Updates from the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme and National Honey Monitoring Scheme
Dr Claire Carvell and Dr Anna Oliver, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
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Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_YDxzBYfXS3KHsT6yhYd0mQ
For the last in our series of our country lectures we will hear about two world leading monitoring schemes run by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH, Wallingford). Both schemes give us important insights at time when many species of insect pollinators are in decline in the UK.
Dr Claire Carvell, an ecologist, leads the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme. Claire will tell us about “The UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS): four years on”. This scheme is the world’s first national scheme generating systematic data on the changes in the populations pollinating insects. Claire will also up-date us on two new pollinator surveys (10-minute Flower-Insect Timed Counts and a more intensive 1 km square survey) which are running throughout the UK and let you know how you can get involved!
Dr Anna Oliver, a molecular biologist, will be presenting the story so far on ‘The National Honey Monitoring Scheme: Using citizen science to understand the foraging habits of UK honeybees’
Many of you will know of the scheme which aims to monitor how the foraging habits of UK honeybees respond to a changing environment. Further, if these changes can be used to provide information on the health of our countryside. It is the first UK-wide analysis of its kind, and uses advanced DNA barcoding techniques to identify traces of pollen in honey. Find out how to include your honey samples in the scheme.
The BBKA Spring Convention – An Armchair Event
Thursday Evening 15th April to Sunday 18th April
Registration now open. To Register follow this link: https://springconvention.bbka.org.uk/access/register
An event for all levels of experience, with a mix of over twenty practical and scientific presentations, plus more social events. You need to register to take part, but free-to-view content includes:
• Dr David Aston’s Keynote Address, 7.30pm, Thursday 15th April;
• the Market Place, for your favourite beekeeping equipment suppliers plus other exhibitors;
• the Beacon Schools Presentation, 3.30pm Sunday 18th April.
Those wishing to attend the full event need to pay for entry:
The fee is £10 for all three days, if registered in advance, (by Thursday 15th April) or £12 during the event.
Complimentary registration for BBKA Junior and School members is available. A parent /guardian/teacher should email email@example.com, by 9th April giving the junior/ school member’s name, BBKA number (if available) and e-mail address for sign-in.
There is a handy ‘pull-out’ summary of the Convention Programme in the centre pages of April’s BBKA News.
The Full Programme may be found here: https://springconvention.bbka.org.uk/lobby
The Central Association of Bee-Keepers
Genetic Testing of Honey Bees for U.K. Beekeepers
An Open Talk by the Central Association of Bee-Keepers
The talk is open both to members and non-members of the CABK and will be delivered by Mark Barnett, Matthew Richardson & David Wragg.
The Three Presenters
Mark Barnett, Matthew Richardson & David Wragg, the co-founders of the Community Interest Company (CIC) named Beebytes Analytics, will talk about the research that led to this opportunity at the Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh), the way the CIC was established and the R&D that should lead to a honey bee genotyping service for UK beekeepers.
Based at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Innovation Centre, the CIC will initially be providing genetic services testing for introgression of C-lineage in M-lineage honey bees (analysis of the amount of DNA from Carniolan and Italian honey bees present in dark honey bees).
WUSAT-3 – Satellite Wildlife Monitoring
by Bill Croft
Meeting is open to all WBKA Members and will be supplemented with Videos once they are available.
Please register via the Zoom Link or contact Dave Bonner for further details.
Never Waste a Queen Cell
by Tony Jefferson
Far too much emphasis is placed upon queen rearing and not on the wider aspects of bee breeding, such as the selection of quality breeding stock. Bees have far more years experience producing good quality queen cells then we have, so why not keep things simple and let them produce their own queen cells?
The talk will discuss the importance of positive selection of breeding stock, primarily drones, consider that during the summer months every beekeeper destroys many good quality cells in their efforts to control swarming, not having equipment to utilize the spare cells.
Hopefully it will lead to questioning why it is perceived as difficult to produce queens.
The main issue is how to use surplus queen cells, get the queens mated/laying, evaluating them for performance, then deciding how/which ones to use to build up into productive colonies.
This talk will explain in simple and practical methods how to select good quality breeding stock, the use of simple non specialist equipment that does not rely on keeping to dates/timetables, the difficulty on the NE coast due to unpredictable weather in the key breeding time in May.
Tony Jefferson is the middle of 3 generations of Jefferson beekeepers, he describes his beekeeping as, “a hobby that got out of control a long time ago”.
Up to 150 colonies have been managed between Father Allan, Tony and Nephew Richard in the weather challenged North East coast around the Whitby area. Tony now heads up the empire, whilst still working full time as a high voltage engineer.
Through many years of practical observations, using WBC hives for winter, limited use of queen excluders, use of brood and half, glass quilts and own design of floors, all based on simple techniques. The beekeeping practice is all based around 2 weeks of good weather in August for the prized heather crop.
Bee breeding and active selection of drones as opposed to queen rearing is his passion, especially concentrating on the progression of the black local bee.
BBKA Module Exams
The BBKA will be holding the spring Module Exams in electronic form, with online invigilation.
Anyone who has already applied and does not want to take the exam online can have their entry transferred to November 2021 at no cost, when we are planning to offer paper exams
The National Honey Monitoring Scheme: Using citizen science to understand the foraging habits of UK honeybees
by Dr Anna Oliver
Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/94602701942
Dr Anna Oliver is a molecular biologist working on the National Honey Monitoring Scheme at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH, Wallingford).
The scheme, backed by both the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and the Bee Farmers Association (BFA), was set up in July 2018 and aims to monitor how the foraging habits of UK honeybees respond to a changing environment. Further, if these changes can be used to provide information on the health of our countryside. It is the first UK-wide analysis of its kind, and uses advanced DNA barcoding techniques to identify traces of pollen in honey. The scheme comes at a time when many species of insect pollinators are in decline in the UK.
2018 saw 200 beekeepers from across the UK participating and identified plants favoured by honeybees, regional differences in foraging habits as well as showing the importance of some invasive plant species. 2019 was an even better year with almost 600 beekeepers having submitted honey samples for analysis and the results generated clearly indicated forage patterns linked to both time of year and land use. Sample returns in 2020 exceeded our wildest expectations with over 1000 honey samples returned, and results from these are currently being generated.
She will be presenting the story so far.
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Bee Farming with native/near native bees
by Eoghan MacGiollacoda
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Climatic conditions mean that beekeeping can be difficult on the northwestern margins of Europe. Although the Gulf Stream ensures that winters are generally mild, summer conditions are often cool and damp. The European dark bee, Apis mellifera mellifera, has evolved to cope with these conditions.
Due to such adaptations as a conservative brood-rearing nature, the native honey bee is able to respond rapidly to unpredictable and intermittent honey flows and is very thrifty with regard to stored honey.
The native honey bee also forages and mates at quite low temperatures, and foragers appear to be long lived. It is generally very docile when pure and can be handled with minimal protection under non-ideal weather conditions. It is excellent at exploiting late honey flows, such as heather or ivy, and requires little or no winter feeding. Many of its characteristics can be readily improved via selection.
To optimise honey production, it is important for the beekeeper to consider such management factors as swarm prevention and control, bee health, hive records, colony evaluation and breeding.
Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda is a commercial beekeeper based on Ireland’s east coast. As a fourth-generation beekeeper, he learned his craft through helping his father with the famous Galtee black bees of Co. Tipperary.
After settling in Co. Louth, he embarked on his own beekeeping enterprise using local strains of native Irish honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera). He manages around 200 colonies, distributed across the county in environments ranging from rolling grassland pastures to areas of flat tillage to the small upland fields and commonage of the Cooley Mountains.
The main sources of honey are white clover, blackberry, sycamore, rosebay willow-herb, bell heather, oil-seed rape and field beans. The prevailing climate tends to be warm, wet winters and cool, often wet summers, although it is generally drier but cooler than other parts of Ireland. DNA analysis of dozens of bee samples over the years has revealed purity levels of <99.4%, and Eoghan breeds native queens, mostly for his own use.
He is also involved with Co. Louth BKA’s native honey bee breeding programme and the maintenance of Co. Louth as a voluntary conservation area for the black bee. Recently, he has begun incorporating data on varroa tolerance into the selection of queens for breeding.
Eoghan has twice won the 24-jar World Class competition at the London Honey Show with the famous Cooley bell heather honey.
Steve Rogenstein and Grace McCormack “Honey Bee Watch. A Citizen Science Study on Free-Living Colonies”
You may watch this webinar via
Do you know of bees living freely in the wild? Help us identify and protect them!
Honey Bee Watch is a global citizen-science study to better understand the traits of survivorship among untreated and free-living colonies. Starting with a UK-based pilot focused on Apis mellifera, it’ll eventually expand into new regions and include all 10+ Apis species. Its aim is to increase scientific knowledge about these species, potentially leading to more sustainable beekeeping practices as well as educational programs and conservation initiatives to engage and inspire the wider public to act locally to protect threatened or endangered populations.
During this webinar, core team members Grace McCormack and Steve Rogenstein will describe the project and explain how beekeepers and concerned citizens all over the UK can participate.