Webinar Recordings

Webinar Recordings

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Adam Tofilski graduated in biology from the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. Since 1994 he worked as a teaching and research assistant at the Department of Apiculture of the University of Agriculture in Krakow; seven years later (2001), he defended a doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Biology and Earth Sciences of the Jagiellonian University. In 2002-2004, he held a fellowship at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, University of Sheffield, during which he collaborated with Francis Ratnieks. Since his return to Poland, he has been employed at the University of Agriculture in Krakow. In 2019 he was awarded the title of Professor.

How to protect native honey bees?

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Honey bees are native to the British Islands and Ireland. As with the whole of northern Europe, native subspecies is Apis mellifera mellifera, which is nowadays endangered by extinction because of imports of non-native bees by beekeepers. The native bees deserve to be protected because they are better adapted to local climate and survive better. The simplest method of protection is not buying any imported queens. It would be even more effective to identify local bees and requeen non-native colonies with native queens. One of the methods of protecting local bees is supporting feral populations. The feral population of honey bees is relatively small because there are too few suitable natural nesting sites. Empty beehives could be provided for feral colonies, but they need to be located separately at a distance from managed colonies.

Morphometric identification of honey bee subspecies

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Honey bee populations inhabiting different parts of the world differ from each other. There are about recognised 30 subspecies. Identification of the subspecies is relatively difficult because they can breed with each other producing hybrids and mongrels. The identification is usually based on molecular or morphometric methods. Morphometric methods do not require sophisticated equipment and can be done by most beekeepers. The identification can be based on many body parts including, legs and mouthparts, however, identification based on forewing alone is easier. Originally, the identification of honey bee subspecies was based on cubital index, which is a ratio of two wing vein lengths. Later, measurement of wing venation angles was introduced. Recently the angles and ratios were replaced by coordinates of landmarks which are placed in wing vein intersections.
Identification of single bees is imprecise, therefore, usually a colony is identified using more than 10 wings. Previously, wing measurements were made manually. Now a computer program is used to place landmarks on all wing images. The computer program calculates the average configuration of landmarks and provides similarity of the colony to a range of subspecies.
The colony is assigned to the subspecies with the highest similarity.

Webinars – Season Three

Tuesday 22nd September & Tuesday 29th September at 7.30pm – Jo Widdicombe – See below

Jo is a bee farmer managing about 150 colonies with one assistant. He is author of the book, ‘The Principles of Bee Improvement’ and is President of BIBBA. He is working on the plans for the National Bee Improvement Programme with other members of the BIBBA Committee.

Tuesday 22nd September at 7.30pm

Presentation:  “The National Bee Improvement Programme – Outline”

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  1. Aims
    • Do we need it?
    • What is wrong with current system?
    • Advantages of a sustainable improvement programme
  1. Can we devise a Programme that will work/produce good results?
    • Difficulties: hybridised stock; uncontrolled matings; multiple matings; inflow of imports
  1. How the system will work: breeder queens, drone production/flooding, repeat
  1. Selecting for qualities
  1. Selecting within a strain
  1. Seeking maximum participation. Funding the programme.
  1. Summary. Adapting and modifying

Tuesday 29th September at 7.30pm

Presentation:  “More details of the National Bee Improvement Programme and Participation”

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  1. Repeat aims. Reducing imports
  1. Active improvement. Record-keeping for selection of Breeders
  1. Details of record-keeping
  1. More details of how system would work re breeders and drones
  1. Working within (and establishing) a strain to make faster progress.
  1. Encouraging participation (and different levels of)
  1. Summary. Adapting and modifying

Tuesday 6th October at 7.30pm – Norman Carreck – Presentation:  “Global pandemics, bee imports and native bees” View Recording

Norman Carreck has been keeping bees for forty years, and has been a bee research scientist for twenty nine. He has lectured about bees on all continents where bees are kept, has written many scientific papers, book chapters, conference contributions and popular articles, has edited several books and regularly appeared in the media in many countries. He is a director of Carreck Consultancy Ltd and Bee Publishing Ltd and is based at the University of Sussex, UK.

Presentation:  “Global pandemics, bee imports and native bees”

The Covid-19 crisis has coincided with several new scientific papers which confirm that global movements of bees have led to the spread of bee viruses. In recent years the number of queens being imported into the UK has increased, despite evidence that “local” bees survive better. There is growing evidence that native dark European honey bees are alive and well in Britain and Ireland, but efforts to conserve them can be hampered by imports of exotic bees, and can such bees act as “invasive alien species” outside their native range? UK beekeepers say they would favour local bees, but queen rearing in the UK is hampered by the weather. Nonetheless, nationwide efforts could be made to improve the quality of UK’s existing stock of bees for varroa tolerance and docility.

Tuesday 13th October at 7.30pm – Peter Jenkins – “My 50 years experiences of imported bees affecting local stock”
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Peter Jenkins has kept bees since the age of 14, a period of over 50 years. He now keeps around 50 colonies of near native bees in and around the marginal areas of Cardiganshire. Having spent most of his working life as a Chartered Engineer working around the world on marine and naval projects has meant that, for many years, he had little time for regular 7 day hive inspections as advised in text books. Nevertheless he has harvested at least average crops of honey year on year using bees improved over lifetime by his father, a process he is now continuing following his father’s death in 2009.

Presentation:  “My 50 years experiences of imported bees affecting local stock”

The presentation is a history of how bees and beekeeping has changed in Cardiganshire since about 1960. Not only has beekeeping in Wales changed over the past 50 years, so has farming. Wales is predominantly a sheep and dairy area, wet and good for growing grass. In the 1960s a farm of 20 milking cows was typical. Today it is 200++. This extreme unsustainable intensification of agriculture has made much of the previously rich bee foraging pasture a floral desert. The presentation tells of how the local indigenous bees were adversely affected in terms of performance and temper by large scale imports by both commercial beekeepers and well intentioned amateurs; and how local beekeepers successfully overcame these difficulties. Many of these problems are shared by other dairy farming areas, there are third generation professional beekeepers in Normandy, northern France, who face exactly the same problems both in terms of bee imports and farming practices.

Tuesday 20th October at 7.30pm – Grace McCormack – “Resilient Honeybees”

Grace McCormack is a Professor in Zoology at NUI Galway. Her interests lie in evolutionary biology and particularly in using molecular data to understand how organisms are related to each other and the impacts this may have on conservation and on the evolution of organismal traits. The interaction between animals and their parasites/pathogens over evolutionary time is also of interest as is the use of molecular information in applied science such as biodiscovery (marine sponges) and apiculture (bees). Grace has published over 60 research papers and book chapters and currently has a team of three PhD students and a research assistant.   Grace has been beekeeping for about 7 years and currently manages 15 colonies. She became interested in free-living colonies in 2015 and has been investigating their survival, diversity and distribution since. She is interested both in conservation of Apis mellifera mellifera and resilience of untreated bees to varroa and other challenges introduced by humans.

Presentation:  “Resilient Honeybees”

Grace will present the results of the investigation of the wild honeybee study in Ireland including aspects of habitat choice, survival and genetic diversity of free-living bees. She will also introduce Honeybee Watch, an international project that aims to use citizen science (especially beekeepers) to assist in accumulating data on wild bees towards aiding their conservation. She will discuss current research on resilient honeybees both managed and wild and the use of data science to assist in honeybee conservation and bee improvement.

Tuesday 27th October, 3rd November & 10th November all at 7.30pm – Roger Patterson – See below

Roger was brought up on a farm in West Sussex and started beekeeping in 1963. He has travelled widely, speaking on and demonstrating practical beekeeping, where his down to earth approach gained by observation, lateral thinking and being taught by many colonies of honey bees for over 50 years is appreciated. He is privileged to have seen different bees being kept in different conditions, which, together with removing several hundred wild/feral colonies has formed his opinion of what bees are best suited to our fickle climate.

Roger encourages beekeepers to use simple management techniques and keep good tempered, healthy and productive bees that suit their locality. He has not bought an imported queen for well over 50 years, preferring to rear his own from the best of those that have survived locally.

He is a prolific writer and owns and manages Dave Cushman’s website www.dave-cushman.net, that is accepted as one of the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping websites.

In his three webinars, Roger will attempt to cover some points the other speakers may have omitted. He will address some of the issues that face beekeeping and some the previous speakers may have raised. Apart from a few short spells, honey bees have been imported on a fairly large scale for over 100 years. Importation doesn’t seem to have solved anything, other than to weaken the stock that is already here for short term gain.

Tuesday 27th October 7.30pm

Presentation:  “Where we are, how we got here and how we can move on…….”

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As with other things in life, beekeeping has changed. The modern beekeeper has access to “information” and bees that may not be appropriate to their region, where beekeepers in the past used bees that survived best in their district and managed them to suit.

Many beekeepers think that all bees are the same, but they aren’t, with some considerable differences, often with the same advice freely given, irrespective of the type of bee or the conditions. A colony of bees is telling you something all the time, the skill comes in interpreting what they are trying to say, which of course comes from observation and experience.

Many beekeepers judge their bees by the size of the honey crop, but is that always advisable? There are several reasons why a colony may produce more or less honey than another colony in the same apiary. We should also take into account the time taken on inspections and the amount of feeding required.

A colony of wild (feral) bees is subject to the forces of natural selection, which is often masked by beekeepers who, as a matter of course, over – feed, insulate and medicate their bees, just to keep them alive. Close observation of wild colonies has shown me they are often quite different from many managed colonies. The reasons for this will be discussed with a view to encouraging the keeping of bees with similar characteristics. What suits nature should suit us.

Tuesday 3rd November 7.30pm

Presentation:  “Some Fresh Ideas for Teaching and Learning”

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This webinar is not intended to tell teachers and BKAs what to do, it is to help them to include what was learnt in the last webinar in their teaching and to give beekeepers an idea of what to expect. Much of beekeeping teaching and advice, especially to beginners, is based on management methods that are more suited to imported bees than those that do well in our climate. This is for a variety of reasons that are well documented elsewhere, aggravated by the “cut and paste” mentality, where methods that are used in Florida or California can quickly be accessed online, even though they may not work well elsewhere.

Under discussion will be some of the myths and misinformation that have crept into beekeeping in recent years that have become part of mainstream teaching. BKAs are now the main source of teaching at a local level, with no effective appraisal of the skill and knowledge levels of those doing the teaching. I believe that BKAs should be better supported in their teaching role, so they can provide good sound teaching.

Tuesday 10th November 7.30pm

Presentation:  “Free Bees and Queens for Everyone and Plenty of Them”

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Many beekeepers and beekeeping associations buy bees and queens because they feel it is difficult to produce their own. Once you have a colony of bees, there is no need to ever buy bees again, as it is very easy to produce more, with opportunities often presented to cover the needs of small scale beekeepers during the summer. For larger scale beekeepers or BKAs, a little planning is needed, but rapid increase can be made. Queens can also be produced quite easily.

This webinar explores some possible options and benefits of producing bees and queens locally, which if done by BKAs will provide great opportunities to teach their members, as well as perhaps being an income stream. There is the added benefit of producing stock that is known to be survivors in the locality.

Tuesday 17th November  7.30pm – Presenters:  Panel drawn from previous speakers, Presentation:  “Answering Your Questions”

Presenters:  Panel drawn from previous speakers

Presentation:  “Answering Your Questions”

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The National Bee Improvement Programme is one of the most radical proposals ever put to beekeepers in our part of the world. We can only improve our bees if we understand them. Much of the teaching, especially of beginners, is based on imported bees, so there may need to be some modification in teaching and what has already been learnt. This will bring many questions, which this webinar has been set up to answer.

During the previous 8 webinars we will try to cover much of what beekeepers may ask. There will be time at the end of each session for questions, but inevitably there will be more. Now closed to questions.

Webinars – Season Two

Tuesday 18th August 7:30pm – Roger Patterson – “Dead Bees Don’t Buzz – Surviving the Winter “

Roger Patterson started beekeeping as a teenager in his native West Sussex in 1963, at one stage having 130 colonies. Although he had a short work related break without bees, he continued teaching and demonstrating. On returning, he discovered there were widespread problems with queens that he has publicised widely. He is a prolific writer, speaker and demonstrator of practical beekeeping, where his down to earth approach gained by observation, lateral thinking and being taught by many colonies of honey bees for over 50 years is appreciated.

His travels have allowed him to see different bees being kept in different conditions by different beekeepers, so increasing his knowledge, that he freely passes onto others. He is Apiary Manager of the Wisborough Green BKA.

Roger is passionate about the craft, encouraging beekeepers to learn the “basics” well, so they can understand how to solve their own problems, rather than consult sources that may be unreliable, as many are. 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.

Presentation:  “Dead Bees Don’t Buzz – Surviving the Winter “

This talk could have simply been called “Wintering”, but so many speakers have that title, often just giving the impression that wintering is something you don’t think about until the autumn. Bees are preparing well before winter and this presentation encourages beekeepers to do the same, but from a position of understanding how a wild colony does it. Before varroa, bees survived the winters very well. They had to, as the survival of the species depended on minimal winter losses.

In managed colonies, winter losses are much higher than they should be. Why is that? Are beekeepers doing something wrong? Are their bees unsuited to our conditions? Are they neglected? Are they misunderstood? Are they unhealthy? What can we do to lessen the chances of losses without “mollycoddling”? Should we try to reduce losses? Are losses a good thing? These are all questions that successful beekeepers should be asking themselves.

There are many things beekeepers can do to help the colony survive into spring, some are mentioned in this thought provoking presentation.

Tuesday 25th August 7:30pm – Lynfa Davies – “The Mystery of Mating”

Lynfa Davies lives in Aberystwyth and has kept bees with her husband, Rob, for 15 years. During this time she has worked her way through the BBKA assessments to become a Master Beekeeper and in 2019 gained the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB) which is the highest beekeeping qualification in the UK. She now enjoys sharing the information she has learned with other beekeepers and takes an active role in teaching new beekeepers in her local association and more widely across Wales.

Lynfa is a regular examiner for the BBKA and WBKA and sits on the WBKA Learning and Development Committee.

Lynfa currently has approximately 25 colonies which she mainly manages for honey production, something which often proves challenging in a wet West Wales! In addition she raises her own queens and uses these to produce nucleus colonies and to replace her own stock.

Presentation:  “The Mystery of Mating”.

Mated queens are something we tend to take for granted without giving too much thought as to how this ‘magic’ happens. Understanding when queens are ready for mating and where the action takes place is essential if we want to progress to queen rearing and bee breeding.

In addition the role of the drone is often overlooked and little consideration is given to them. This talk will not cover the complexities of bee breeding but instead will set the scene and describe what happens, where it happens and how we can influence it for our needs.

Tuesday 1st September 7:30pm – Roger Patterson – “Challenge what you are told……….”

In beekeeping, there are a lot of people who are eager to give information and advice, whether it is verbally or the written word in the form of books, leaflets, newsletters or screen. There are lots of myths and misinformation, often “cut and pasted” from other sources, which may simply be copying someone else’s mistake, who copied someone else’s mistake and so on. The same thing is then seen in many places and because it’s in print it’s believed to be reliable, but is it?

Inexperienced beekeepers may have difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff, but the more experienced a beekeeper gets, the more they realise that some of what they have been told, sometimes quite forcibly, may need reviewing. This presentation highlights a few topics that may not always be as we are told. It doesn’t rubbish the “standard information”, but gives reasons based on experiences that have been acquired during over half a century of practical beekeeping.

Tuesday 8th September 7:30pm – Peter Jenkins – “The KISS Approach”

Peter Jenkins has kept bees since the age of 14, a period of over 50 years. He now keeps around 50 colonies of near native bees in and around the marginal areas of Cardiganshire. Having spent most of his working life as a Chartered Engineer working around the world on marine and naval projects has meant that, for many years, he had little time for regular 7 day hive inspections as advised in text books. Nevertheless he has harvested at least average crops of honey year on year using bees improved over lifetime by his father, a process he is now continuing following his father’s death in 2009.

Many problems in beekeeping are caused by beekeepers reading books and listening to other people who read books, then rigidly following what they are told without understanding what the bees are trying to do. When things go wrong, as they often do in beekeeping, they blame the bees for not reading the book! With a little experience the more astute beekeeper will soon realise that much of what they have been taught in their early days of beekeeping as “fact” may not always be so.

“The KISS Approach” has been developed over many years of finding practical solutions on the hoof to some of the many beekeeping problems that all beekeepers face. Following the books often gets you into trouble but they aren’t very good at getting you out of it. Things that can work or get you out of trouble are rarely covered in standard books, so you have to work solutions out for yourself, but you need knowledge and experience to do it. In short, this presentation is about how to achieve maximum output for minimum input.

Webinars – Summer 2020

BIBBA ran its first set of six webinars between 18th June and 8th July. These were very ably presented by Roger Patterson and hosted by Nick Mawby.
Before the webinars started, there was a discussion whether to have the facility to permit 100 attendees or, by paying a bit extra on the Zoom licence, increase the capacity to 500. We soon had over 500 people registered to attend!
The statistics have been a delight to see.
There have been more than 2000 viewings so far.

Early Years:-

Thurs 18 June. 7pm   Keep Your Swarms to Yourself  

This will help the beekeeper understand what is happening in a colony when it is preparing to swarm, so they can understand what the various swarm control methods are trying to achieve. Triggers for swarming will be discussed, including some that are often overlooked. A simple method of swarm control will be described that doesn’t result in extra colonies, as many swarm control methods do.

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Fri 26 June. 7pm         Queen Cells. Their Recognition and Uses

Beekeepers often decide what type of queen cells they have in their colonies by where they are placed on the comb. This can be very unreliable, often resulting in the wrong action taken. Attendees will be given some clear guidance on what to look for, so they can manage colonies accordingly. There will be tips on how to use queen cells.

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Thurs 2 July. 7pm       Simple Colony Increase

Beginners are often told to have more than one colony, but aren’t always taught how to do it. If you have a queenright colony, there is no need to buy another colony, as there are many opportunities to make increase.
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Tue 23 June. 7pm       The 2 frame nuc

Roger has used this simple and economical method of making increase for well over 40 years. It is not well known because many think that it is too small, although in recent years more beekeepers are using it successfully. Attend this webinar to find out how to do it.

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Mon 29 June. 7pm     The Patterson Unit

This simple method treats the whole apiary as one, rather than as a group of individual colonies. It was originally introduced to overcome the problems many beekeepers have with queens, by bringing together several techniques. It keeps honey production colonies fully productive and is very versatile.

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Wed 8 July. 7pm   Colony Increase for the Established Beekeeper

Established and larger scale beekeepers often need a constant supply of nucs, so they may use different techniques than the beekeeper with only a few colonies. Included in this webinar is a method, where in good conditions 10 or more colonies that are strong enough to go into winter can be made from one strong colony in the spring. It can be used by local BKAs to provide nucs for beginners and can also be modified to provide fewer nucs if required.
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