Members of Dromore Beekeepers’ Association travelled to Tullamore in Co Offaly on the last Saturday in June to learn about a breeding programme aimed at conserving the Native Irish and British Honey Bee.
The visitors were guests of the renowned honey bee breeder John Summerville. John runs a breeding programme at his apiary on the outskirts of Tullamore supplying native ‘black’ queens to beekeepers throughout Ireland.
The native ‘black’ honey bee is claimed to be better adapted to the cooler, damper climate of the British Isles than imported honey bees of the Italian strain. In particular, the native strain of honey bee is hardy and frugal, enabling them to survive our long damp winters and sometimes inclement summers. They also have a lower tendency to swarm and are disease resistant, characteristics that are sought after by local beekeepers.
During the visit John Sumerville and his team demonstrated the four main stages of the queen rearing process, namely: i) confining the breeder queen using the Cupkit technique to harvest eggs to be raised as queens; ii) transfer of larvae to starter colonies to initiate the development of queen cells; iii) subsequent transfer into finisher colonies to complete the queen cell development; and iv) introduction of the emerged unmated queens into mini colonies for mating.
The Dromore visitors enjoyed an informative day and presented their host with a copy of the book Pollen: The Hidden Sexuality of Flowers as a mark of appreciation.