Cumann Beachairí Chonamara
Connemara Beekeeepers’ Association
Was founded in January 2010, by a fervent nucleus of beekeepers led by Gerard Coyne and Seán Finnerty.
The association was constituted on the 14th of March 2010.
This year's (2018) officers and committee details are as follows:-
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Download our latest Newsletter 2018
The association is affiliated to the Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations (FIBKA).
If you are interested in joining our association, or seeking further information please contact the Secretary or PRO, through the following link.
If you are interested in reading our constitution, it can be found here.
Links to some of our past lectures:
January 2016 Summary
This month’s speaker was Aoife Ni Giolla Coda, who gave a very interesting and detailed talk on the topic of Queen Rearing. She spoke of the factors required to produce a good strain of queen and the materials that would be required to do this.
Queens may be required by a Q breeder to replace existing ageing queens, those with bad characteristics and to head up any additional colonies. Queen breeding is a process of selection to improve quality and to propagate those with the more positive traits.
Good generic conditions are required - Good rearing can be let down by bad genes
Good production conditions are required – Good genes can be masked by bad rearing
Cell raising colony considerations
1. A strong, well fed colony
2. Start planning in April
3. Create queenless environment
4. Plenty nurse bees available in hive
5. Drone brood present
6. Right environment for production
7. Planning and timing
8. Suitable mating conditions
The materials required for the process were discussed next, followed by how to identify and recognise the traits of a good breeder queen. Record keeping (Hoopers) are an essential part of this process.
How to actually prepare the cell raising colony was discussed next and finally how to transfer larvae by either using a grafting or Jenter cupkit system.
April 2015 Summary
At our April Meeting David Lee gave us a very timely lecture on spring management. He explained the importance of planning for the year ahead and showed us how keeping careful colony records can be useful when selecting colonies for breeding in order to build-up a stock of bees with desirable characteristics. He discussed the importance of making careful preparations early in the year for the season ahead, such as preparing equipment and frames before they are needed.
David advised us not to open our hives in the spring until the temperature outside has risen above 16°C and there is plenty of activity at the hive entrance. He also explained the importance of providing adequate insulation to keep the young brood warm when the queen starts laying.
David discussed how to recognize and manage common problems that occur during the summer season. He explained how early recognition of a problem developing in a colony can enable the beekeeper to plan ahead and rectify it at the next visit. He described how decreased activity at the hive entrance is often an early indicator of disease in the colony; how increased drone-brood may be an early sign of a failing queen; and how decreased egg-laying together with increased drone brood is often an early sign of swarming. Finally, David discussed different disease control strategies, including chemical and bio-mechanical treatment measures, and emphasised the importance of replacing frames at least every 2-3 years, as young bees contract diseases from cleaning-out cells in old comb.
March 2015 Summary
This month’s speaker was Tom Prendergast. He gave a wide-ranging overview of swarm control and nuc production methods.
Why are these important?
Swarm control is essential for good management of the bees and to prevent nuisance to neighbours.
Nuc production can be helpful to the beekeeper in the following areas;
To replace losses
Enable nuc sales/gift to v good friend!
Autumn management regimes e.g. Make a hive queen right, pre-winter
Queen rearing programmes
Some swarming facts
It’s the bees’ natural propagation method
Few swarms can survive in the wild
It often results in diminished/no honey crop
Hives can end up queenless
Biggest cause of beginner despairs!
Next, the natural lifecycle of the bees was examined and some potential, swarming signs within the hive. Two swarm control methods were then explained in detail, along with their advantages and the problems with each of these; i.e. the cell destruction and the Artificial Swarm (with/without finding Q) techniques.
An interesting chart was provided by Tom to indicate bees’ lifecycle/swarming events.
Firstly, the method of creating a single nuc in June was explained; then we looked at the ‘Vince Cook’ method which created multiple nucs. The requirements for overwintering nucs were discussed; as well as the standards that a commercial nuc producer should observe.
This informative meeting concluded with some questions from the audience to the speaker.
February 2015 Summary
This month’s speaker was Jeanne Sampier. She gave the talk entitled, ‘Bumblebees as pollinators’. Jeanne has studied extensively on the subject and gave us an enlightening talk about the Bumblebee.Bumblebees are ‘generalists’ and forage on a wide range of flowers. An interesting fact learned was that bumblebees can “buzz” pollinate tomatoes and potatoes! This means that in order to release the pollen, thebumblebees (and some species of solitary bees) are able to grab onto the flower and move their flight muscles rapidly, causing the flower and anthers to vibrate and dislodge the pollen.
She explained that athough they are members of the Apidae family, they are dissimilar to honey bees in that they;
do not produce honey (for humans!)
do not swarm
are much larger, heavier
do not use comb
Next to be discussed was the ecological and economic value (approx. €29 million) of the Bumblebee.
There are two varieties of Bumblebees: the ‘True’ or “Bombus” types and also six species of the‘Cuckoo’ type. The latter is parasitic, in that, it has no pollen baskets and lets the ‘Bombus’ type raise its’ young. We were shown some slides of the more and less common within the Irish Species.
We next examined some diseases, habitat loss problems and predators that can affect the Bumblebees and also some previous conservation studies.
Some current and future conservation practices were then discussed, including initiatives such as the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020. The areas proposed to be covered by this Plan are;
A Q & A session concluded this very informative talk.
January 2015 Summary
Neil Spellacy provided our group with some useful information toward improving our bee's health by reminding us to be more aware of apiary and hive hygiene issues. -Neil's easy to understand, enjoyable style of lecturing made it more straightforward for us to consider some necessary maintenance/routine tasks.
Topics covered included;
How to assess a potential apiary site
Where to site each hive and how to maintain the apiary site.
Hive diseases and pests to be aware of
Cleaning of used hive equipment, including how and when to use an 80% acetic acid solution, washing soda and beach/soda combinations.
Maintaining good practice whilst working within and between different hives
How to store honey supers correctly
Neil concluded his talk by taking some questions from our group.
Dermot O'Flaherty from the Westport Beekeepers Group spoke next.
He provided a brief overview of FIBKA and his work as their Western Representative. He talked about educational possibilities within FIBKA that may be of interest to enrich beekeeping knowledge and the annual Gormanston week.
February 2016 Summary
Our chairman Sean, firstly gave us a short update on the progress of trying to place restrictions on the importation of bees; to try and prevent the introduction of the hive beetle to Ireland. The emphasis has now been placed on government and the EU to be obliged to protect our indigenous (relatively varroa tolerant) species AMM, with the goal of obtaining a designation for a conservation area for our Black Bee Species.
Foul Brood Disease has been detected in the North of the country and can easily be spread via unregulated nuc production. Therefore, it is important to be vigilant at association level and random sampling through testing for AFD is best practice (Samples to testing sent to Mary Coffey). Hiding the presence of /ignoring AFB is bad practice and has consequences for our members. This disease needs to be handled quickly and efficiently in order to prevent any further spread.
David Geoghegan continued this theme and stressed the importance of using our own wax supplies (and bees); through recycling and reuse of our own local resources. He brought along some excellent examples of useful items involved in the wax extraction process. David has made his own solar wax extractor. It comprised of a bee proof cabinet on wheels with a glass roof and a mesh basket inside. It was lined with kingspan insulation and painted black. It was internally lined with flat profile with a tilt and spout for the liquid wax to flow through. It works cheaply and efficiently in good weather conditions.
David next demonstrated his homemade steamer box. Constructed from an old “tea box” with a double-sealed lid and internal ledges and a small fall to one side for wax flow. It is then connected to a steam source, as required. Since the bees build their wax at a slight angle, the old frames are placed in upside down at a similar angle! The box can sterilize 30 frames at a time. Odd bits of frame wax/debris can be placed in a potato bag (material type :)) which is suspended and steamed in the box.
Recycled, locally produced wax is very desirable and could substitute some unnecessary imports of non-native wax which may be contaminated with chemicals and be of unknown origin. It is important to rotate the wax within the hive to achieve better hygiene and reduce the prevalence of diseases such as nosema and acarine.
Finally, David gave a fascinating demonstration of how to create wax foundation sheets from recycled wax. He used a device for keeping the wax melted along with a wax foundation sheet mould device, which had a water cooling system attached. A ladle of melted wax is applied to the silicon mould which has been pre-cleaned with a soft brush. The top mould is then applied to squish the shape out. A knife is used which trims away the excess wax which is then placed in the water tray at the front for reuse. The final product is then removed and the group were very impressed with the quality of the results!
On behalf of our members, I would like to thank David for his time and efforts in setting up this excellent demonstration. This equipment has great potential and could prove to be extremely valuable to the health of the Connemara bee population