News April 2019

News April 2019


BIBBA Strategy Summary Document (2019)

Draft – for comment by members.

  1. Overall BIBBA Strategy

1.1 Continue to increase the number of BIBBA members

1.2 Improved benefits and engagement with members, groups, farmers and outside agencies.

1.3 Reduce queen and bee imports into UK and Ireland

1.4 To develop action plans, timings and accountabilities to deliver the following;

  1. Member Benefits

2.1 Establish an online forum where members can seek advice from BIBBA experts

2.2 Produce videos relevant to Bee Improvement and Queen rearing techniques

2.3 Develop and implement a set frequency and timing for Bee Improvement Magazine distribution

2.4 Establish the role of Membership Coordinator to engage with new and existing members, help with membership recruitment and support the regional mobilisation of members.

  1. Member Education

3.1 Produce technical and practical booklets and online/electronic media

3.2 Review and retrieve suitable booklets and articles from BIBBA archives and make available

3.3 Events to help improve knowledge and skills of beekeepers

3.4 Train and coach people to deliver training and presentations regionally

3.5 Establish the role of Events Coordinator to help support the organisation of member events

  1. Member Groups

4.1 Increase the number of groups and their achievements

4.2 Support groups with advice and help

4.3 Group Coordinator to have regular contact with groups

  1. Raise native and near native queens

5.1 Educate and encourage beekeepers to propagate their own bees and queens

5.2 Encourage BKAs and groups to produce excess queens to meet local demand

5.3 Identify and influence commercial bee breeders and queen rearers to rear local bees

5.4 Establish remote breeding areas and strategy where appropriate

  1. Science and Technical Committee

6.1 Re-establish S&T committee

6.2 Further build relationships with and between key academic institutions

6.3 Produce an archive of relevant scientific papers

6.4 Technical guidance to groups and individuals.

  1. Publicity

7.1 To engage members, beekeepers, general public, beekeeping organisations, sympathetic organisations and the lobbying of decision makers.

7.2 Presence on trade stands at conferences, training events, etc.

7.3 Provide copy to media.

  1. Regional organisation

8.1 Regions to be established *

8.2 Regionally based events and group activities

8.3 Build relationships with county BKA and branch BKAs

8.4 Develop and provide a range of speakers and speaking subjects to BKAs and others

*As regional variation in bees and climate is an important factor for localised adaption, improvement and conservation of bees, the strategy and events should reflect the different approaches required regionally.

Download the strategy document as a pdf file

TOP: Strategy Document

Beekeepers come swarming to the Sustainability days

Beekeepers come swarming to the Sustainability days

BIBBA hosted nine events across the country (presented by Roger Patterson) called “Sustainability – Bees and Queens for Everybody using low cost, simple techniques”. Over 1,300 beekeepers at all stages of their beekeeping careers attended the sellout event.

The day’s presentation was created by Roger after a Defra survey last year where 4,763 beekeepers fed back to a range of topical beekeeping questions around queen rearing.

Some typical feedback included:

  1. Why purchase your own queens rather than rear your own?
  2. Not enough experience (41%), not enough time (17%), to improve colony temperament (35%) and to improve colony productivity (25%)
  3. What form of assistance would help you to raise more queens in the future?
  4. Mentoring (28%), training courses (47%)
  5. Would attending a course improve your queen rearing skills?
  6. Yes (60%), No (22%)
  7. Are you part of a bee breeding/improvement programme?
  8. No (95%)
  9. What do you think of mixing imported and native bee strains?
  10. Positive (12%), negative (46%), don’t know (42%)
  11. Would you support a national breeding programme for AMM in the UK?
  12. Yes (79%), No (8%)

Bee imports are increasing (up fourfold since 2011 from the EU to UK) but the number of beekeepers has stayed broadly the same. The different genetics coming into the UK could possibly upset the existing bees with cross-breeding causing a range of issues such as change in temperament, less able to cope with the vagaries of the UK climate as well as a risk of disease importation.

There will be a video available soon for those that missed the events. A whole range of topics were discussed on the day including:

  • Roger’s system of keeping bees, having non-prolific bees and still getting plenty of honey.
  • Simple factors to consider for bee improvement
  • Getting queen cells and two framed nucs set up
  • How to get up to 11 colonies in one season

Roger frequently signposted attendees to the Dave Cushman website ( for more detail or information on the subject areas he was talking through.

Overall, a fantastic attendance across the country and, hopefully, plenty of individuals, groups, BKA’s and teaching apiary managers who will be enthused to breed bees and queens for everybody.

TOP: Beekeepers Come Swarming to the Sustainability Days

University of Plymouth Project

University of Plymouth Project

The University of Plymouth in partnership with B4 (a community interest company: Bringing Back Black Bees) and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) have started a 4 year PhD project to investigate suggestions from bee-keepers that different sub-species have a suite of different behaviours and characteristics in comparison to other sub-species, and further that these might be highly regional in their nature.

The project will measure these differences, and match those with genetic signatures to confirm the lineage of bees showing different traits. It also aims to identify the parts of the genome that might be under rapid change in these sub-species.

While some of the trait differences might be well-established in the bee-keeping community, to date published, robust empirical evidence is lacking. The kinds of traits that we’re interested in gathering data on are, for example, drone brood timings, worker brood cycle, and thriftiness. We will investigate these traits using a bee keeping survey.

The survey has been designed in collaboration with bee-keepers and tries to get as much detail as possible whilst at the same time being practical and feasible for bee-keepers to complete. It will require you to measure and record specific parameters throughout the season, some of which you would be completed as part of your usual routine.

We need as many people to fill in the survey as possible and the project relies on the bee keeping community for its success. The survey is open to all bee keepers regardless of the sub-species you keep.

This is your opportunity to be part of scientific research on honey bees. There will be regular updates and feedback on the project as it unfolds.

If you are interested in taking part in the survey please email your name to ku.ca1558714812.htuo1558714812mylp@1558714812yevru1558714812seeb1558714812 in addition to the email address there is a Facebook group entitled “University Of Plymouth Beekeepers Survey 2019”.

Many Thanks,

Victoria Buswell