The following notes are based on conversations held at the apiary on Sundays, journeys to our out apiary and meetings at the village hall. We now have a clear sense of purpose for next year. Understanding this requires some consideration of what has been achieved in 2015.
Looking back on our achievements in 2015
1 Improving our bees
Our main aim in 2015 was to increase the number and quality of our colonies. We now have 15 very healthy and viable colonies. All set for getting through the winter ready for supporting our breeding programme for next year.
2 Re-establishing the out apiary at the Dams
Our old isolated mating site in the Derbyshire Peak District was a success in the past and we decided to resurrect it to use rather than, or in addition to, the Yorkshire site used in recent years. The Derbyshire site is nearer and available throughout the season to produce more queens. More members can now be involved in this breeding work. The Thrumpton site is not sufficiently isolated to produce controlled matings as at least three other nearby apiaries are providing out crossed drones to local congregation areas. Various groups of members have been servicing the site with two drone colonies; nuclei have been placed there and 3 of the 5 mated queens that returned survived and are now in full stocks.
In November 2015 we identified a further site within 2 miles of our existing site and access has been negotiated with the land owner. We can now saturate that geographical location with our drones to populate local drone congregations.
3 Locating new queens to improve the genetic balance of our future queens.
Two members have bought in queens from Amm breeders in the United Kingdom and made this stock available for the BIBBA group. This has accelerated our ability to establish drone stock for next year. Five colonies will be the focus on our efforts.
4 Consolidating BIBBA group membership – building our competencies and maintaining an apiary to be proud of
There are 25 members and a core set are making considerable effort to keep equipment in good order, keep the apiary site tidy and keeping the grass cut. The apiary is a magical place and we all appreciate the opportunity to meet there to share our bee keeping experiences and understandings.
4 Record keeping
We have improved our way of recording our management of each colony and the tracking queens. We designed a composite form derived from designs from BIBBA, BBKA and others sources. We now have a pilot system that is beginning to work.
Building our competences with the morphometry analysis of our own bees, Thrumpton and individual member’s colonies. A workshop was run that established an approach that we will continue to develop.