Roger Patterson “The Patterson Unit”

Roger is a practical beekeeper who started beekeeping in West Sussex in 1963. He is heavily involved in the craft, being a demonstrator at his local BKA since the early 1970s and manager of their teaching apiary. He had a full term as BBKA Trustee, is currently a BIBBA Trustee and Vice President of Bee Diseases Insurance Ltd (BDI). He has experience of dealing with a fairly large number of colonies, in addition to running 130 of his own for about 15 years.

Roger is a prolific writer and speaker, where he passes on the knowledge gained from experience and observing bees, in the hope it helps beekeepers to keep their bees in an understanding and caring way. He presents the popular BIBBA “Bee Improvement for All (BIFA)” days.

He owns and manages Dave Cushman’s website www.dave-cushman.net, that is accepted as one of the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping websites, also the lesser known www.honeyrecipes.org.uk.

Lecture Title: “The Patterson Unit”

This presentation was formerly called “A New Approach”, the “Patterson Unit” came about by accident, after it appeared on the events page of a BKA website when somebody forgot the title!

I devised his simple system as a way of addressing some of the problems that modern beekeepers face, such as diseases and the problems many have with queens. Although there is little new in beekeeping, it brings together several things that beekeepers may already do in isolation. It encourages beekeepers to treat their apiaries as a whole, not as individual hives, keeping honey production colonies fully productive.

A number of colonies, two to six works well, with four being ideal, are put into units, each having a support colony that provides anything needed, rather that interfering with productive colonies.

This system works well for all beekeepers, whatever the number of colonies they have. Once set up, there are many more benefits than those originally intended, making the whole beekeeping operation more flexible, without the need for equipment other than what is in most apiaries. Examples are given of some ways of dealing with common situations we all face in a season, such as comb changes, replacing queens and making up winter losses.