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Dave Cushman’s Website Several thousand pages of beekeeping and bee breeding information. Considered to be one of the world’s most informative beekeeping websites. Beekeeping through the eyes of biologist Randy Oliver: “this site is a record of my learning process as I try to understand aspects of colony health and productivity, and the reasons why various management techniques work […]


[…]BKA website and owns and maintains Dave Cushman’s Website Jo Widdicombe Jo lives in Cornwall but is prepared to travel if allowance is made for time and distance. Tel No…   01752 822 335   Email… About Jo Widdicombe Member of BIBBA for approximately 25 years. Bee farmer running 120+ colonies, using mainly near-native bees. Author of book, ‘The Principles […]

The Dark Bee Apis mellifera mellifera in the United Kingdom

[…]have conclusively shown that modern specimens of Dark Bees from the UK and Ireland fit into the genetic specification of Apis mellifera mellifera (see e.g. the article by Pritchard). Characterisitics of British A.m.m. Physical characters Cooper, 19865 Bees “black”. Long abdominal overhairs. Characteristic wing type. Genetically large size. Behavioural characters I will now discuss some of the behavioural characteristics of […]
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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 […]

August 2022 BIBBA Monthly

[…]written and spoken about, with a page on Dave Cushman’s website Queen Bee Performance Problems ( I see many of these problems every summer, seeing some in three out of the four apiaries I recently used for the BIBBA Bee Improvement and Queen Rearing courses. At one of them, the first two colonies I inspected had problems. I have recently […]

A Simple Method of Simultaneously Raising Queens and Producing Nuclei

[…]increases.  Drones can be removed by first shaking bees into a Marburg swarm box (see, but this is a laborious and time-consuming process.  You could fit drone excluders to the nuclei to prevent undesired drones from leaving to mate but, in my limited experience, these appear to get clogged very quickly.  I place 3 half frames of drone brood […]
Read more » A Simple Method of Simultaneously Raising Queens and Producing Nuclei

Roger Patterson

[…]a regular contributor to the bee press. Roger now owns and maintains Dave Cushman’s website, that is widely recognised as one of the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping websites. He is the author of “Beekeeping. A Practical Guide”. He is a past BBKA Trustee and is Vice President of Bee Diseases Insurance (BDI), in addition to arranging the lecture programmes for the […]

Native Honey Bees

[…]Even though their numbers are quite low compared to former times there is still a lot of genetic material left. It is my belief we should be selecting for characteristics in bees that will help them survive, rather than use types that are unsuited that need mollycoddling just to keep them alive. In my view the importation of queens has […]

Colony Assessment Criteria

Simple criteria we can all set for our bees Despite what you may hear or read, it is fairly easy to change some of the characteristics of your bees. This can be done by assessing colonies against a set of criteria that you want in your bees, using queen cells from colonies displaying those criteria and culling those that don’t. […]

BBOBI Group – March April 2019 Newsletter

[…]we list the activities which are underway focused on rearing queens: Selection of hives as genetic is well underway, there may be some standardisation required later with a Stud Book.  For the moment hive temperament and swarming tendency are being scored as selection criteria. Drone were encouraged early by many members adding drone comb foundation to their hives in March […]

Roger Patterson “The Patterson Unit”

[…]BIBBA “Bee Improvement for All (BIFA)” days. He owns and manages Dave Cushman’s website, that is accepted as one of the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping websites, also the lesser known Lecture Title: “The Patterson Unit” This presentation was formerly called “A New Approach”, the “Patterson Unit” came about by accident, after it appeared on the events page of […]

Beekeepers come swarming to the Sustainability days

[…]in one season Roger frequently signposted attendees to the Dave Cushman website ( for more detail or information on the subject areas he was talking through. Overall, a fantastic attendance across the country and, hopefully, plenty of individuals, groups, BKA’s and teaching apiary managers who will be enthused to breed bees and queens for […]
Read more » Beekeepers come swarming to the Sustainability days

BBOBI Group – April 2020 Newsletter

[…]two frame nucs. You could also read up on the Miller Method, this is a good link: Keep an eye on the What’sApp group, it is the best way to make cries for help. If you’re not included, email me your phone number to be added to the thirty or so members on the group today. If you do not […]

Webinars – Season Two

Tuesday 18th August 7:30pm – Roger Patterson – “Dead Bees Don’t Buzz – Surviving the Winter “ Presentation:  “Dead Bees Don’t Buzz – Surviving the Winter “ View Recording – Roger Patterson – “Dead Bees Don’t Buzz – Surviving the Winter “ Tuesday 25th August 7:30pm – Lynfa Davies – “The Mystery of Mating” Presentation:  “The Mystery of Mating”. View […]

BIBBA Monthly – December 2020

[…]2021. The new Trustees (in alphabetical order) are: Jonathan Brookhouse Brian Holdcroft Selwyn Runnett Richard Senior Robert Silver Each of these has already made a very positive contribution to BIBBA and has helped BIBBA become what it is today. Request for contributors for regular Facebook communications  By Liz Childerley and Stephen Barnes BIBBA is looking to revitalise and increase the […]

Using a Smoker

Lighting the smoker and keeping it lit seems to be a major problem to many beekeepers. This is something I have never been able to understand, because it has nothing to do with learning beekeeping, it has more to do with school science lessons and common sense. How many beekeepers do you see who fill the firebox up with fuel, […]

BIBBA Opposes the Importation of Honey Bees and Queens

[…]drones mate with local queens, another result is the disruption and dilution of locally adapted genetic traits that have evolved in the local population. The consequence of this dilution is weaker colonies less likely to survive the winter without substantial beekeeper intervention and support. We do not need to import bees! There are circa 250,000 colonies in England and Wales. […]
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Bacteria Help Honey Bee Larvae

Honey bees are under constant pressure from a whole host of stresses—diseases, poor nutrition,sublethal effects of pesticides, and many others. While researchers have been aware for a number of years of a community of bacteria in adult bees that may aid with some of these stresses,Agricultural Research Service researchers have identified the first bacteria that offer a benefit to bee […]

BIM 49 – Spring 2017

[…]or more drones, so every colony has a range of workers who are half-sisters with different genetic mixes producing different strengths and weaknesses. With seven colonies I feel secure that I’m unlikely to lose them all at once – never say never! – so I can be more ruthless about natural selection. I support casts in their first year, to […]

Breeding for resistance to Varroa destructor in Europe

Abstract – The rich variety of native honeybee subspecies and ecotypes in Europe o?ers a good genetic resource for selection towards Varroa resistance. There are some examples of mite resistance that have developed as a consequence of natural selection in wild and managed European populations. However, most colonies are in?uenced by selective breeding and are intensively managed, including the regular […]
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Section 5.1 – Queen Rearing Methods

[…]and these should be adhered to regardless of which method one uses. It is no good getting the genetics right if the queens are not well reared, as their performance may be severely impaired. Careful attention should be paid to the health of the colonies being used to rear new queens, particularly with regard to the notifiable diseases of American […]

The health and status of the feral honeybee population of the UK

[…]represent a genetically distinct population, a remnant native population or a unique source of genetic resistance. Chapter 2 investigates disease prevalence in managed and feral honeybee colonies. Deformed wing virus was shown to be 2.4 fold higher in feral than managed honeybees. Managed honeybee colonies not treated for Varroa showed similar levels of deformed wing virus to that of feral […]
Read more » The health and status of the feral honeybee population of the UK

Breeding Techniques and Selection for Breeding of the Honeybee – Ruttner – download pdf

Members can download a copy of this book for their personal use. This electronic download is ONLY available to current BIBBA members. It is strictly copyright protected against any distribution, loaning, display, broadcasting, selling or copying. By downloading this file, you agree to these terms and […]
Read more » Breeding Techniques and Selection for Breeding of the Honeybee – Ruttner – download pdf

What is Apis mellifera mellifera?

[…]by a) Morphological characters, including colour, size, wing venation, abdominal hair length; b) Genetic characters identifiable by DNA analysis; c) Behavioural characters, including colony size and development, longevity, pollen collection.     The indigenous range of Apis mellifera mellifera stretches from the Atlantic seaboard of Norway, Britain, Ireland and France eastward across Western, Northern and Central Europe north of the […]

John Harding Queen Rearing

Due to the current situation beekeepers are in, queen rearing is now more important and critical than ever, for producing good quality native queens to deal with our changing environment and climate. We can and must influence what strains and sub-strains of honeybee we have left, but as a starting point we must concentrate on what we have here at […]

Colonsay a honey bee haven

[…]bees on Colonsay and Oronsay have the same significance for future Apis mellifera mellifera genetic purity as Kangaroo Island has for Apis mellifera lig­ustica. “These islands will become a Mecca not only for worldwide beekeepers interested in seeing the pure race Apis mellifera mellifera for themselves but also for scientists investigating the limits of genetic diversity in any closed and […]

Honey bee origins, evolution & diversity – Ashleigh Milner

[…]cerana with mellifera even using instrumental insemination, because the two species are now genetically incompatible and viable eggs do not result from the cross fertilisation. Other differences include their differing reactions to diseases, infestations and predators. Apis cerana can tolerate varroa and has developed an effective defence strategy against the Giant Hornet, against which mellifera bees have no defence. A […]
Read more » Honey bee origins, evolution & diversity – Ashleigh Milner

A Native Dark Bee Project

Margie Ramsay reports on a project reintroducing A.m.m. to a reserve in Scotland. Update July 2015 In 1905, just before the First World War there was a 20 year long bee plague called Isle of Wight disease which was considered by many, including bee breeder Brother Adam, to have eradicated the native subspecies of dark European honeybee Apis mellifera mellifera […]

Galtee Bee Breeding Group

The Galtee Bee Breeding Group was formed in the year 1991 with the object of conservation, study and improvement of the native strains of dark European Honeybee Apis mellifera mellifera in the Galtee/Vee valley and surrounding areas of South Tipperary. In the first year we had only four members and increased our membership only very gradually during the early years. […]

Work with Bangor University

North Wales BIBBA groups team up with South Clwyd Beekeepers and Bangor University. This work was started during the beekeeping season of 2011 and has now reached the point where some very valuable data and techniques could emerge.  The first study by Bangor concerned a survey of bee wings throughout South Clwyd. The wings were analysed using DrawWing and Morphplot. […]

The black bee, an increasingly rare pearl

[…]in France as well as POLLINIS and Lionel Garnery, CNRS researcher, specialist in the genetics of the black bee. overfeeding (bees are only fed with sweet syrups when necessary and up to what is taken only), and imports of non-local bees. In December 2015, FEDCAN, the European Federation of Black Bee Conservatories was thus created. It brings together a dozen conservatories in France […]

BIM 37 – Spring 2012

[…]Name – Will Messenger Report and Accounts A Proposal – Jo Widdicombe The BIBBA Constitution Genetic Influence – David Campbell Project Discovery – Terry Clare A Bright Future – Dorian Pritchard Dave Cushman’s Website – Roger Patterson Wing Morphometry – Peter Edwards Galtee Bee Breeding Group – Mary Ryan John Dews Update – Tony Jefferson BIBBA members can download a […]

BIM 36 – Summer 2011

Chairman’s message – Will Messenger Update on Morphometry – Peter Edwards Beekeeping in Orkney – Jannine Hazelhurst The way forward – Will Messenger Inbreeding part 2 – Dorian Pritchard Simple Queen Rearing – Dinah Sweet The Native Bee – Pam Hunter Dave Cushman – Roger Patterson John Dews Obituary – various Book Review – Philip Denwood The Rose Hive Method: […]

BIM 33 – Winter 2010

Cornbrook revisited – Sandra Unwin Local Queen Programme – Roger Patterson Assessment of colonies – Jo Widdicombe The BIBBA record card – Philip Denwood Groups – Terry Clare A model agreement – Terry Clare Queen rearing group – Roger Patterson Warnholz Mini BiVo nuc – Dave Cushman The Harding Mini Nuc – John Harding Bee improvement – Roger Patterson Entombment […]

Countryfile – on the Rame Peninsula

Countryfile – report on dark bee reserve on the Rame Peninsula Jo Widdicombe writes: The prospect of Countryfile coming to the Rame Peninsula and doing a report on native bees was a cause for excitement and some trepidation. We are all used to incorrect reports in the press, wasps being labelled as bees and so on. We also know about […]

Kings Orchard – East Cornwall

Kings Orchard Honeybee Improvement Group Based  in East Cornwall a small group with the emphasis of breeding pedigree lines of Cornish Native dark bees utilising isolated mating apiaries and Instrumental Insemination. Working closely with the other bee improvement groups in the South West. contact Dave Ledger […]

Albert Knight

An appreciation by Brian P. Dennis: Albert Knight first became involved in BIBBA in the winter of 1977 when Adrian Waring was running a beekeeping course at Broomfield College, Derbyshire.   He joined BIBBA in 1978 and took over from Adrian as secretary in 1979, and remained in this role for many years.   He became the voice of BIBBA and was […]

A Proposal for a National Honey Bee Improvement Programme

[…](RNSBB) (the taskforce within COLOSS for breeding and conservation) states, ‘We believe that the safeguarding of bee biodiversity, beyond its ethical and scientific dimensions, is also of high economic interest, because in the long run locally adapted populations are better suited than imported ones to cope with prevailing environmental conditions and health threats, and thus to survive’ . A […]
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Help Required

First, some background info. I’m Nick Mawby and have been a BIBBA member for 40 years. I’d had nothing to do with BIBBA organisation until 2015, when I complained to Roger Patterson that the website had not been updated in the four years since Dave Cushman had died. His response was, “well you sort it then”. And so I took […]

Conserving black bees

[…]of wild colonies of European honeybees in the northeastern United States: inves­tigating its genetic structure Apidologie 46 654-666 (2015) Adam, Brother (1983) In search of the best strains of bees. Northern Bee Books; Heb­den Bridge, UK. 199-201 Jensen Annette B. et al. Varying degrees of Apis mellifera ligustica introgression in protected populations of black honeybee, Apis mellifera mellifera, in northwest […]

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 No4

[…]continues to be a concern. The case is often made that imports are a good thing as they increase genetic diversity in our bee population. The implication being that lack of genetic diversity is particularly likely to be an issue for those who advocate working within a single sub-species. If this was the case, one wonders how the 20 or […]