There is growing concern amongst beekeepers of all abilities and experience about the ever-increasing importation of bees and queens. This is on several grounds, including the possibilities of introducing pests, diseases and pathogens, aggression in subsequent generations and unsuitability to our fickle climate. Defra has recently conducted a Queen Replacement Survey that shows the majority of beekeepers prefer home-reared queens but need help to produce them. In addition, many BKAs are unable to produce enough bees for their beginners and queens to head them. In response to the obvious need BIBBA are staging a series of one day regional events in early 2019 to help and encourage everyone from the small-scale beekeeper upwards and BKAs to produce bees and queens from local stock, by using simple techniques that may be little more than a variation of what many beekeepers already do and at little or no cost ...
BIBBA hosted nine events across the country (presented by Roger Patterson) called “Sustainability – Bees and Queens for Everybody using low cost, simple techniques". Over 1,300 beekeepers at all stages of their beekeeping careers attended the sellout event.
The day’s presentation was created by Roger after a Defra survey last year where 4,763 beekeepers fed back to a range of topical beekeeping questions around queen rearing.Some typical feedback included:
- Why purchase your own queens rather than rear your own? Not enough experience (41%), not enough time (17%), to improve colony temperament (35%) and to improve colony productivity (25%)
- What form of assistance would help you to raise more queens in the future? Mentoring (28%), training courses (47%)
- Would attending a course improve your queen rearing skills? Yes (60%), No (22%)
- Are you part of a bee breeding/improvement programme? No (95%)
- What do you think of mixing imported and native bee strains? Positive (12%), negative (46%), don’t know (42%)
- Would you support a national breeding programme for AMM in the UK? Yes (79%), No (8%)
If, as an alternative to the importation of queens, we established a National Bee Improvement Programme which selected and propagated the best local bees, a good reason could then be made for not using imported bees. Beekeepers would benefit in two ways, that is, in a reduction in the biosecurity risks associated with imports, and through the opportunity of supporting and participating in a project that could deliver a better-quality bee. Taking part in a scheme to sustainably improve our bees would provide a definite reason to refrain from the use of imported bees ...