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National Honey Show

Lecture Programme for Beginners

Lecture Convention 2021

Quick links: Main Programme, Beginners Programme, Bee Craft Programme.

Note this page will be updated during August 2022.

All last years main lectures can be viewed on YouTube from Lecture Videos.

There is no booking for lectures, seats are available on a first come first served bases.

Please be aware that National Honey Show Members and those with a daily admission ticket can attend lectures and book into Workshops.

The lecture programme may change for a variety of reasons. Substitutions may have a different topic from that intended and with a different speaker.

Main Lecture Programme

Programme updated 21/10/21

Gold Cup Suite

View Live Streaming of main lectures.

V = Virtual hybrid presentations (shown live)

Thursday 21 October

9.00. Opening Ceremony

9.30. Torben Schiffer: V “Man made breeding and selection vs natural reproduction and selection - why modern beekeeping will eventually send the species of honey bees into its demise”

11.00. Mike Edwards: V “Beyond honey bees - an introduction to the rest of the 600 plus species of aculeates present in the British Isles and Ireland”

12.30. Jo Widdicombe: “The National Bee Improvement Programme”

14.30. Torben Schiffer: V “How modern beekeeping enhances nectar competition and contributes to species extinction of wild pollinators”

16.00. Vince Gallo: “How to build honey comb - a bricklayer’s perspective”

Friday 22 October

9.30. Torben Schiffer: V “Natural conditions of bees living in tree cavities in comparison to modern hives - how the housing affects the biology, development and Varroa infestation rate. (Why modern beekeeping is caught in the circle of constantly fighting the symptoms of the established husbandry system)”

11.00. Kirsten Traynor: V “Pesticides in pollen: what are the bees in America consuming?”

14.00. Norman Carreck: "Global pandemics, bee imports and native bees"

16.00. Kirsten Traynor: V “Media Mayhem: How the news media is pitting honey bees against native bees”

Saturday 23 October

9.30. Kirsten Traynor: V Queen Rearing: A comparison of queen rearing techniques”

11.00. Paul Hurd: “Honey bees are what they eat: how do differing diets result in queens or workers?”

12.15. National Honey Show Awards and Prize Giving

13.30. Kirsten Traynor: V “Reading a Hive”

15.00. Lynfa Davies: “Honeybee behaviour - a look at the mechanisms bees use to manage their lives”

The lecture programmes may change for a variety of reasons. Substitutions may have a different topic from that intended and with a different speaker.

Beginners Programme

Saturday 23 October

Solario Suite

The Beginners Programme is intended for those who are in their early years of beekeeping, perhaps up to 2/3 years experience, although all beekeepers are welcome. The topics have been carefully chosen as being relevant to those new to the craft, covering what beginners are often confronted with in their early years and giving information to aid the understanding of how a honey bee colony works. The presenters are experienced beekeepers who are used to teaching, so they will pitch their presentations at the relevant level, with little or no overlap between lectures.

It is strongly recommended that beginners attend all presentations and that local beekeeping associations or groups encourage their members to attend. It may be that attendees are visiting the National Honey Show for the first time, so the programme has been arranged to allow time for beginners to see the exhibits and visit the trade stands.

9.15. Lynfa Davies: “Nutrition in honey bees”

11.15. Karl Colyer: “Things I wish I’d learnt earlier”

13.00. Roger Patterson: “Swarming and what swarm prevention and control methods are trying to achieve”

14.30. Daisy Day: “Wintering Well”

Bee Craft Lecture Programme

Bee Craft Lecture Programme

Friday 22nd October

Solario Suite

9:30. - 10:45. Alexandra Valentine: "The treatment-free survey"

11:00. - 12:15. Dr. Beth Harris: "The electric ecology of bees"

12.30. - 13.45. Dr. Irill Ishak: "Insects inspired nanotechnology: How to deter bacteria swiftl"

14.00. - 15.15. Elena Cini: "Boosting bee diversity can help stabilise crop production - new research"

Presenters and Presentation Profiles

Presenter: Irill Ishak
From chemistry to engineering, researchers have been taking inspiration from nature since the early ages. Nature has developed materials, objects, and processes that function in the macroscale to the nanoscale. Insects in particular, have developed many interesting nanomaterials which have exciting technological applications. Many insects like cicada, moth, planthopper, and dragon fly have nanostructures on their wings which scientist believe helps to increase their flying efficiency and to keep their wings clean from dust and bacteria. In our lab, we have been working to mimic the approach from nature to combat bacterial infection on medical implant by limiting bacterial interaction with the implant surfaces using nanostructures.

Presenter: Beth Harris
I am a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol. My research is focussed on the mechanisms by which bees detect electric fields in their environment and how this may be important in ecological contexts such as pollination and intraspecific communication.

Presenter: Alexandra Valentine
As part of my undergraduate research project for my Bachelor of Science in Zoology, I investigated the distribution and composition of both treatment-free and treating beekeepers across the UK. Whilst working closely with my supervisor, Prof Stephen Martin, we developed a nationally distributed survey to assess this. We had hopeful aims of estimating the number of treatment-free beekeepers across the UK as this has not been quantified at a national level. I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been given throughout this project and am delighted to finally be able to share my results with the community!

Presenter: Elena Cini
Pollinators are facing a decline worldwide caused by multiple drivers, and understanding their effects and how they may interact with each other is a crucial step towards halting and reversing such declines. My PhD project aims to answer questions related to bee health and the impact of stressors including how agrochemicals, pests, and pathogens might interact with landscape characteristics impacting the health of bees. This is part of the ‘PoshBee’ EU Horizon 2020 project. My involvement focuses on two main parts: a large-scale fieldwork and a social science study. In my talk, I will illustrate the main aims of the PoshBee project and the preliminary results of the analyses I am directly involved in.

Presenter: Kirsten Traynor

Kirsten Traynor

Dr. Kirsten S. Traynor investigates honey bee health and how pesticides impact social behavior. She is the Director of the Institute of Bee Science in Celle, Germany. In 2020, she launched a new quarterly magazine 2 Million Blossoms: protect our pollinators. Originally an English major, Kirsten won her first hive in a raffle right after college graduation. These fascinating insects led to a globe-trotting adventure, a PhD in biology, and a new appreciation for the interconnectedness of our planet. But she never lost her desire to write and now combines her skills in science communication. She is the author of Two Million Blossoms: Discovering the Medicinal Benefits of Honey and Simple, Smart Beekeeping.

Presentation: “Pesticides in pollen: what are the bees in America consuming?”
We sampled stored pollen in over 1,000 apiaries over a seven-year time period, analyzing the pesticide residues to determine the exposure risk. How do we best judge risk to a honey bee hive? While the samples were just a snapshot in time, we discovered some interesting correlations between pesticide exposure and colony health.

Presentation: “Media Mayhem: How the news media is pitting honey bees against native bees”
In the last few years, it has become popular to criticize honey bees as competitors that transmit diseases to native bees. Some beekeepers have been banned from nature preserves where they have kept bees for years. Let's unravel some of the research and examine the real issues at hand.

Presentation: “Queen Rearing: A comparison of queen rearing techniques”
When I started out in beekeeping, I was told that you don't rear queens, you buy them. But there is nothing more satisfying than rearing your own. Whether you want to rear just a handful for your own use or a few hundred for sale, the same basics are required: Good genetic material, strong colonies, and a way of rearing cells to completion. The pluses and drawbacks of different queens rearing methods will be discussed.

Presentation: “Reading a Hive”
The hardest thing to learn as a beekeeper is how to read a hive. This comes through experience, repetition, and careful observation. Gain some insight into the natural structure of a hive and how you can manage the bees to achieve the goals you set.

Presenter: Torben Schiffer

Torben Schiffer

I learnt conventional beekeeping from my grandfather in 2006. My first awakening happened when I treated my hives against varroa and then found hundreds of antennae on the mesh bottoms. This was the bees’ response to the recommended treatment: self-mutilation. It is this experience which spurred my search for better ways of keeping bees. I was fortunate to be asked by Prof. J. Tautz to do research the differences of climatic conditions in tree cavities and modern beehives and its effects on bee health. We have been able to establish impressive data that lead us to conclude that the majority of bee hives in common use fail to offer the bees an environment that is appropriate to the needs of the species, with concomitant effects on the bees’ health. We can already conclude that most of the bees’ problems in our time are man-made.

Presentation: “How modern beekeeping enhances nectar competition and contributes to species extinction of wild pollinators”
New studies show a connection between beekeeping and the decline of wild pollinators based on nectar competition. The competition is further enhanced by the inefficiency of modern beehives, usually thin walled boxes which are showing a vast amount of energy loss. Additionally unnaturally huge volumes enhance the issue as well as inappropriate locations. Especially in the cities where many beehives are placed directly on the roofs, into adverse weather conditions. Moreover the amounts of beehives and their nectar overturn often exceeds the natural resources. Therefore feeding the bee colonies becomes mandatory in order to prevent starvation. However these methods are increasing the whole problematic even further.

Presentation: “Man made breeding and selection vs natural reproduction and selection - why modern beekeeping will eventually send the species of honey bees into its demise”
For thousands of years humans have harvested bee products like honey, wax and propolis. Historically, man-made harvesting, breeding and selection did not cause a threat to the species of honeybees because only a small fraction of the genetic pool was lying in human hands, most if it was subject to natural selection and adaption. Nowadays tables have turned, and the main part of the 45 million years old, system relevant key species, (which is literally carrying our ecosystem on its wings) is subordinate to the mercy of beekeepers that are either seeking to use honeybees for their own benefit or are somehow caught in the trap of modern beekeeping with all its side effects. Natural selection is the only force that is able to generate bees that are showing all the facets that define independent and locally adapted survivability has been practically abolished for man-made breeding and selection.

Presentation: “Natural conditions of bees living in tree cavities in comparison to modern hives - how the housing affects the biology, development and Varroa infestation rate. (Why modern beekeeping is caught in the circle of constantly fighting the symptoms of the established husbandry system)”
For millions of years bees have developed in tree cavities which are providing very different conditions in comparison to modern hives. The development, behavior and biology of bees is highly dependent on the geometry they are living in. If we want to learn anything about the natural behavior and abilities of a species we need to observe it in nature, not in artificial systems. By doing that we can already conclude that diseases like AFB, EFB and the massive amounts of Varroamites are the direct result of modern beekeeping and its manipulations on the bee’s biology and nature. For the very first time we are now setting up a species protection program for honeybees that is fighting the cause and not the symptoms of an unhinged established but rather new husbandry system.

Presenter: Jo Widdicombe

Jo Widdicombe

Jo is a past President of BIBBA. He worked as a bee inspector for 5 years and now runs about 150 colonies, with two assistants, producing honey, queens and nucs for sale. Author of the book, "The Principles of Bee Improvement" which explains how to select and improve the quality of our bees from local stock, with an emphasis on our native strain, rather than resorting to imported queens. He is a strong supporter of the National Bee Improvement Programme (NatBIP) which he sees as appropriate for beekeepers at every level, as a way of promoting a truly sustainable system of bee improvement.

Presentation: “NatBIP: Achieving a sustainable system of bee improvement”
Jo will explain how, just as agriculture is seeking a more sustainable approach towards food production, beekeepers should also be looking towards developing a system of bee improvement that is less reliant on imports and more in tune with local adaptation. This will provide reduced biosecurity risks and the opportunity to maintain and improve the quality of the bees in our area. The practice of bee improvement is appropriate for all beekeepers from beginners, with one or two colonies, to large-scale commercial beekeepers. By all working to the same system, and starting with bees local to our area, we can all contribute to producing a better bee.

Presenter: Paul Hurd

Paul Hurd

Paul Hurd obtained his PhD from the University of Sheffield and performed post-doctoral research at Kings College London and at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. He is currently a Principal Investigator, Group Leader and Senior Lecturer in Epigenetics at Queen Mary University of London. His research group work on the honey bee as an emerging model for epigenetics and are particularly interested in how diet can result in three different outcomes (queens, workers and drones) from the same honey bee genome. His lab was the first to show that honey bee castes differ epigenetically, rather than genetically. They manage and maintain their own research hives and work in his lab is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Royal Society and the European Union.

Presentation: "Honey bees are what they eat: how do differing diets result in queens or workers?"
Honey bee larvae destined to become workers are fed worker jelly followed by a diet of nectar/pollen and those destined to become queens are fed royal jelly. These differing diets are then maintained over the entire lifetime of the adult. The ability of an individual honey bee larva to become a queen or worker cannot be because of different DNA: the genome of that larva has the capacity to become either, it is due to the way genes are switched on or off in response to the specific diet; this determines such differing developmental outcomes. Epigenetics is a dynamic set of instructions that exist ‘on top’ of the genetic information, that can encode and direct multiple different outcomes from a fixed DNA sequence. Epigenetic information can be altered by environmental factors, including diet. In the case of the honey bee, the queen larvae are fed a diet of royal jelly, a potent substance capable of changing developmental instructions. I will discuss the very latest advances in scientific technology that have allowed us to investigate how royal jelly results in a queen and why workers are different.

Presenter: Lynfa Davies

Lynfa Davies

Lynfa lives in Aberystwyth and has kept bees with her husband, Rob, for 16 years. During this time she has worked her way through the BBKA assessments to become a Master Beekeeper and in 2019 was awarded the National Diploma in Beekeeping. She is an active member of Aberystwyth and District BKA where she gets involved with training new beekeepers. Lynfa is also a member of the Welsh Beekeeper’s Association Learning and Development Committee. She regularly gives talks and leads training sessions on practical aspects of beekeeping. Lynfa currently has approximately 25 colonies which she manages for honey production and for the joy of looking after bees! In addition she raises her own queens and uses these to produce nucleus colonies and to replace her own stock.

Presentation: "Nutrition in honey bees"
Just like us, honey bees need a healthy, nutritious diet. But what does that mean? In this talk we will look at what the bees need and when and whether they can meet these requirements themselves. Their requirements change throughout the year and depending on the sex and caste of the bee so how can we ensure the bees have what they need?

Presenter: Karl Colyer

Karl Colyer

Karl has been keeping bees since 2003. He enjoys building his own hives from recycled wood where he can and is a very practical and hands-on bee breeder, bringing his engineering, quality and production experience to the fore. Karl has set up a not-for-profit social enterprise ( which places hand-made hives and home-bred bees onto company properties, farmland as well as into individual’s back gardens. This creates a growing curiosity for bees and catalyses people to want to support them and (hopefully) keep their own. He mentors a number of new beekeepers and has a growing number of hives in Cheshire and beyond.

Presentation: “Things I wish I’d learnt earlier”
In those early years of beekeeping, I made lots of mistakes and took everything that another beekeeper told me as the gospel truth. It wasn’t until I figured that the advice from different people started conflicting with each other and that the ‘foolproof’ solutions didn’t always work that I had to go back to basics and make my own decisions. This talk touches on some of the basics as well as ways to save money, get free bees and how to end up with a beekeeping plan that works for you.

Presenter: Roger Patterson

Roger Patterson

Roger started keeping bees in his native West Sussex in 1963. He is a practical beekeeper who has learnt a lot by observing bees and beekeepers, which has helped him to develop his simple management system.Roger has been a demonstrator at the Wisborough Green BKA teaching apiary since the early 1970s and is currently the Apiary Manager, where there are normally over 30 colonies for tuition. For about 15 years he had 130 colonies of his own, but is now down to around 25. In addition to writing, Roger speaks and demonstrates widely on the practical aspects of beekeeping. He features in several of the BIBBA webinars that have been produced during COVID restrictions.

Presentation: “Swarming and what swarm prevention and control methods are trying to achieve”
Many beekeepers panic when they see queen cells, probably because they don’t understand what is happening in a colony when it is preparing to swarm, or when it has. Some blindly follow “the book” on what to do, without understanding what the selected method is trying to achieve. This presentation will discuss a little about the history of some swarm control theories and the process in a colony, but relevant to some of the more common methods of swarm control.

Presenter: Daisy Day

Daisy Day

Daisy started beekeeping in 2006 and completed her BBKA exams in 2012 when she became a Master Beekeeper. She and her partner Martin currently run 100 colonies throughout West Sussex and have recently joined the Bee Farmers’ Association. For several years Daisy had a colony of bees located in the local primary school and gave over 60 children the opportunity to handle bees. Daisy is the Show Secretary for the Wisborough Green Beekeepers Association and also for the South of England Show. She has a degree in Field Biology, is a keen gardener and has recently been forced to move house because of all the beekeeping kit she has, a house which will take several years to renovate!

Presentation: “Wintering Well”
The season starts here! With no forage about over the winter and temperatures too low for bees to fly, we look at how to prepare your bees for the months ahead. We will look at what the bees need for them to come through into the spring, healthy, strong and ready to build up into a productive colony. This talk is aimed at those that have had bees for 3 years or less.

Presentation: “Honeybee behaviour - a look at the mechanisms bees use to manage their lives”
Honey bees do not operate as individuals but instead operate as a colony, often referred to as a super organism. Their activities and behaviour are highly organised and enable them to ensure the whole colony grows, reproduces and thrives. This talk will look at some of the mechanisms employed by the bees at various stages of the production cycle. We will look at how they are continually looking ahead (metaphorically speaking, of course!) and if we do the same, we will be far more successful in our beekeeping. Understanding what the bees are trying to do will make our management of them much easier as we can work with them instead of against them.

Presenter: Vince Gallo

Vince Gallo

Vince tends his 15-20 hives in Surrey within his garden and two out-apiaries; one of which is at a local school. The bees are kept both as a hobby, but also for research; the later being a result of this retired software engineer deciding to avoid boredom by undertaking a PhD. The research topic concerns the use and construction of honeycomb and now, in the fourth year, the bees and comb are beginning to surrender some answers. Vince is treasurer and an active member of Reigate Beekeepers which provides ample opportunity to help other beekeepers, to assist the public as a swarm collector, as well as promoting the interests of bees by supporting the association at summer shows and giving talks at local groups and schools.

Presentation: “How to build honeycomb - a bricklayer’s perspective”
For hundreds of years beekeepers and researchers have wondered how bees are able to build comb, a question that can now be answered. The wax-made comb of the honeybee is a masterpiece of animal architecture. The highly regular, double-sided hexagonal structure is a near-optimal solution to storing food and housing larvae. The economy of the structures has been described and analysed across the centuries leading to speculation, but without conclusion, as to how such complex cells can be built and packed together so efficiently. In this session I will explain my analysis of the bees’ methods, and hence how they achieve the structure. Honeycomb, while beautiful, is not perfect, and much is revealed by these imperfections. Irregularities are introduced through construction errors, compelled by surface irregularities, or may result from purposeful distortion such as when changing from worker to drone cells. Nonetheless the builders overcome these distortions and, within a short distance, restore the regular hexagonal pattern. Honeybees are capable of building comb downwards, but also upwards and sideways; their method is clearly very flexible. In this session I will show how individual decisions regarding the placement of each speck of wax combine to produce well-formed comb even when presented with such complications.

Presenter: Mike Edwards

Mike Edwards

I am not a beekeeper, but a well-established researcher into wild bees and wasps, particularly those found in Great Britain and have been studying these insects for nearly 50 years. I am the co-author of the recently published Handbook of the Bees of the British Isles and am currently working on a similar work dealing with the wasps. An earlier volume, Field Guide to the Bumblebees of Great Britain and Ireland, written with Martin Jenner, has been consulted by many beekeepers as well as general naturalists. That said, I do think it important to have some understanding of honey bees, especially their behaviour and biology. Indeed, my main interest is in the behaviour and biology of this whole group of insects.

Presentation: “Beyond honey bees - an introduction to the rest of the 600 plus species of aculeates present in the British Isles and Ireland”
The aculeate Hymenoptera include honeybees - but a great many other species as well, even in the British Isles, where there are over 600 species. The talk will give an outline to the major groupings, something of their evolutionary relationship, life-histories and behaviour, with an emphasis on relevance to the beekeeper called out to “a swarm of bees”, to help them identify the “bees” and inform the public. Inevitably, this will deal mostly with the larger species - but there are small wasps less than 5mm long which catch plant-hoppers in the same way as preying mantids!

Presenter: Norman Carreck
Norman Carreck has been keeping bees since the age of 15. He read Agricultural Science at Nottingham University and joined Rothamsted Research in 1987 as an agronomist working on nutrient uptake in cereal crops. Between 1991 and 2006 he was apiculturalist in the Plant and Invertebrate Ecology Division there, with responsibility for maintaining about 80 colonies of honey bees and was also fully involved in research on pollination ecology, bee behaviour, bee pathology and forage for bees. Since 2008 he has carried out research at the University of Sussex on bee breeding and pesticides and bees. Between 2007 and 2018 he was Senior Editor of the Journal of Apicultural Research, and between 2009 and 2018 he was employed as Science Director of the International Bee Research Association. He obtained the National Diploma in Beekeeping in 1996, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society in 2004, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2011. He is a Trustee of the C B Dennis British Beekeepers Research Trust, Examinations Moderator for the Examinations Board for the UK National Diploma in Beekeeping, a member of the “Bee Health Advisory Forum” for the Defra “Healthy Bees Plan” and is the UK member of the Executive Committee of the international honey bee research network "COLOSS". He is a director of Carreck Consultancy Ltd and Bee Publishing Ltd and is an Associate Fellow of the University of Sussex.

Presentation: "Global pandemics, bee imports and native bees"
The global Covid-19 pandemic has raised awareness of the problems caused by moving biological material around the world, and of the dangers posed by viruses. In the case of bees, several recent papers have drawn attention to the international movement of bee viruses associated with trade in honey bees. There is good evidence that certain exotic viruses - variants of viruses already found in the UK, have arrived here in recent decades. The large scale COLOSS genotype-environment interactions experiment demonstrated that “local” strains of bee consistently survive better than strains from elsewhere, yet growing numbers of queens and package bees have been imported into the UK in recent years. At the same time there is growing evidence that Britain and Ireland hold important populations of native or “near native” bees. In early 2021, Brexit brought further twists in the tale of imported bees, but it is clear that a long term aim must be the establishment of greater capacity for the sustainable rearing of local bees.

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