Nick Bentham-Green “Bee Improvement in Cornwall, Achievements and Aspirations”

Nick was in a ‘former life’ a Royal Marines Officer for 32 years. Nick first started keeping bees in the early 90’s having between 2 and 5 colonies for many years. For most of that time he bred his own queens, quickly realising that there had to be a better way rather than importing queens.

Nick chaired the Tavistock Branch of the Devon BKA for a few years and was also the Branch apiary manager.

In 2009, whilst still in Devon, he joined BipCo (Bee Improvement Programme for Cornwall), which was under the Chairmanship of Jo Widdicombe. At this time Nick became very interested in bee improvement, realising that he had in fact been doing the same, with his own bees for a number of years.

In 2011 Nick retired from the Royal Marines and became a full time beekeeper. He now runs about 30 colonies, and helps with the management of a number of BipCo mating apiaries. He is also Chairman of BipCo and one of the Directors of B4, (Bring Back Black Bees), which is a community interest company looking at conserving the remnant populations of Amm in Cornwall.

Nick has recently taken over the role as BIBBA Groups’ Secretary.

Lecture Title: “Bee Improvement in Cornwall, Achievements and Aspirations”

There are a number of Bee Improvement groups within Cornwall, and these will be discussed during Nick’s presentation. The groups being BipCo, CBIBBG the Cornwall Bee Improvement and Bee Breeding Group, and B4 (Bring Back Black Bees). Their principle aims are the same and for that reason, Nick saw it as very important that there is a regular free and frank exchange of ideas between the 3 groups, so that there is no re-invention of the wheel. Nick will discuss each of the groups in turn, but will focus in the main on BipCo and B4.

Nick will look back at the selection criteria used by BipCo to improve our bees, he will discuss the Group’s aspirations as well as the frustrations!

Nick will talk about B4 in more detail and in particular what he terms the ‘Top-down’ approach, where he has sought to influence a variety of decision makers in Cornwall and the South West, about the plight of the native bee and what they can do to help. B4 has also embarked on a campaign to inform the public about the native honey bee, Nick will discuss this.

As well as a look back, Nick will also discuss some of the Groups’ aspirations for the next 5 to 10 years. This will not only consolidate on gains made, but also to expand the network of Bee Improvement Groups from Cornwall, into Devon and beyond.