PART 2 – STRATEGY FOR 2017
We are clear that everything we do is focussed on breeding Apis mellifera mellifera queens of the best genetic stock and to make these queens available to our members to establish this bee in their own apiaries.
This was fully discussed and whilst there were varying views on whether achieving such an aim is possible, all agreed that this was the rationale for all we do and what makes this group distinct.
Breeding programme approach for new season
Locating new queens – there are new Apis mellifera mellifera queens sourced from Irish and Scottish stock within the membership. These queens are available to BIBBA East Midlands if the group decides they meet their selection requirements.
Nigel Collier – one Irish
Roger Mould – two Irish
Adee Brazener – two Scottish (and one Irish?)
Alan Wilkins – one Scottish
Queen selection for breeding – A full appraisal of our current apiary stock will be undertaken soon as weather and temperature permit. The criteria to be used for selection will be compiled then. All potential breeding queens will be morphometrically tested before a final decision is made.
Target number for queens and distribution policy – Whilst there is a demand for queens produced by the group for members insufficient were bred last year. The meeting discussed in detail the considerations that determine future distribution.
- The restocking of the Thrumpton apiary takes precedent. The twenty 5 frame nucs are being constructed for that purpose to ensure greater survival of mated queens
- It may be possible to produce Queen cells from Amm queens that can be handed to members to bring on and mate in their own apiaries; or be mated at the Thrumpton site. This need further thinking.
- The Apideas and members mini nucs could also be used for member’s queens produced at the Thrumpton apiary. Queens produced at Thrumpton site could still be useful especially as the drones from these queens could help populate local drone gatherings. This procedure needs further consideration.
- An email will be sent to each member to determine what is the need.
- We will explore the possibility of each member taking their own nucleus boxes to the out apiary, under supervision. The precise way this process may happen is still to be decided. The purity on our drone colonies at the out apiary cannot be compromised.
- It was agreed that a first step could be a workshop on how to construct a nucleus colony for this purpose that guaranteed no drones present. Only those attending the workshop could participate in the out-apiary arrangements
- Issue do we need an out-apiary coordinator?
Yearly monitoring of performance – This is related to record keeping see below. There are many factors that influence the productivity of any breeding programme. After discussion, it was agreed that we should ensure that every nucleus and every colony must have a colony number and the progress of all colonies taken to out apiary should monitored using the A5 recording card. Providing this data is recorded then performance can be calculated.
Date guide for operations within the apiary – Once the breeding season starts Keith will construct a timetable of activity. Approximate start date – 3rd week in May
False swarm policy – It was agreed that all members needed to attend a rerun of the false swarm method devised last year in the form of a practical workshop at the apiary. The building of nucs from colonies is part of the process. Queen cells being removed could be offered to members for own use.
Out-apiary sites and their management
The out apiary needs a gate. Keith is currently contacting the Seven Trent water board to gain permission for its erection. This is a health and safety issue with the transportation of larger hive bodies to the site.
Action: Keith to contact board and to resolve issue within 4 weeks ready for start of season.
Hive stands for double nucs and apideas at the out apiary. Roger and Adam agreed to offer materials – bricks and wood for this purpose. To be resolved.
Maintenance of Thrumpton apiary – Grass cutting rota
The proposal to create a rota was passed; Adam, Dave, Jack and Tony volunteered to join the rota with all others present willing to lend a hand when necessary. Not all in the group are physically able to contribute to this task.
Action: AW to contact EP
Honey extraction policy
Honey sales are an important income for the group. The focus on recording actions and performance of all hives to give hard accurate data for assessment of future queens requires us to weigh super frames when collected from hives. This has been haphazard in the past as we do not have an agreed policy how to do this.
To avoid misunderstanding in the future the committee will draft an information sheet about the process and to determine % the collector receives. The constitution does refer to this and needs checking.
The meeting agreed that we all need to help this to happen in the future to aid collection of accurate records. There is a weighing meter at the apiary.
Record keeping – collective responsibility for maintaining records
This was discussed in detail. It was agreed that everyone will endeavour to complete an A5 record card for every visit to a colony during the breeding season. It is suggested that hive inspection teams work in threes – two open and assess the colony, the third writes the record card.
We cannot make any judgement on queens without good records.
Morphometry – we will continue to carry out morphometry on apiary and member’s bees. A workshop will be arranged in April at the village hall during which the group’s and member’s bees can be checked with the intention of selecting queen rearing stock for the coming season.
Membership and linking with BIBBA national organisation
We currently have 21 members – it was agreed that we should investigate methods to assist in the communication with all members regularly about what’s happening once the breeding season has begun.
Action: secretaries to consider what method for maintaining records is best; and how communication distribution and receipt of emails can be solved
The focus this year will be the same as 2016 – ‘encouraging existing member involvement, building skills and approaching others to join’ who have the same ideals as ourselves. No membership drive is envisaged; any one approaching us through the national BIBBA website, or through other means is always welcome.
Links with BIBBA national – we will inform the national groups secretary of our work, with the potential in future years to exchange breeding queens and the different approaches employed by different groups. The East Midlands group has a long history and its worthwhile to ensure the link with the national organization is maintained. The national website section for East Midlands group has been recently updated and will be revised in time for the coming season.