Steve keeps around 40 colonies on high ground in North Wales with Snowdonia to the West and the Berwyn mountains to the East. He finds that for bees to thrive in his locality they have to be particularly well adapted. He thus heads a breeding group which selects for native traits that are typical of the local ecotype and makes use of his own queenright system and a mating apiary located in a semi-isolated valley. He is currently working with researchers at Bangor University to improve the techniques employed in the area for assessing colonies.
He is an active member of BIBBA, helping to coordinate the efforts of a number of BIBBA groups, mainly in North East Wales, and also teaches the intermediate beekeeping course for his local association. In recent years he has hosted BIBBA bee improvement courses at his home apiary.
Lecture Title: “My Approach to Bee Selection”
This presentation discusses the need for selective breeding and the advantages of the native honey bee Apis mellifera mellifera for the British climate, especially for more marginal districts. Desirable traits and selection procedures used locally are explained along with the breeding group structure on North East Wales. Currently selection techniques include various aspects of colony performance and traits supplemented by morphology assessments. The part played by beekeepers in past and ongoing studies by the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography of Bangor University are also explained. These studies are conducted by M.Sc and Ph.D students and cover topics such as genetic purity of the bees of the locality, development of instrumentation for tracking bees in flight and assessments of various techniques, including morphometric and nuclear, for determining purity.
The presentation also touches on projects conducted jointly with other breeding groups located outside the area.