Group Presentation & Discussion “Bee improvement and bee breeding groups – some experiences and ideas”

Three representatives from existing bee breeding and bee improvement groups, operating in different areas, under different conditions, will each give a short presentation on their own group. They will tell us about their history, how they have progressed and how they may have dealt with problems or opportunities. An open discussion will follow, which should cover the various aspects of forming and running groups, in the hope it encourages attendees to discover the benefits of beekeepers working together to improve the bees in their own locality.

Bee improvement is much easier to achieve when a number of individuals have the same aims. Groups should be set up to suit the beekeepers involved, which could be a small number of individuals working together, as part of a BKA or a whole BKA. There are many possibilities, varying from very loose arrangements to a more formal approach. See how others do it, see how groups can help each other or find out how you can form one.

This session has been included in the programme because BIBBA intends to expand the network of bee breeding and bee improvement groups, as a way of helping beekeepers with a small number of colonies to improve their bees in a meaningful way.

BIBBA has a list of groups, with a Groups’ Secretary who can offer help, advice and encouragement where needed.

Groups featured.

Galtee Bee Breeding Group (GBBG). Ireland.  Jim Ryan. Inspired by the work of BIBBA, GBBG was established in the Galtee/Vee Valley in 1991 to study and improve local Irish strains of native honey bees.

GBBG could be described as the fore runner of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS ), which covers the whole of the island of Ireland and is presently very active in furthering the principles of GBBG, BIBBA and SICAMM in each of the thirty-two counties of Ireland.

The Bee Improvement Programme for Cornwall (BipCo). Nick Bentham-Green. BipCo was formed in 2009 to improve local strains of native or near-native bees.

A number of criteria have been applied during the selection of queens, these being Appearance, followed by morphometry and in some cases DNA analysis; Good temper; Low tendency to swarm; Good brood pattern and healthy brood; Good honey production (in all weathers!).

BipCo has at all times been working closely with other bee improvement groups in Cornwall and is now looking at setting up mirror organisations in both Devon and Somerset.

Manx Bee Improvement Group (MBIG). Johnny Kipps.

The MBIG was formed as a sub-committee of the IoM Beekeepers Federation in early 2015 after a BIBBA “BIFA” day, led by Roger Patterson.

The MBIG have begun to breed from colonies showing native or near native traits, prioritising docile temperament and dark appearance, with the aim of greatly increasing the number of colonies with these desirable traits throughout the island.