Margaret Murdin “Bee Genetics Explained” – “Understanding the Queen”

Margaret has been keeping bees for about 12 years and is a practical beekeeper who learnt her skills as a member of the Ormskirk and Croston Branch of the Lancashire Association. She is a member of BIBBA and keeps bees that are well adapted to the local area. She currently has 20 colonies across 3 apiaries and is interested in the bees themselves rather than the production of honey.

Margaret is a Master Beekeeper and holds the National Diploma in Beekeeping. She enjoys teaching all levels of beekeeping and gives talks and workshops all over the UK. She holds a degree in biological sciences and was principal of a Further and Higher Education College before retirement.

Margaret is an examiner and assessor for the British Beekeepers Association and is currently Chair of the BBKA Trustees.

Lecture Title: “Bee Genetics Explained – Simply”

Genetics is a fascinating study whether of humans or insects but, of the two, the insects are far more interesting. Like us, female bees have two sets of chromosomes… set from the mother and one from the father. But male bees, the drones, are different…they have a single set. This is why we say that drones have no father! How does that work?

Because drones have only this one set we say they are haploid…well usually ……but not always. It’s for this reason that mutations (like white eyes) always show in drones but not in the female castes.

The genetics of bees can seem complicated, mainly because the words used are long, complicated and difficult to remember (and not really necessary). The concepts themselves are not that difficult and an understanding of them helps us to understand our bees and their behaviour.

This talk will seek to explain the genetics of honey bees in a straightforward way …in a way that is easily understood and useful to beekeepers.


Lecture Title: “Understanding the Queen – her physiology, characteristics and behaviour”

Many beekeepers spend a long time looking for a queen in a colony. They know she is important, but how much do they actually know about her? In simple terms the queen is the mother of  the colony, but there is much more to it than that.

Although the egg of a queen and worker are identical, they become very different creatures depending on their diet in the larval stage, that only lasts a few days. This lecture will discuss these differences, not only physiologically, but characteristically and behaviourally.