PAM Hunter, who is well known in British BKA circles and more further afield flew into Belfast International Airport on Tuesday 20th November to deliver a lecture on “Are our problems really new?” to Dromore BKA.
Apart from those members who attend Gormanston Summer School or visit Conferences in England she was unknown but her subject ensured a “full house”.
The summer of 2011 was not good for beekeeping and the summer of 2012 was worse, some claiming that it was the worst beekeeping summer for 50 years. The problems were poor yields of honey which, though frustrating, can be recovered in subsequent years and poor mating of queens, which can cause problems for a long time. Pam, in her talk, reported how various problems were not new and how they had been reported in the literature. Her first subject “Poor mating of queens” proved extremely popular since Dromore members had suffered from this in recent years especially in the summer of 2012.
She quoted from Professor Francis Ratnieks in 2004 and from Huber, the famous blind beekeeper, in 1798. Ratnieks reported no successful mating in August 2004, the wettest on record in that area. Wedmore in 1945 stated: “A quiet day with a shade temperature of 16 C is desirable for successful mating”. Jim Donohoe, of the Irish Midlands Bee group, reported that in 2005 “no grafts accepted during May, which was cold, wet and windy; success followed in the more favourable weather in June. Petras reported in the Scottish Beekeeper in 2005 “The fate of 25 virgins is hanging on the next fine day.”
Pam continued to illustrate other beekeeping problems in a similar way. She used 100 PPT slides in her presentation which never dragged. She concluded by quoting from that well known authority on bees, Pooh Bear who said “You can never tell with Bees” and “These are the wrong sort of Bees”.