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BIBBA Monthly – December 2020

[…]– Playing your part" 23.       Roger Patterson          “Understanding queen rearing methods” March 2.         Roger Patterson          “Bee Improvement. How I did it” 9.         Keith Pierce                 "Breeding and improving our native bee. A pragmatic approach, even if you are surrounded by non-native bees" 16.       Kevin Thorn                 “Working Together to Improve Local Stock” 23.       Roger […]

Webinars – Summary

Recordings of the majority of webinars are also available on our YouTube Channel Don’t forget to sign up here, for free, to learn more about our future […]

Section 1.3 – Participation

[…]– Publication with articles from BIBBA Monthly Publications and guidance on bee improvement and queen rearing Support for local Bee Improvement Groups Lectures, demonstrations, workshops on all aspects of bee improvement Support us in developing a hardy, docile and productive bee. 2. Sign up as a Supporter of the National Bee Improvement Programme (NatBIP). (Free) Supporters of the scheme are […]

Section 2.1 – How NatBIP will work

[…]of our colonies. Producing the next generation From our completed record cards, we can choose the queen or queens to rear further queens from. Some will want to rear numerous queens from a few selected queens, others may prefer just one or two offspring from numerous queens, perhaps up to half of available stocks. It is important not to narrow […]

Section 4.14 – NatBIP 1 Record Card Instructions

[…]Association Queen or Colony Origin: Source or origin of Queen and/or Colony Name or No. of Strain: Queen Name or No.: Name/no. if breeder Queen Mark/Age: Letter for year colour. Circled if marked Queen description: Colour, stripes, clipped? Apiary Name: Name or location of apiary Hive No.: Number or ID of hive Hive Type: Type of hive + Brood box […]
Read more » Section 4.14 – NatBIP 1 Record Card Instructions

Section 8.1 – Dominating an Area with the Selected Strain

[…]So, it is suggested that feeding is started three weeks prior to the start of your first round of queen rearing. Also, a frame of drone comb or foundation can be inserted in the breeder colonies. Once it has been laid up it can be removed and replaced with another frame of drone comb or foundation.  The laid up frame […]
Read more » Section 8.1 – Dominating an Area with the Selected Strain

NatBIP News No3

[…]assessing the qualities of our colonies, and therefore of our queens, so that we can select a queen, or queens, to use to produce the next generation of queens. Ideally, have a record card for each colony (i.e. one for each queen) and assess the colony on each inspection. The ‘NatBIP Record Card’ can be downloaded from the BIBBA website […]

NatBIP News No4

[…]and become part of the movement towards sustainable beekeeping. Jo Widdicombe Breeder queens and queen-rearing As the active season gets well under way, we can continue to monitor the qualities of our queens using our own system of record-keeping or download the record card from the NatBIP GUIDE on the BIBBA website (search As we assess the qualities of […]

NatBIP News No5

[…]beekeepers believe wet grafting is advantageous. Can you run through the ‘numbers’ regards Queen Rearing - from egg to sealed QC, to hatch to mating and laying? Day 1              Egg laid Day 4              1-day old larva grafted and transferred to cell-raising colony Day 8/9           Cells are sealed Day 14            Distribute sealed cells (that is 1 week + 3 days […]

NatBIP News No6

[…]locally adapted bee. God Save the Queen! So, June is when we get into our queen rearing proper – excitement and disappointment abound, but our plucky NatBIP News volunteers are a persistent bunch! Phil – our beginner – has relied on the natural method of queen rearing, using the bees swarming instinct to produce new queens. By performing an artificial […]

Lune Valley New Breeding Apiary

[…]new to beekeeping, our initial intention is to focus on producing splits. We may move on to queen rearing at a later stage. As the season comes to a close, we have a new, wheelchair accessible, all-weather base for our breeding apiary, six colonies of fairly pure Amm, all housed in Lune Valley Long Hives and six solid stands, each […]

The Native Irish Honey Bee

[…]in the 2020s as our knowledge of honey bee genetics increases), conservation, bee improvement and queen rearing, and a review of the past, present, and future for the native honey bee in Ireland. This is not just an excellent read, it is one of those books that you will keep going back to time after time. reviewed by Selwyn Runnett […]


[…]need for a physical teaching and resources apiary to spread and nurture the craft of beekeeping. Queen Rearing Made Easy: The Punched Cell Method Raising queens using the Punched Cell method has been in use for over a century. Richard Smailes published “Raise Your Own Queens by the Punched Cell Method” about half a century ago. Little has been published since. Few […]

Sandringham Report 2021

[…]late. The bees at Sandringham were not particularly strong colonies which would be needed if any queen rearing was to take place. So queens were removed from two of my other colonies to allow them to be united with the two already at Sandringham. As a point of interest, as I was not keen to kill the queens, I put […]

BIBBA YouTube Videos

[…]visit our YouTube Channel. Jump to: Just Started | The Early Years | Intermediate/Advanced | Queen rearing | General Interest | Live @ the Hive | NatBIP Just Started or about to For those who are considering starting beekeeping or who have just started, perhaps in their first full year. The Early Years – Sound Foundations in Beekeeping These titles […]

Why do the bees rear so many drones?

[…]drones? This piece aims to explain: why the production of a large number of drones is the inevitable consequence of the free mating of queens in drone congregations; and why this proliferation of drones is a key factor in ensuring the adaptability and resilience of the honey bee through the ages. “Drones in their season seem necessary to the working […]

NatBIP News No8

[…]to suit your own requirements and allow you to select for the qualities that are important to you. Queen rearing Some relish the challenge of queen rearing, whilst others find it a bit daunting. Techniques described in the Guide, can be as simple as building a colony up on two brood boxes and then dividing into two, to produce a […]

BOBBI Spring 2022 Newsletter

[…]members every Saturday and they spent the day with Brian Green and I, going through the entire queen rearing process.   We hope to do something similar this year, so watch this space for dates and times. Joining BBOBIIf anyone from Bucks, Berks or Oxfordshire would be interested in joining BBOBI, please feel free to contact Brian Green directly and we […]

June 2022 BIBBA Monthly

[…]Full Article The reader may groan and sigh, “not another queen-rearing method,” and I agree that there seems to be an endless number of ways of rearing queens, including the Miller, Hopkins, Alley, Harden and Harding methods. Although sometimes seen as a black art, queen-rearing is an important part of beekeeping, and every beekeeper should have access to queens of […]

BIFA feedback

[…]what the bees are naturally doing over the course of their year, and he took the mystique out of rearing the queens you want – for the characteristics that suit you. He showed that it is possible – actually better – to use our own queens, raised locally, rather than buying in queens that we don’t really know much about. […]

Laesoe 2004

[…]into Carniolan and Italian colonies is difficult. Workers of these two latter races often build queencells even when an introduced A. m. mellifera queen is laying, and will remove her eggs from the cells. Nils Drivdal from Norway sketched out his view of the long-term history of bees in Northern Europe. The forests in which honey hunting and log hive […]

John Dew’s Views – the Best Bee

[…]the cluster like the fur of a mammal. In late summer, perhaps because of the diminution of brood rearing, the amount of biopterin in the larval food is greatly increased and ‘winter bees’ are formed, in which protein and fat accumulate in the ‘fat bodies’ in the sub-dermal layers of the abdomen. These bees are still physiologically ‘young’ in spring […]

Terry Hitchman

[…]member of BIBBA for approximately 20 years. He purchased his first Apis mellifera mellifera virgin queen at the East Midlands bee breeding group’s Locko Park open day in 1992 and now has 25 colonies of native or near native bees. He has been a member of the Stratford-upon-Avon Beekeepers’ Association committee for 19 years, Chairman for 10 years and, together […]

What is Apis mellifera mellifera?

What is Apis mellifera mellifera? Apis mellifera mellifera, Linnaeus 1758 is a subspecies and northern geographical race of Apis mellifera, the western honeybee. It may be subdivided into many local ecotypes. Its various vernacular names include: “Dark European Honeybee” (English), “L’abeille noire” (French), “Die dunkle Biene” (German) and “Det mörka Nordiska Biet” (Swedish). Apis mellifera mellifera is distinguished from other […]

Contact Us

If you have a query, check to see if the answer is in the FAQs. If not, please contact the appropriate person from the list below:   Chair Selwyn Runnett email Membership Nick Mawby email Website Nick Mawby email Secretary Richard Senior email Treasurer Alla Neal email Publicity & Marketing email Groups Brian Holdcroft email Scientific & Technical Selwyn Runnett […]

A Native Dark Bee Project

[…]to give satisfactory mating success by drone flooding using drone comb in selected hives. Grafted queen cell A.m.m. queen produced by grafting. Year 3. 2012 A suitably remote site for mating of grafted A.m.m. virgins was needed, and Eoghain MacLean; Director of the Scottish Natural Heritage Reserve at Kinlochewe gave permission to site a mating apiary on the mountain nature […]

Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda “Producing Honey Under Difficult Conditions”

[…]variant of the dark bee provides good yields even in poor summers. Due to its conservative brood-rearing nature, the native Irish honey bee is able to respond rapidly to unpredictable and intermittent honey flows and is very thrifty with regard to stored honey. Other characteristics of the native bee that play key roles in honey production are flying behavior, temperament, […]
Read more » Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda “Producing Honey Under Difficult Conditions”

Colony Assessment Criteria

[…]This can be done by assessing colonies against a set of criteria that you want in your bees, using queen cells from colonies displaying those criteria and culling those that don’t. Clearly these criteria need to be something that is achievable, not something that isn’t. What beekeepers need to remember is they usually only have influence over half the parentage […]

Genetic Identification and Introgression Analysis

Beekeeping activities, especially queen trading, have shaped the distribution of honey bee (Apis mellifera) subspecies in Europe, and have resulted in extensive introductions of two eastern European C-lineage subspecies (A. m. ligustica and A. m. carnica) into the native range of the M-lineage A. m. mellifera subspecies in Western Europe. As a consequence, replacement and gene flow between native and […]
Read more » Genetic Identification and Introgression Analysis

Clive de Bruyn “BIBBA in the Isle of Man 40+ years ago”

[…]with the DC area above the Port St. Mary Golf course. The drone comets that formed to chase our queen sent aloft, tethered to a couple of helium balloons, remains one of the highpoints of my beekeeping career. Our efforts culminated in watching a queen being pursued and mated at head height. …much to the indifference of my five year […]
Read more » Clive de Bruyn “BIBBA in the Isle of Man 40+ years ago”

Caging Virgin Queens

[…]plastic), attendant workers (present or absent) and food type (sugar candy, honey, or both). Ten queens were tested in each of the 12 combinations. Queens were reared using standard beekeeping methods (Doolittle/grafting) and emerged from their cells into vials held in an incubator at 34C. All 12 combinations gave high survival (90 or 100%) for three days but only one […]

Michael Maunsell “The Drone – More to its life than we may think?”

[…]inside the hive affect drone numbers? Workers can only produce drone offspring if hopelessly queen less, but do they produce drones in a queenright colony? I will explain a little on drone genetics and its consequences and sex determination in the honey bee and how diploid drones arise. I will outline the job description of drones and include some behavior […]
Read more » Michael Maunsell “The Drone – More to its life than we may think?”

The health and status of the feral honeybee population of the UK

[…]the feral population. Only 12 colonies were seen to persist for 2.5 years, although the original queen swarmed or was replaced during this time. Feral colonies were shown to be genetically similar to local managed colonies, differing, albeit significantly, by only 2.3%. The implications for feral honeybee health are explored. Feral colonies are highly introgressed and do not represent remnant […]
Read more » The health and status of the feral honeybee population of the UK

Paul Cross “Development of a miniature vibration energy harvester for battery-less tracking of honey bees”

[…]their environment. To date, no technology exists to effectively track such things as foraging, queen and drone flight paths or enable the long-term evaluation of navigation loss of bees exposed to potentially harmful pesticides such as neonicotinoids. This is because the monitoring of bee movements requires effective radio-tracking in the field, which is currently constrained by transmitter size, battery life […]
Read more » Paul Cross “Development of a miniature vibration energy harvester for battery-less tracking of honey bees”

Keith Pierce “Apideas: Their operation and maintenance”

[…]area of the Phoenix Park and the Liffey Valley, including the gardens of suburban Castleknock. My queens are naturally open mated, but I have been flooding the vicinity of my apiary with drones from my own native dark bees. Each year I over winter more colonies of bees than I need, keeping only the best and requeening those that do […]
Read more » Keith Pierce “Apideas: Their operation and maintenance”

Dorian Pritchard “Selective breeding without inbreeding; where’s the happy medium?”

[…]lines. Breeding from the best can achieve this, but this strategy and the use of “multi-breeder queens” also accumulates recessive alleles, some of which are harmful. In the single-copy, “heterozygous” state recessives are unexpressed in females, but when “homozygous” (i.e. present as two identical copies), they can cause serious detriment. In honey bees a particular problem arises from homozygosity of […]
Read more » Dorian Pritchard “Selective breeding without inbreeding; where’s the happy medium?”

New Approach to the Mitotype Classification

[…]black honeybee Apis mellifera mellifera L. is today the only subspecies of honeybee which is suitable for commercial breeding in the climatic conditions of Northern Europe with long cold winters. The main problem of the black honeybee in Russia and European countries is the preservation of the indigenous gene pool purity, which is lost as a result of hybridization with […]

Family Member

[column-half-1] If more than one person at the same address wishes to be a BIBBA member: The first person at any address will pay the full BIBBA membership of £20 but any additional persons living at the same address can join as family members for the reduced rate of £10. If two people are paying together at the same time […]

The black bee, an increasingly rare pearl

[…]its reproduction. In the past, domesticated bees could become wild again when swarming, when the queen left the hive with half the inhabitants to found a new swarm, and conversely, they could become domestic by passing from a natural cavity to the hive. Under the current degraded ecological conditions, the fewer natural swarms no longer last as well.  Mostly, the evolution […]

BIPCo 6th Annual Bee Improvement Day

[…]all those interested in improving the quality of their bees through the assessment, selection and rearing of queens and drones With guest speakers including: Roger Patterson, Deputy Chairman BIBBA * Trade Stands in attendance * Complimentary teas, coffee & biscuits * Light lunches & homemade cakes available Tickets are £8 for members and £10 for non-members for those who register […]

BIM 43 – Spring 2014

[…]a major problem in bee breeding is the difficulty of ensuring pure matings for their selected queens. If this problem can be solved, much more rapid progress will be possible in improving the native bee by selection. Ownership of a Swarm – Brian Dennis Your bees don’t swarm, but … In a talk on Bees and the Law, the speaker […]

BIBBA Open Day. Wakefield.

[…]by simple methods (the bees often do it for you!) Making up and maintaining nuclei Introducing queens and queen cells   Cost: £18/head before 25th May, £20 afterwards. Includes refreshments and lunch. Powered by […]