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Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part two

[…]be useful. You may wish to start to include more selection criteria like low swarming tendency, calm on the comb, good spring build up, frugal, fly at low temperature etc. Usually best to add these one at a time rather than trying to select for multiple traits. I operate on the basis that I propagate from queens in their third […]
Read more » Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part two

BIM 49 – Spring 2017

[…]the group to use Their best queen to breed from it will be all the better. Each breeding session only requires the use of one queen and the production of eggs can be completed without moving the chosen one’s location. All members BIM 49 – Spr ing 2017 3 4 BIM 49 – Spr ing 2017 of the group, including […]

BIBBA Open Day – Improve Your Bees

[…]to inform attendees of the basic principles of bee improvement, together with some simple suggestions on how the ordinary beekeeper can improve their own bees. There will be several demonstrations with live colonies on topics such as:- Colony handling, assessment and recording Methods of raising queen cells Making up and managing standard frame nuclei, queen and cell introduction Cell raising […]

How I select my ‘Breeder Queens’

[…]full inspection I may have found a colony which is uniform native in appearance, (5), docile and calm on the comb (5), and has over-wintered well (5), so is well poised to develop rapidly as the spring comes on. Now I can look how this colony performed last year. My preference is for 2-year-old queens (or older) because then I […]

Queens: Collaboration and how to make it easy on yourself and your bees – by Karl Colyer

[…]but it was also useful to put the date that Roger sent me the email with identification information on so I knew which cage 1 it was. Use any system you wish but expect total confusion if you don’t have any system in place. Make notes of how the bees arrived. This was very useful with the grafted larvae the […]
Read more » Queens: Collaboration and how to make it easy on yourself and your bees – by Karl Colyer

BIBBA Monthly – December 2020

[…]as often happens. This is only one of several reasons why a colony can be queenless, other common ones are:- A colony may have swarmed and the beekeeper doesn’t check to see if a queen is present, but removes all the queen cells, so they are hopelessly queenless. A queen has emerged but not returned from her mating flight. Until […]

Section 4.14 – NatBIP 1 Record Card Instructions

[…]One side only is 0.5. Enter the number of frames that have brood on both sides. Frames with brood on one side only mark as 0.5. (S,M or L can be used to indicate approximate amount of brood the frames). Native Appearance* 1-5 (Non-native -> Native) Assess on each visit. Summary is an average of last 3 assessments. This measure […]
Read more » Section 4.14 – NatBIP 1 Record Card Instructions

NatBIP News No3

[…](although the NatBIP card can be used for both purposes) and specifically provides information on which queens are worth rearing offspring from. I have already started assessing my colonies for the characteristics that I look for. Most qualities are assessed on a 1-5 scale which is easy to use (from bad to good, similar to a review using a 1 […]

A Simple Method of Simultaneously Raising Queens and Producing Nuclei

[…](BIBBA) conference on the Isle of Man, I was lucky enough to attend an excellent presentation on queen rearing by the Dutch commercial beekeeper Jeroen Vorstman.  I had been raising queens myself quite successfully for some time using the Ben Harden method and various versions of the Cloake board system.  These are both excellent systems, and only require a little […]
Read more » A Simple Method of Simultaneously Raising Queens and Producing Nuclei

Find, Mark & Clip the Queen

[…]frame of pollen is reached the search for the queen intensifies as she is quite likely to be seen on one of the brood combs and generally on a comb of eggs and young brood. The more bees that cover the comb the harder it is to see her so there is a distinct advantage in doing this in the […]

Jutland Visit

[…]behaviour by the freeze brood method. He says he will raise 30 sister queens but after selection only retains about 5. He discounts any with chalkbrood. Or any with signs of nosema He starts grafting on 20 May and grafts every day until 20 July aiming to produce about 85 grafts daily, after the starter colonies he moves them to […]

Laesoe 2004

[…]a short but packed programme of talks, Danish researcher Klaus Langschwager gave some observations on the mating behaviour of the Danish dark bee, which is better adapted to the heather than other races and gives the best crops. Drones are produced early in large numbers, are full of semen and are kept in the hives very late. Thus the race […]

John Harding Queen Rearing

[…]my queen cell, and for protection I cut up 1inch length of hose pipe and make a small slit on one end. Place this gently over the queen cell slit first and this will be more than adequate to protect your investment. On that evening I feed with a jar of syrup, replacing when necessary. Feeding does stimulate the virgin […]

Honey bee origins, evolution & diversity – Ashleigh Milner

[…]and the recruitment of foragers by “dance language”. The accurate dissemination of information concerning direction and distance of forage areas leads to efficient exploitation of food sources. Whereas representatives of most types of bee were indigenous to all the continents, bees belonging to the genus Apis were originally to be found only in the Old World, namely Asia, Africa and […]
Read more » Honey bee origins, evolution & diversity – Ashleigh Milner

A Native Dark Bee Project

[…]However temperature/humidity may have to be more carefully controlled under different transportation conditions. On arrival at the home apiary brood sections were taken from their boxes and pinned between the brood frames of queenless starter nucs. The next day (20th July) a Chinese grafting tool and scalpel were used to graft the smallest larvae into frames holding plastic cups each […]

Colony Assessment Criteria

[…]This is often seen as not being important, but it gives you a very good idea if your selection is on track or not. It is more difficult to breed from colonies where the workers are different colours, as the queens raised will also be different colours and will probably show differing characteristics. Roger […]

BBOBI Group – March April 2019 Newsletter

[…]in March and April. Tried to keep it short, but please get in touch if you need more information on any of the topics. Links and names have been included to try help you Google your way. As with all our communications – please make contact if you wish to be removed from the list. We’ll start with the wider […]

Roger Patterson “The Patterson Unit”

[…]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 […]

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

[…]of drones to our honey bee colonies. What governs the number of drones in a colony? Is it the drone comb, the season, the forage or stores, etc? How do the numbers or ratios work out? How do relationships inside the hive affect drone numbers? Workers can only produce drone offspring if hopelessly queen less, but do they produce drones […]
Read more » Michael Maunsell “The Drone – More to its life than we may think?”

Some history of the East Midlands group

[…]our base. These include Spurn Point on the East Coast, and the Elan Valley in Wales. The restriction on movement of bees when varroa arrived put an end to such travelling, and over the last few years our stocks have become more hybridised. The spread of varroa throughout England and Wales has meant there are now no restrictions on movement. […]

The Dark Bee Apis mellifera mellifera in the United Kingdom

[…]& late in the day Moderate swarmers White cappings Little propolis Resistant to disease Quiet on combs Not unduly aggressive Slow to develop in early spring Small brood nest Settle down early for winter Consume little in winter C: Brother Adam, 1966.8 Less prolific. Long lived. Long flight range. Thrifty. Incomparable cappings. Speed of comb building. Extreme susceptibility to acarine […]
Read more » The Dark Bee Apis mellifera mellifera in the United Kingdom

Wight Bee Improvement Group

[…]using IOW mongrel stock, members will be encouraged to keep records of all their own stock, using only those considered to be worthy of passing on their bloodlines. At present no drone rearing is possible due to the variety of both beekeepers and imported stock. Hopefully this can be improved as the group increases in members and stock Specific short-term […]

Neville Dearden

[…]1970s and was delighted when that hive was awarded “Best invention in Beekeeping” at the National Honey Show. Designing the “HoneyHome” hive involved several discussions with the late Colin Butler at Rothamstead, and, the late Adrian Waring’s paper on Bee Space stated “The horizontal bee space in this hive was perfect. There was never any brace comb built there.” Until […]

Bucks Berks & Oxon Bee Improvement (BBOBI ) – RG9

[…]encourage beekeepers to actively seek out their best hive and encourage drone production using drone comb, and practice drone removal in hives of poor temperament. Poor drones are one of the main reasons for poor queens. They have a significant impact on the longevity of queens, because of poor mating and infertility.  This is thought to be caused by poor […]
Read more » Bucks Berks & Oxon Bee Improvement (BBOBI ) – RG9

Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part one

[…]better stock in your area. I find colonies given drone foundation use it and tend not to build drone comb elsewhere which keeps your comb tidy (although one of my colonies builds three frames of drone comb regardless!). Just put one frame of drone foundation, one in from the outside frame or in your best colonies two frames – one […]
Read more » Bee Improvement Strategies – Kevin Thorn -part one

Conserving black bees

[…]for an island mating station. However, the Hebridean islands are not the place to risk a pension on a queen rearing business! Swarm inspections start around mid-June and finish at the end of July. To minimize colony disruption, colonies with double brood boxes are split, tipped upwards and inspected for cells on the frame bottoms of the top box. It […]


[…]online, but as with books, there are a large number that are poor quality, inappropriate for our conditions or give poor advice. There seems to be an urge by beginners to make a video about their new hobby and display it for the world to see, when they may lack adequate knowledge or experience. Beekeepers, especially beginners, may have difficulty […]

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 5.1 – Queen Rearing Methods

[…]or primed cups (that is ones that have been in the hive for a least a day), in every other position on the grafting bar, and found that it makes no difference to acceptance. The next stage At some point in the following days, we will check for acceptance, to satisfy our curiosity, and so we know how many homes […]

Section 8.1 – Dominating an Area with the Selected Strain

[…]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 is then placed in one of […]
Read more » Section 8.1 – Dominating an Area with the Selected Strain

Recommended YouTube Videos

[…]there are many of dubious accuracy, giving poor advice that may be inappropriate for our conditions. As there is no vetting procedure to display educational material online, what is the inexperienced beekeeper to believe? BIBBA strongly believes that beekeeping information should be high quality, so we have made it easy by asking an experienced practical beekeeper to recommend a selection […]

East Midlands 1998

[…]to prevent them entering the cell and getting trapped. Conclusion One important ingredient to the success of the East Midlands Group, is the enthusiasm of its members. The co-operation is first class, and the discipline they show in sticking to the arrangements for carrying out the work is excellent, for in queen rearing one cannot put off a job even […]

Bee Improvement Days 2021

[…]to attend this course. Not only do we work at the hives, but bees can be brought into other areas on combs and clothing. There is always a chance of being stung. Circumstances vary, where some locations may not be in an area that enjoys a speedy ambulance service. It is also unlikely there will be tutors or attendees who […]

NatBIP News No6

[…]20 cells that we set up we only had 4 cells sealed. We weren’t sure if it was something we had done wrong or if there was another reason – we’re hoping Jo Widdecomb can give us some guidance on this. Needless to say, the children were really pleased with the 4 queen cells that were eventually sealed and felt […]

Lune Valley New Breeding Apiary

[…]treating with chemicals letting the bees draw out their own comb rather than using foundation only taking off honey in the spring if there is a genuine surplus avoiding artificial feeding unless really necessary using well insulated hives with eco-floors only acquiring bees from reliable, local sources encouraging the creation of pollinator patches. We were fortunate to find a 2.7 […]

Sandringham Report 2021

[…]Approval was given for it to start and for BIBBA to provide funding. These are Eric’s reflections on the first year of the Project: Eric Marshall writes: Little did I think when I dropped an e-mail to Brian Holdcroft what the consequence would be. I was simply interested in finding one or two local beekeepers who were interested in raising […]

Why do the bees rear so many drones?

[…]drone foundation is available, it is rarely used by most. Since the advent of wired foundation, only the exceptional practitioner wires his or her own frames and therefore has the option of using just a strip of foundation at the top of the frame, embedded in the top wire (see photo below) - a method that frees the bees to […]

BIBBA Open Day. Wakefield.

[…]added risk of bringing in disease. What will I learn? There will be presentations and demonstrations on a number of topics including:- Colony handling techniques How to assess colonies for behaviour Setting simple criteria for what you want in your bees Raising queens by simple methods (the bees often do it for you!) Making up and maintaining nuclei Introducing queens […]