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John Harding Queen Rearing

[…]the brood There will be a natural cycle of empty combs from the central box being replaced with combs of unsealed larvae. The empty combs will be laid in by the queens and will provide frames of unsealed larvae again. Combs can be interchanged with those from other colonies in the apiary The towers can be built up quickly by […]

Honey bee origins, evolution & diversity – Ashleigh Milner

[…]to 350 parts in 1990. The increase up to 1950 was attributed partly to deforestation and partly to combustion of fuels, mainly coal. The increase since 1950 is thought to be due almost entirely to the combustion of fuels. Methane, another “greenhouse gas” has also shown a significant increase, although the concentration of this gas is much lower. Another and […]
Read more » Honey bee origins, evolution & diversity – Ashleigh Milner

BIM 49 – Spring 2017

[…]pollen [and the adhering bees]. If the nuc is to remain in the apiary, shake in bees from two more combs. Close up the combs in the original colony and replace the removed combs with frames of comb or foundation. After 24 hours, feed with weak syrup (1 lb sugar in 1 pint water) – feeding immediately might incite robbing. […]

Webinars – Summary

Recordings of the majority of webinars are also available on our YouTube Channel Don’t forget to sign up here, for free, to learn more about our future […]

Find, Mark & Clip the Queen

[…]One becomes familiar with the sort of places where a queen might hide, such as depressions in the comb or spaces between the comb and the sidebars or the bottom bars. Some queens have a habit of remaining motionless in a comb crevice for quite a while. If the queen has not been found after the first run through the […]

“Bee Improvement for All” (BIFA) Days

[…]be of interest to all beekeepers and for a number of reasons including temper, quietness on the combs and suitability to the locality. The queen is an important factor in the characteristics of a colony, so colony assessment and queen selection need more attention than many beekeepers give them. This does mean rearing queens, but the bees give us many […]

Jutland Visit

[…]were destined to re-queen the honey colonies. We saw how all the colonies had been put on new comb the previous autumn and had been fed and were still being fed with inverted syrup, each colony having a full kilogram of apifondant to stimulate brood production. In Denmark, there will be no honey flow for another six weeks and feeding […]

Laesoe 2004

[…]2 and 3 will give an idea of the extreme docility, non-jumpiness and steadiness of the bees on the comb. It was the same in Sweden 2000 and Poland 2002; and yet we still see the dark bee castigated for its bad temper! Cool-air clustering for heat conservation, a well-known Dark Bee character, was also demonstrated (Fig. 3). In a […]

A Native Dark Bee Project

[…]– Timing of harvesting and hive selection was donor dependant. Where available, one piece of comb containing eggs and young larvae was cut from the colony using a scalpel. Comb blocks of roughly 2x3inches were cut from a central brood frame from between 2-4 populous hives at the source apiaries. Sections contained eggs and young larvae but often brood of […]

Colony Assessment Criteria

[…]following:- Temper. This in my view should be at the top of everyone’s list. Calmness on the comb. This is also known as “running”, although the terminology suggests they are opposites Prolificacy. Many don’t consider this to be very important, but I certainly do. I suggest you decide if you want prolific or non – prolific bees and what size […]

Leek and Moorlands – ST9

  Leek and Moorlands Beekeepers have been raising queens for over 30 years and welcome beekeepers of all levels of experience. Plans In 2018 we used the Miller method for cell raising, and grafed larvae and also used the Jenter  system..  We used Apidea mini-nucs for mating.  We also trained 4 members in instrumental insemination. Further Info You can see full […]

BBOBI Group – March April 2019 Newsletter

[…](Arnia) Bee Tradex at Stoneleigh Park, shopping opportunity and change to catch Jo Widdicombe speak on raising his AMM bees. Spring convention, really needs a separate report, but standout speakers include: Prof Maria Bouga talking about the certification of Queen quality in Greece Dr Kirsten Traynor explaining her research on pesticides Dr Samuel Ramsey covering both Varroa and Tropilaelaps mites Next […]

Michael Maunsell “The Drone – More to its life than we may think?”

[…]drones to our honey bee colonies. What governs the number of drones in a colony? Is it the drone comb, the season, the forage or stores, etc? How do the numbers or ratios work out? How do relationships inside the hive affect drone numbers? Workers can only produce drone offspring if hopelessly queen less, but do they produce drones in […]
Read more » Michael Maunsell “The Drone – More to its life than we may think?”

Some history of the East Midlands group

[…]with its strength. At the end of each season, all that will be required is to scrape the wax comb off, back to the plastic foundation. In his laboratory at Sheffield Dr. Ratnieks has set up a DNA testing facility, and one of our members (Angus Stokes) who was studying under Dr. Ratnieks for his PhD and carried out DNA […]

Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part two

[…]may wish to start to include more selection criteria like low swarming tendency, calm on the comb, good spring build up, frugal, fly at low temperature etc. Usually best to add these one at a time rather than trying to select for multiple traits. I operate on the basis that I propagate from queens in their third year. The first […]
Read more » Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part two

The Dark Bee Apis mellifera mellifera in the United Kingdom

[…]& late in the day Moderate swarmers White cappings Little propolis Resistant to disease Quiet on combs Not unduly aggressive Slow to develop in early spring Small brood nest Settle down early for winter Consume little in winter C: Brother Adam, 1966.8 Less prolific. Long lived. Long flight range. Thrifty. Incomparable cappings. Speed of comb building. Extreme susceptibility to acarine […]
Read more » The Dark Bee Apis mellifera mellifera in the United Kingdom

BIBBA Open Day – Improve Your Bees

[…]Attendees are encouraged to rear queens from desirable colonies that are docile, calm on the comb, productive and suit their local conditions. There will be one or two PowerPoint presentations to inform attendees of the basic principles of bee improvement, together with some simple suggestions on how the ordinary beekeeper can improve their own bees. There will be several demonstrations […]

2 Day Bee Improvement: Preston

[…]using grafting, cell punching, cell plugs and the Miller method Clipping and marking queens Changing queens in colonies and queen introduction techniques. Drone production Making up queen mating colonies and nuclei. Getting queens mated and mating control. Equipment required – buying, making, improvising or modifying. Dispelling some of the myths Delegates will leave the course with the confidence and skills […]

2 Day Bee Improvement: Preston

[…]using grafting, cell punching, cell plugs and the Miller method Clipping and marking queens Changing queens in colonies and queen introduction techniques. Drone production Making up queen mating colonies and nuclei. Getting queens mated and mating control. Equipment required – buying, making, improvising or modifying. Dispelling some of the myths Delegates will leave the course with the confidence and skills […]

Sustainable Bees & Queens

[…]may be little more than a variation of what many beekeepers already do and at little or no cost. CHANGING PLACES?  If you have already booked on another ‘Sustainable Bees’ event and wish to change to another venue, please email Please spread the word about these events.  Ask your local BKA secretary to email details to the membership. Topics […]

How I select my ‘Breeder Queens’

[…]then it may have the required docility. This assessment of docility will continue as one removes combs for inspection. I normally assess ‘docility’ and ‘calmness on the comb’ together, giving ‘5’ for perfect behaviour. Some prefer to split the assessment according to the two or more different aspects, such as one mark for ‘docility/aggressiveness’ and one for ‘calmness on the […]

Neville Dearden

[…]Bee Space stated “The horizontal bee space in this hive was perfect. There was never any brace comb built there.” Until relatively recently some of these hives were still in use at the BBKA apiary at Stoneleigh Park and Neville still has one in regular use at home 47 years after it was produced! Qualified in craft work, Neville is […]

Bucks Berks & Oxon Bee Improvement (BBOBI ) – RG9

[…]beekeepers to actively seek out their best hive and encourage drone production using drone comb, and practice drone removal in hives of poor temperament. Poor drones are one of the main reasons for poor queens. They have a significant impact on the longevity of queens, because of poor mating and infertility.  This is thought to be caused by poor nutrition […]
Read more » Bucks Berks & Oxon Bee Improvement (BBOBI ) – RG9

Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part one

[…]stock in your area. I find colonies given drone foundation use it and tend not to build drone comb elsewhere which keeps your comb tidy (although one of my colonies builds three frames of drone comb regardless!). Just put one frame of drone foundation, one in from the outside frame or in your best colonies two frames – one in […]
Read more » Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part one


[…]within our bee population, to develop whatever qualities we want to see in our bees. By a combination of natural selection (survival of the fittest) and artificial selection (selection by the beekeeper), we can produce a steady improvement in quality. This method works in harmony with nature and our bees will gradually evolve to produce good results in the current […]

Conserving black bees

[…]still makes a living on Colonsay. They are never much of a problem, apart from disfiguring cut comb sections. I have noticed large numbers of lice transfer to queens in late autumn. Nurse bees are no longer feeding brood and perhaps the queen becomes the main source of mouth-to-mouth feed transfer, from which the louse can steal a meal. Mother […]

Cupkit, Fakes and Annoyance

[…]terms, there is a plastic box with holes in that are blocked off by cups.  This replicates a comb, so when a queen is imprisoned in the box by a queen excluder, she lays eggs in the cups.  When done, she is released back into the colony.  The eggs develop into larvae, that are transferred in the cups into a […]

Queens: Collaboration and how to make it easy on yourself and your bees – by Karl Colyer

[…]If I can get away with just a little smoke, gentle inspections and the bees are still calm on the comb and not fizzing up, that will do for me. PRODUCTIVE? This year, I have been prioritising bee production, comb creation and winter stores above any honey surplus for me. This is all part and parcel of establishing new colonies. […]
Read more » Queens: Collaboration and how to make it easy on yourself and your bees – by Karl Colyer

BIBBA Monthly – December 2020

[…]the introduced queen will die. The usual advice if a colony is possibly queenless is to give it a comb with young larvae in from another colony, which is called a “test comb”. If the colony is queenless, they should build emergency cells, if queenright, they won’t. This is also no longer 100% reliable, though is still recommended and I […]

Section 1.2 – Aims, Imports & Bee Breeding

[…]aim will be achieved by sustainable methods that can be maintained indefinitely. Through the combination of natural and artificial selection (that is, selection by nature and the beekeeper), the qualities of the bee can be continually developed to be best-suited to our current conditions. The system will also allow our bees to evolve to cope with changing climatic and environmental […]

Section 4.14 – NatBIP 1 Record Card Instructions

[…]on the comb and may be a few stings without due reason. 4 – Fairly calm but some running on the comb. A bit excitable but no direct aggression. 5 – Very gentle and calm on comb. A pleasure to work with.Tip for assessment: Are bees pleasant or unpleasant to work with. Think 4 or 2. Then adjust up or […]
Read more » Section 4.14 – NatBIP 1 Record Card Instructions

Section 5.1 – Queen Rearing Methods

[…]just need to have another go. Make up the two nuc boxes with combs from the brood box and drawn comb. Combs from the brood box should be shaken free of bees to ensure the queen is not accidently moved above the queen excluder. If there are not enough drawn combs available put frames of foundation in the boxes and […]

Section 8.1 – Dominating an Area with the Selected Strain

[…]three weeks prior to the start of your first round of queen rearing. Also, a frame of drone comb or foundation can be inserted in the breeder colonies. Once it has been laid up it can be removed and replaced with another frame of drone comb or foundation.  The laid up frame is then placed in one of your less […]
Read more » Section 8.1 – Dominating an Area with the Selected Strain

Recommended YouTube Videos

There are a lot of beekeeping videos online. Some are excellent, with factual and sound information featuring good, knowledgeable and experienced beekeepers. Unfortunately there are many of dubious accuracy, giving poor advice that may be inappropriate for our conditions. As there is no vetting procedure to display educational material online, what is the inexperienced beekeeper to believe? BIBBA strongly believes […]

NatBIP News No3

[…]board. The bees should not show any signs of aggression and should be calm whilst examining the combs. If they are ‘flighty’ or nervous on the comb they will be marked down. Of course the temperament of the bees can vary at each inspection, but an average picture soon builds up. It is good practice not to tolerate colonies that […]

NatBIP News No4

[…]local area – he’s certainly in the right part of the country to do so, and even has Jo Widdecombe on his doorstep for advice! Phil Pepper – Devon Phil is a 2nd season beekeeper based in the Devon. I am grateful to Phil for stepping up to tell his ‘beginners’ story as I believe this group of beekeepers need […]

East Midlands 1998

[…]transported without syrup slopping about.   Use of cut comb containers for candy. Ron Brown in his excellent little book on managing Apidea mini-nucs advocates the use of cut comb containers for candy. These just nicely fit into the feed compartments of the mini-nuc. The idea being that these are used as a magazine type of replacement, take an empty […]

Bee Improvement Days 2021

[…]to improve their bees, with emphasis on suitability to the environment, docility, calmness on the comb, ease of management, good use of stores, etc. The improvement of bees is an important and interesting part of beekeeping. The suitability of bees to the environment and their temper are issues that concern the caring beekeeper, but are not often taught. This course […]

NatBIP News No6

[…]would make our task all the more difficult. The easiest way to make sustainable progress is to combine the demands of nature with the demands of the beekeeper. This is achieved by avoiding exotic imports and working with local bees. Many people see the problem with this is the fact that our local bees are often a random mixture of […]

Lune Valley New Breeding Apiary

[…]to try to prevent swarming not treating with chemicals letting the bees draw out their own comb rather than using foundation only taking off honey in the spring if there is a genuine surplus avoiding artificial feeding unless really necessary using well insulated hives with eco-floors only acquiring bees from reliable, local sources encouraging the creation of pollinator patches. We […]