Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda “Producing Honey Under Difficult Conditions”

Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda is a commercial beekeeper based on Ireland’s east coast. As a fourth-generation beekeeper, he learned his craft through helping his father with the famous Galtee black bees of Co. Tipperary.

After settling in Co. Louth, he embarked on his own beekeeping enterprise using local strains of native Irish honey bee. He is Education Officer for Co. Louth Beekeepers’ Association, helping organise classes for beginners and improvers and lecture programmes for all members, and he also lectures to other beekeeping associations around Ireland. He is involved with Co. Louth BKA’s native honey bee breeding programme and the maintenance of Co. Louth as a conservation area for the black bee. He serves on the national committee of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society, until recently serving as editor of The Four Seasons, the voice of the Irish black bee movement.

Eoghan currently manages over 150 colonies and rears native queens for his own use and that of local beekeepers. He has won the World Class competition at the London Honey Show in 2014 and 2015 with the famous bell heather honey of the Cooley Mountains of North Louth.

Lecture Title: “Producing Honey Under Difficult Conditions”

Climatic conditions mean that beekeeping can be difficult on the northwestern margins of Europe. Although the Gulf Stream ensures that winters are generally mild, summer conditions are often cool and damp. The European dark bee, Apis mellifera mellifera, has evolved to cope with these conditions.

Scale hive data and honey yields reveal that the Irish variant of the dark bee provides good yields even in poor summers. Due to its conservative brood-rearing nature, the native Irish honey bee is able to respond rapidly to unpredictable and intermittent honey flows and is very thrifty with regard to stored honey. Other characteristics of the native bee that play key roles in honey production are flying behavior, temperament, longevity, swarming, disease resistance and over-wintering. To optimise honey production, it is important for the beekeeper to consider such management factors as swarm prevention and control, bee health, hive records, colony evaluation and breeding.