how good bees can be, with the opportunity of helping members to produce their own bees and queens.

Sat 27th Mar 4.00pm: Roger Patterson “Some Simple Things You May Not Have Been Told”

Some modern teaching is done by rather inexperienced people, who teach “mainstream thinking” from books or training material, rather than from their own experience. That may leave a lot of gaps that the new beekeeper has to fill themselves. This presentation discusses some of these that will help the beekeeper in their early years.

Sat 27th Mar 7.30pm: Roger Patterson “Observation. Interpret what you see”

Lateral thinking and observation are two of the most valuable assets a beekeeper can possess. There are many things an observant beekeeper will spot during a colony inspection that others will miss. This ability does come with experience, but the key is to know what is normal, so you can spot something different. A colony of bees is telling you something all the time. The best teachers of beekeeping have 6 legs and 4 wings, not two legs and no wings. Good beekeepers are able to interpret what the bees are telling them and what may happen in 2, 5 or 10 days time.

Tue 30th Mar 5.30pm: Pete Sutcliffe “The hive as a processing centre”

“A hive of activity” as the saying goes! To ensure the colony survives in a healthy state, honey bees collect everything they need from the surrounding area in the form of relatively simple, readily available, natural products. They then process these in sophisticated ways into such diverse items as building materials, miracle foods, antiseptic paints, and store them where necessary for future use. The abilities required for these processes have evolved over millennia to a level of amazing sophistication, but how do they do it? This lecture will describe those processes in a way that helps beekeepers understand the requirements of their colonies better.

Tue 30th Mar 7.30pm: Jonathan Getty “Raising queens and the use of mini nucs”

Many beekeepers have failures when using mini nucs, even though they have rigidly followed the advice that is freely given, often by those who have little experience of using them. There are successful users of mininucs, mainly because they have discovered the usual advice given is flawed. Jonathan Getty uses around 200 Apideas to raise 4-500 queens each year, so he is well qualified to tell us how we can use them successfully by following his methods.

Jonathan Getty is current chair of the Belfast & District branch of the Ulster Beekeepers Association, which has over 250 members. He 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. He started up the Belfast Minnowburn queen rearing group in 2012 and is currently involved with a new queen rearing group in Co. Tyrone, which started up in 2020. He manages over 100 colonies of his own, spread over about a dozen apiary sites in NI. He also rears between 400-500 queens per season using 200 Apideas. Jonathan holds a BSc Hons in Psychology from Queens University Belfast and gained a postgraduate teaching qualification at Stranmillis Training College. He is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Sat 3rd Apr 4.00pm: Roger Patterson –  “Some Things I Need to Be Aware of”

This follows on from “Some Simple Things You May Not Have Been Told”, because in beekeeping there are a lot of things that are stumbled upon as beekeepers progress in the craft, that more experienced beekeepers are aware of and assume that everyone knows

Sat 3rd Apr 7.30pm: Roger Patterson – “Queen cells. Their recognition and uses”  

Beekeepers often decide what type of queen cells they have in their colonies by where they are placed on the comb, because that is what they are taught or read in books. This can be very unreliable, resulting in the wrong action being taken, often leaving the colony hopelessly queenless. There will be some clear guidance on what to look for, so colonies can be managed accordingly. There will be tips on how to use queen cells.

Tue 6th Apr 7.30pm: Roger Patterson – “Bee Improvement in a Group – Some Ideas”

Bee Improvement Groups are easy to set up and run, but there may be many different circumstances. Are they one or more individuals? Are they part of a BKA? Are they formally constituted? Are they simply an adhoc group of interested beekeepers? Do they have sufficient knowledge within, or do they need help? Do they have a site, or use an existing one? Is there local opposition? These and other questions will be addressed in this presentation that will be aimed at all beekeepers, whatever their level of expertise. In a group situation, even the least experienced beekeepers can play a part, as well as learn a lot from others.

Sat 10th Apr 4.00pm: Roger Patterson –  “Keeping a Colony Alive”

Colony losses occur during both summer and winter and at a higher rate than they should. A loss of a colony isn’t just something to be easily accepted, but a queen that could be good, a colony of bees, probably considerable stores and next years crop. It is annoying for an experienced beekeeper, probably more so for a beginner, who may not know the reason. Many losses are the fault of the beekeeper, although some will deny it. This presentation covers the major colony losses and gives advice on how they may be reduced.

Sat 10th Apr 7.30pm: Roger Patterson – “Beekeeping. Challenge What you are told”

In beekeeping, there are a lot of people who are keen to give advice, whether it is verbally or the written word in the form of books, leaflets, newsletters or the computer screen. There are a lot of myths and misinformation, often “cut and pasted” from other sources, which may simply be copying someone else’s mistake, who copied someone else’s mistake and so on. The same thing is then seen in different places and because it’s in print it’s believed to be correct, but is it? Inexperienced beekeepers may have difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff, but the more experienced a beekeeper gets, the more they realise that some of what they have been told, sometimes quite forcibly, may have an alternative. This presentation highlights a few topics that may not always be as we are told. It doesn’t rubbish the “standard information”, but gives experiences that have been acquired during over half a century of practical beekeeping.

Tue 13th April 7.30pm: John Chambers:  “Four incompatible approaches to bee improvement”

For over a century, some beekeepers have manipulated the genetic composition of their stock, believing the resultant colonies superior to those derived from local open mating. Such “bee improvement” is essentially anthropocentric.
Excluding importation of alien subspecies, there are four extreme bee improvement methods, all others being lesser variants. Each used the scientific understanding of its day to address a different contemporary challenge. The first three approaches chronologically produced the Buckfast bee; local strains of “village” bee; and the Midnight and Starline hybrid bees. Each approach had its own big-name champion and its own enthusiasts. The techniques behind each approach altered honey bee colony genetics in strikingly different ways. Whilst each approach arguably met its strategic goal, the supposed benefits seen in Buckfast, Midnite and Starline honey bee colonies rapidly and predictably transformed into serious problems in subsequent generations. Likewise, the desired features of any “village” bee strain could only be perpetuated in a closed population and such strains always carried the potential of becoming too inbred after several generations.
“Darwinian beekeeping” is a new bee improvement approach that has yet another dramatic impact on the honey bee colony genetics. Some might consider it extreme whereas others are likely to consider it totally natural. How could it fare? This presentation considers all four bee improvement approaches and concludes that they are incompatible with each other.

John Chambers currently maintains about 20 colonies. When starting with locally-caught swarms, he was struck by their diverse behaviours. A busy town-living professional with children, he loves how his bees immediately draw him into the vibrant ecological network on his doorstep. He attempts to interpret rather than inspect, believing observant beekeepers can predict what they will find next time with reasonable accuracy. He does not feed his colonies during nectar dearth and is frugal with syrup after the honey harvest. Likewise, believing angry, weak or underproductive colonies to be so for reasons that have no place in his apiary, he does not spare the queens or unite such colonies. He rears more queens than required and chooses which of these to keep. By these means, he believes that he is developing a frugal, gentle, hardy and productive survivor stock that overwinters well.

Sat 17th Apr 4.00pm: Roger Patterson –  “Are you confused? Your Questions Answered”

As a beginner, you may have gathered all the information you possibly can. This could be from other beekeepers, teachers, mentors, demonstrators, lectures, YouTube, forums, books and other printed matter, etc. You have done it because you are probably keen, enthusiastic and want to do well. As most beginners do, you have probably found the information conflicts. There could be many reasons for this including a different climate, different kinds of bees, different hives, etc.
In this session questions can be asked and answered in a relaxed manner, thoroughly and appropriate to your own circumstances.

Sat 17th Apr 7.30pm: Roger Patterson – “Some management techniques we all need”

To manage bees with care and efficiency every beekeeper needs to develop their own system. Initially they will probably closely copy their tutor. When they have gained more knowledge and experience they will probably modify their system to suit their own circumstances. In beekeeping, there are often many ways of achieving the same thing. They may all work, but in different circumstances. The important thing is to bring ideas together to make your system work well for you and your bees.
Good beekeepers understand bees, have open minds and are capable of lateral thinking. This allows them to assess what they have been told and shown or have thought about themselves, so they can decide if the possible changes will be an improvement or not.
This presentation will discuss some simple management techniques that we all need to perform at various times. They have been learnt from watching bees and beekeepers for over half a century. They may not be found in books and may not fit your system, but with a little tweaking, they may be suitable. This is how we learn and develop our own management systems to help improve our standard of beekeeping.

Tue 20th Apr 7.30pm: Tony Jefferson – “Never Waste a Queen Cell”

Far too much emphasis is placed upon queen rearing and not on the wider aspects of bee breeding, such as the selection of quality breeding stock. Bees have far more years experience producing good quality queen cells then we have, so why not keep things simple and let them produce their own queen cells? The talk will discuss the importance of positive selection of breeding stock, primarily drones, consider that during the summer months every beekeeper destroys many good quality cells in their efforts to control swarming, not having equipment to utilize the spare cells.
Hopefully it will lead to questioning why it is perceived as difficult to produce queens.
The main issue is how to use surplus queen cells, get the queens mated/laying, evaluating them for performance, then deciding how/which ones to use to build up into productive colonies.
This talk will explain in simple and practical methods how to select good quality breeding stock, the use of simple non specialist equipment that does not rely on keeping to dates/timetables, the difficulty on the NE coast due to unpredictable weather in the key breeding time in May

Tony Jefferson is the middle of 3 generations of Jefferson beekeepers, he describes his beekeeping as, “a hobby that got out of control a long time ago”. Up to 150 colonies have been managed between Father Allan, Tony and Nephew Richard in the weather challenged North East coast around the Whitby area. Tony now heads up the empire, whilst still working full time as a high voltage engineer. Through many years of practical observations, using WBC hives for winter, limited use of queen excluders, use of brood and half, glass quilts and own design of floors, all based on simple techniques. The beekeeping practice is all based around 2 weeks of good weather in August for the prized heather crop. Bee breeding and active selection of drones as opposed to queen rearing is his passion, especially concentrating on the progression of the black local bee

Sat 24th Apr 4.00pm: Roger Patterson –  “Are you still confused? More Questions Answered – if you need them

We will try to answer as many questions as we can in the first session, but this second session will be an overflow if required.

Sat 24th Apr 7.30pm:   Roger Patterson – “Collecting, hiving and caring for swarms”

New beekeepers are often keen to get on a local swarm collecting list. It is often to get free bees when they start, but have they had adequate tuition from their BKA? Swarm collection is an important service provided by BKAs to the general public, so it is important those who collect swarms are competent. All experienced swarm collectors have stories to tell about some of the difficulties they have encountered, that may be difficult for the inexperienced to deal with.
Under discussion will be suggestions on what to ask during the initial call, what equipment to take and some of the situations you may be confronted with when you arrive. Having collected the swarm, there will be suggestions on hiving it and subsequent management.

Tue 27th Apr 7.30pm: Eoghan MacGiollacoda – “Bee Farming with native/near native bees”

details to follow

Tue 4th May 7.30pm: Roger Patterson – “The teaching apiary. A brilliant resource”

A well organised teaching apiary is probably the greatest teaching resource a BKA can have. It can be used to invite non-beekeepers as a sort of open event, so they can see what is involved in the craft. For beekeepers, it can be used for teaching all levels, right from new beekeepers to the most experienced, with all the usual techniques demonstrated. If the apiary is stocked with good local bees it will show members how good bees can be, perhaps with a queen rearing element. This presentation is based on one successful teaching apiary and information gleaned from many others. It is a “must see” for all!

BIBBA Monthly News

Overwintering nucs. The bees are very quiet inside. The upper box is full of stores.

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A Proposal for a
National Honey Bee Improvement Programme
There are concerns by beekeepers of all levels about the dangers of the ever-increasing queen and bee imports into the U.K. These have increased fivefold between 2011 and 2019. As well as the risk of bringing in pests and diseases, imported bees have been shown to be less well-equipped for survival in our climate and conditions. In addition, continuous hybridisation of sub-species makes the selection and improvement of our stock more difficult.
BIBBA has developed a strategy document titled “National Bee Improvement Programme” and is soliciting interest, support and feedback from other stakeholder organisations, groups and beekeepers for a national approach to selecting and improving a locally adapted bee population. The aim is to reduce the health risks posed by imports whilst at the same time improving the quality of our bees for everyone ...
Read More

What does BIBBA Offer?

  • Encouragement to form breeding groups to improve and propagate native and near native queens.
  • Help for beekeepers to improve their bees so they suit their environment, are productive, healthy and gentle to handle.
  • Encouragement to raise queens from local stock.
  • Provision of relevant information and methods.
  • Demonstrations and workshops on practical subjects, such as colony assessment and queen rearing.
  • Publications and guidance on all aspects of bee improvement and queen rearing.
  • Support projects in areas with a high level of native bees.
  • Courses on bee improvement and raising queens, using both natural methods the bees present us with that will suit the ordinary beekeeper, and more advanced methods for those who need more queens.

Members can download a copy of
‘The Honeybees of the British Isles’