Booking Roger Patterson to deliver his Bee Improvement for All day was a long time ambition for me. Finally, last Saturday, it all came together.
Roger runs these courses for BIBBA ( Bee Imrovement and Bee Breeders Association http://bibba.com) and is the inheritor of the famous Dave Cushman website http://www.dave-cushman.netsite http://www.dave-cushman.net, which is an unparalleled resource for beekeepers internationally. He maintains certain sections as Dave Cushman did, but adds knowledge and amends things as necessary.
The lovely illustrations are all by Mike Duchet, volunteer co-ordinator at GoVolunteer Newcastle University. He helped the students set up a BeeSoc, building on a beekeeping project we helped found few couple of years ago. These guys are really committed to learning about best practice with honeybees. We love our students, and they love us back by volunteering at events and meetings. The room energises when you have all these young smiling faces.
Amy McCadden, Dianne Odede volunteers on the left. Sue Foster, NCL Uni Bee Soc https://goo.gl/CCglWA and Jen Scott, who is a researcher Ncle Uni bee lab into how neonicotinoids impact on honeybees.
What on earth is a bee improvement day ?
“Bee Improvement for all” is a one day course that is designed to help beekeepers use these opportunities to improve their bees, as well as giving information to those who wish to raise more queens. Some speakers and books don’t serve the beekeeper with just a few colonies very well, as they often use methods that are beyond the needs of the ordinary beekeeper. This course is organised to help and encourage beekeepers of all abilities to improve their bees, using simple techniques without the need for specialist equipment.”
Roger’s focus is very much based on his many many years of practical beekeeping, research and teaching. It’s clear he knows what he is talking about, and he makes it clear that you must observe your own bees in your own locality. Choose the traits you want most and focus on the enjoyment you will get from nice gentle bees.
The best idea was to think of ourselves as having “A” and “B” colonies, with A being the ones we want to use to influence the rest. We were encourage to thing of this idea on a wider scale, so we can use good queens from hives of friends and gradually influence the bees in our whole neighbourhood. Down here in Clara Vale there are now 5 of us cooperating on getting good local bees !
You can can influence temperament in many ways, and if you are gentle you stand a better chance of better temperament.
Those with some experience of talks, courses and literature on beekeeping will be aware of many old myths and irrational ideas about bees. We had a look at debunking some of these.
Practical advice was given on low tech and home made implements for rearing queens from your best hives.