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Webinar – Season Three

Webinars - Season Three

Tuesday 22nd September & Tuesday 29th September at 7.30pm - Jo Widdicombe - See below

Jo is a bee farmer managing about 150 colonies with one assistant. He is author of the book, ‘The Principles of Bee Improvement’ and is President of BIBBA. He is working on the plans for the National Bee Improvement Programme with other members of the BIBBA Committee.

Tuesday 22nd September at 7.30pm

Presentation:  "The National Bee Improvement Programme - Outline"

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  1. Aims
    • Do we need it?
    • What is wrong with current system?
    • Advantages of a sustainable improvement programme
  1. Can we devise a Programme that will work/produce good results?
    • Difficulties: hybridised stock; uncontrolled matings; multiple matings; inflow of imports
  1. How the system will work: breeder queens, drone production/flooding, repeat
  1. Selecting for qualities
  1. Selecting within a strain
  1. Seeking maximum participation. Funding the programme.
  1. Summary. Adapting and modifying

Tuesday 29th September at 7.30pm

Presentation:  "More details of the National Bee Improvement Programme and Participation"

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  1. Repeat aims. Reducing imports
  1. Active improvement. Record-keeping for selection of Breeders
  1. Details of record-keeping
  1. More details of how system would work re breeders and drones
  1. Working within (and establishing) a strain to make faster progress.
  1. Encouraging participation (and different levels of)
  1. Summary. Adapting and modifying

Tuesday 6th October at 7.30pm - Norman Carreck - Presentation:  “Global pandemics, bee imports and native bees" View Recording

Norman Carreck has been keeping bees for forty years, and has been a bee research scientist for twenty nine. He has lectured about bees on all continents where bees are kept, has written many scientific papers, book chapters, conference contributions and popular articles, has edited several books and regularly appeared in the media in many countries. He is a director of Carreck Consultancy Ltd and Bee Publishing Ltd and is based at the University of Sussex, UK.

Presentation:  “Global pandemics, bee imports and native bees"

The Covid-19 crisis has coincided with several new scientific papers which confirm that global movements of bees have led to the spread of bee viruses. In recent years the number of queens being imported into the UK has increased, despite evidence that “local” bees survive better. There is growing evidence that native dark European honey bees are alive and well in Britain and Ireland, but efforts to conserve them can be hampered by imports of exotic bees, and can such bees act as “invasive alien species” outside their native range? UK beekeepers say they would favour local bees, but queen rearing in the UK is hampered by the weather. Nonetheless, nationwide efforts could be made to improve the quality of UK’s existing stock of bees for varroa tolerance and docility.

Tuesday 13th October at 7.30pm - Peter Jenkins - “My 50 years experiences of imported bees affecting local stock"
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Peter Jenkins has kept bees since the age of 14, a period of over 50 years. He now keeps around 50 colonies of near native bees in and around the marginal areas of Cardiganshire. Having spent most of his working life as a Chartered Engineer working around the world on marine and naval projects has meant that, for many years, he had little time for regular 7 day hive inspections as advised in text books. Nevertheless he has harvested at least average crops of honey year on year using bees improved over lifetime by his father, a process he is now continuing following his father’s death in 2009.

Presentation:  “My 50 years experiences of imported bees affecting local stock"

The presentation is a history of how bees and beekeeping has changed in Cardiganshire since about 1960. Not only has beekeeping in Wales changed over the past 50 years, so has farming. Wales is predominantly a sheep and dairy area, wet and good for growing grass. In the 1960s a farm of 20 milking cows was typical. Today it is 200++. This extreme unsustainable intensification of agriculture has made much of the previously rich bee foraging pasture a floral desert. The presentation tells of how the local indigenous bees were adversely affected in terms of performance and temper by large scale imports by both commercial beekeepers and well intentioned amateurs; and how local beekeepers successfully overcame these difficulties. Many of these problems are shared by other dairy farming areas, there are third generation professional beekeepers in Normandy, northern France, who face exactly the same problems both in terms of bee imports and farming practices.

Tuesday 20th October at 7.30pm - Grace McCormack - “Resilient Honeybees"

Grace McCormack is a Professor in Zoology at NUI Galway. Her interests lie in evolutionary biology and particularly in using molecular data to understand how organisms are related to each other and the impacts this may have on conservation and on the evolution of organismal traits. The interaction between animals and their parasites/pathogens over evolutionary time is also of interest as is the use of molecular information in applied science such as biodiscovery (marine sponges) and apiculture (bees). Grace has published over 60 research papers and book chapters and currently has a team of three PhD students and a research assistant.   Grace has been beekeeping for about 7 years and currently manages 15 colonies. She became interested in free-living colonies in 2015 and has been investigating their survival, diversity and distribution since. She is interested both in conservation of Apis mellifera mellifera and resilience of untreated bees to varroa and other challenges introduced by humans.

Presentation:  “Resilient Honeybees"

Grace will present the results of the investigation of the wild honeybee study in Ireland including aspects of habitat choice, survival and genetic diversity of free-living bees. She will also introduce Honeybee Watch, an international project that aims to use citizen science (especially beekeepers) to assist in accumulating data on wild bees towards aiding their conservation. She will discuss current research on resilient honeybees both managed and wild and the use of data science to assist in honeybee conservation and bee improvement.

Tuesday 27th October, 3rd November & 10th November all at 7.30pm - Roger Patterson - See below

Roger was brought up on a farm in West Sussex and started beekeeping in 1963. He has travelled widely, speaking on and demonstrating practical beekeeping, where his down to earth approach gained by observation, lateral thinking and being taught by many colonies of honey bees for over 50 years is appreciated. He is privileged to have seen different bees being kept in different conditions, which, together with removing several hundred wild/feral colonies has formed his opinion of what bees are best suited to our fickle climate.

Roger encourages beekeepers to use simple management techniques and keep good tempered, healthy and productive bees that suit their locality. He has not bought an imported queen for well over 50 years, preferring to rear his own from the best of those that have survived locally.

He is a prolific writer and owns and manages Dave Cushman's website, that is accepted as one of the world's most comprehensive beekeeping websites.

In his three webinars, Roger will attempt to cover some points the other speakers may have omitted. He will address some of the issues that face beekeeping and some the previous speakers may have raised. Apart from a few short spells, honey bees have been imported on a fairly large scale for over 100 years. Importation doesn’t seem to have solved anything, other than to weaken the stock that is already here for short term gain.

Tuesday 27th October 7.30pm

Presentation:  “Where we are, how we got here and how we can move on……."

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As with other things in life, beekeeping has changed. The modern beekeeper has access to “information” and bees that may not be appropriate to their region, where beekeepers in the past used bees that survived best in their district and managed them to suit.

Many beekeepers think that all bees are the same, but they aren’t, with some considerable differences, often with the same advice freely given, irrespective of the type of bee or the conditions. A colony of bees is telling you something all the time, the skill comes in interpreting what they are trying to say, which of course comes from observation and experience.

Many beekeepers judge their bees by the size of the honey crop, but is that always advisable? There are several reasons why a colony may produce more or less honey than another colony in the same apiary. We should also take into account the time taken on inspections and the amount of feeding required.

A colony of wild (feral) bees is subject to the forces of natural selection, which is often masked by beekeepers who, as a matter of course, over – feed, insulate and medicate their bees, just to keep them alive. Close observation of wild colonies has shown me they are often quite different from many managed colonies. The reasons for this will be discussed with a view to encouraging the keeping of bees with similar characteristics. What suits nature should suit us.

Tuesday 3rd November 7.30pm

Presentation:  “Some Fresh Ideas for Teaching and Learning"

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This webinar is not intended to tell teachers and BKAs what to do, it is to help them to include what was learnt in the last webinar in their teaching and to give beekeepers an idea of what to expect. Much of beekeeping teaching and advice, especially to beginners, is based on management methods that are more suited to imported bees than those that do well in our climate. This is for a variety of reasons that are well documented elsewhere, aggravated by the “cut and paste” mentality, where methods that are used in Florida or California can quickly be accessed online, even though they may not work well elsewhere.

Under discussion will be some of the myths and misinformation that have crept into beekeeping in recent years that have become part of mainstream teaching. BKAs are now the main source of teaching at a local level, with no effective appraisal of the skill and knowledge levels of those doing the teaching. I believe that BKAs should be better supported in their teaching role, so they can provide good sound teaching.

Tuesday 10th November 7.30pm

Presentation:  “Free Bees and Queens for Everyone and Plenty of Them"

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Many beekeepers and beekeeping associations buy bees and queens because they feel it is difficult to produce their own. Once you have a colony of bees, there is no need to ever buy bees again, as it is very easy to produce more, with opportunities often presented to cover the needs of small scale beekeepers during the summer. For larger scale beekeepers or BKAs, a little planning is needed, but rapid increase can be made. Queens can also be produced quite easily.

This webinar explores some possible options and benefits of producing bees and queens locally, which if done by BKAs will provide great opportunities to teach their members, as well as perhaps being an income stream. There is the added benefit of producing stock that is known to be survivors in the locality.

Tuesday 17th November  7.30pm - Presenters:  Panel drawn from previous speakers, Presentation:  “Answering Your Questions"

Presenters:  Panel drawn from previous speakers

Presentation:  “Answering Your Questions"

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The National Bee Improvement Programme is one of the most radical proposals ever put to beekeepers in our part of the world. We can only improve our bees if we understand them. Much of the teaching, especially of beginners, is based on imported bees, so there may need to be some modification in teaching and what has already been learnt. This will bring many questions, which this webinar has been set up to answer.

During the previous 8 webinars we will try to cover much of what beekeepers may ask. There will be time at the end of each session for questions, but inevitably there will be more. Now closed to questions.