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.
The lecture programme may change for a variety of reasons. Substitutions may have a different topic from that intended and with a different speaker.
Gold Cup Suite,
Thursday 26th October
Recent changes made to Thursday and Friday's main lectures 21/10/23
Friday 27th October
Gold Cup Suite
Saturday 28th October
Gold Cup Suite
Friday 27th October
Saturday 28th October
14.45: Daisy Day Plants and Bees
Thursday 26th October
15:00: John Free When Bee meets Bee
16:45: Shell Co. Pests or Plenty
Sponsored by our Patrons Mr John Chapple and Mr Bernard Diaper
For the centenary year of the National Honey Show, we are delighted to be showing some historical films that have been lent to us by the BBKA, FIBKA and Hampshire BKA. Two of our patrons, John Chapple and Bernard Diaper are sponsoring the showing of the films. Many of you will remember that John was president of the National Honey Show and of course is well known as the keeper of bees at Buckingham Palace. Bernard is equally well known throughout the world as a respected honey judge (now sadly retired from judging). He was instrumental in setting up the workshops for the Show. Bernard and John have given many hours of their time to the Show and have helped to make it into the event that it has become today. With over 100 years of beekeeping between them, John and Bernard started their beekeeping when many of these films were being made.
Chairperson: Mrs Pam Hunter, Master Beekeeper
The session will be chaired by Mrs Pam Hunter, who is a Master Beekeeper and has been keeping bees since 1989. Pam’s background is in biological sciences. She was employed in microbiological research in the pharmaceutical industry for 30 years before becoming a freelance consultant and writer. Pam is particularly interested in scientific aspects of bees and their interaction with the environment and plants. Also, the neglected area of historical aspects of bees, the environment and beekeeping.
Come and see the work of some of the great names from beekeeping plus some interesting aspects of beekeeping from the past. We have a selection of historic films, some dating back to the 1950s. You might think that beekeeping has changed during the intervening decades, but what is interesting is that in many respects you will see how little has changed.
Historic Beekeeping Films Programme
Queen substance Part 1 and Part 2
Two films of Colin Butler describing the work he did at Rothamsted to discover queen substance, (subsequently recognised as pheromones). These films show a series of experiments he carried out and are a great example of science at its best.
Historic Beekeeping Films Programme
A real gem is a film of Dade showing how to dissect bees to detect Acarine. Anyone doing beekeeping exams will be familiar with the book by Dade on the ‘Anatomy and Dissection of the Honeybee’ but to see and hear the man himself describing Acarine is wonderful.
When Bee meets Bee
An interesting film shows work by another great name, J.B. Free, entitled ‘When Bee meets Bee’. This includes excellent details of how the hive is protected by guard bees and how they ward off would be intruders.
The Royal Show 1965
A short film describes the Royal Show when it was at Stoneleigh in 1965. It includes shots of the BBKA apiary as it was then.
With Manley to the Heather
This film shows bee farmers preparing and transporting colonies to the New Forest – great to try and recognise the roads!
I talk to the bees 1974
An unusual and interesting film, made by the BBC as part of its ‘Look Stranger’ series in 1974, follows the life of a well-known beekeeper who was chief steward of the Honey Show for many years, Peter Springall from Bromley and Beckenham.
Pests or Plenty
A film made by Shell that will be worth discussing to see whether we have advanced or not, uses talks between farmers (who claim to need pesticides to be able provide food) and beekeepers (who are concerned about the environment). The precise date is not known but probably the late 1960s.
Jack Silberrad. Jack is the Authorised Bee Inspector, Eastern Region, National Bee Unit
99p or EFB! – Surviving & Thriving With The National Bee Unit
With experience managing hundreds of colonies in environments as diverse as heather moors, London rooftops, and Mānuka hills in New Zealand, Jack now runs his own colonies in Cambridgeshire, where he is the resident bee inspector. A microbiologist academically and passionate for community outreach, he works tirelessly for healthy bees where in 2022 he diagnosed ~10% of all European Foulbrood in England & Wales. From dispelling rumours and myths surrounding the NBU’s operations, recounting adventures with the ‘Typhoid Mary’ of Cambridgeshire, and sharing new findings and best practice, Jack hopes to deliver an entertaining and refreshing insight as to just why on Earth any beekeeper would want to spend their days elbow deep in EFB.id
The Truth About Honey
Lynne is a Master Beekeeper, National Diploma in Beekeeping holder and Chair of the Honey Authenticity Network. She has kept bees for over 30 years and runs 15-20 colonies in Somerset. She is a Master Beekeeper, holds the National Diploma in Beekeeping, and is an examiner for the BBKA written and practical exams. Lynne is involved in educating beekeepers in Somerset, running study groups and curating the popular Somerset Lecture series. She is a knowledgeable and engaging speaker. Honey is the 2nd most adulterated food in the world. This talk lifts the lid on the how, why and wherefore of honey fraud and adulteration, and the shocking impact it is having on the livelihoods of beekeepers around the world. We look at why this fraud continues, and what can be done about it. We also take a look at what is happening in the UK.
Stephen Fleming and Richard Rickitt, Stephen and Richard are Co-Editors of BeeCraft Magazine
Editorial or gladiatorial? Behind the scenes at BeeCraft
Stephen Fleming has been co-editor of BeeCraft since 2020 and a beekeeper since 1994. Drawn into beekeeping by a lifelong interest in landscape and land use, he has found that an interest in honey bees opened up surprising and enthralling perspectives on the natural world and our interaction with it. Growing up on a Somerset smallholding in the 1980s, Richard Rickitt learned to keep bees as a member of his school beekeeping club. Moving from London to Wiltshire in 2005, he took up beekeeping again, finding that it complemented other interests including gardening, photography and British history – subjects he likes to explore through his writing and research for BeeCraft. Joining the magazine as a deputy editor in 2017, he has been co-editor since 2020. Each month BeeCraft magazine drops quietly through letterboxes – after a monthly behind-the-scenes mad dash by the editorial team to provide an up-to-date and varied picture of the beekeeping scene in the UK and across the world. So, how does all this happen? What influences the magazine’s editorial position and what impact do readers’ views make? Come along and hear how it happens and how you can influence the magazine’s direction.
Dr Beth Nicholls. UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, University of Sussex
Bee-haviour to Save the Bees
Global declines in pollinator populations have been attributed to various, often interacting, environmental stressors. These include poor nutrition, pesticides and disease. In this talk I will explain how understanding bee behaviour may be key not only to halting pollinator declines, but also to securing our own food supply. I will present experiments investigating the impact of environmental stressors on bee behaviour, including the use of harmonic radar to track bee flight and navigation abilities and measuring the impact of pesticide exposure on bee learning and memory.
Asian Hornets - How The French Cope
Richard is a Bee-Farmer in Brittany with a compelling YouTube channel. Originally from Jersey, bee farmer Richard Noel has lived in France for more than 20 years. Based in Brittany, he runs 200+ production hives, produces approximately 120 nucleus colonies annually and raises his own queens using the Mini-Plus mating nuc system. Richard’s YouTube Channel is a great resource for both new and seasoned beekeepers, giving expert advice on queen rearing, seasonal tips and - most dramatically - his vivid experiences of combatting the onslaughts of Asian Hornets on his hives. A firm believer that practical help is what most beekeepers really need, Richard always relishes the opportunity to pass on what he has learned.
Michael Palmer spent most of his childhood time outdoors, fascinated by the plants and insects and animals living in his suburban New York City environment. He escaped the city by going off to the University of Vermont, where he fell in love with the countryside, his future wife, and eventually the little bugs that we all hold so dear. The first colonies of honey bees arrived in 1974 as packaged bees, and over the following twenty odd years, he built French Hill Apiaries into a farm of nearly a thousand colonies. About 1990, Acarine mites and then Varroa mites arrived in his bees. The result was not pretty. Beekeeping became way more difficult, and way more expensive. With ever increasing losses, the wisdom of buying in replacement bees came into question. Splitting strong colonies reduced the honey crop and pollinating the local apple orchards caused the whole operation to fall apart with failing colonies, broken equipment, and one thoroughly exhausted and one frustrated beekeeper. In 1998, Mike tried raising a few queens, wintering them in nucleus colonies. The results changed his beekeeping forever. Not only did the bees winter more successfully and store larger surplus honey crops, the fun level rose to new heights, far above the clouds. Believing that quality should always trump quantity, a decision was made to cut back on the total number of production colonies in the apiary and focus on raising the best queens possible. With a thousand nucleus colonies of various configurations to help support the three hundred honey producing colonies, French Hill Apiaries produces, on average, some twelve hundred queens and fifteen tons of honey annually. Michael lives in St. Albans, Vermont with his wife Lesley, along with Wilson and Gemma, their Maremma Sheepdogs. When not helping his crew manage the honey production colonies, or spending countless hours in the queen rearing apiaries, Mike travels the world teaching sustainable beekeeping to anyone who will listen.
Talks by Michael Palmer
In 1998, when I first attempted to begin wintering nucleus colonies, my main concern…from where do I get the bees and brood? I had an apiary of thirteen colonies that needed to be moved. In July I broke down those colonies into forty nucleus colonies. All forty nuclei came through our Vermont winter. Was I convinced? Absolutely. Then came the second year. I could harvest brood and bees from my stronger production colonies, but that path forward meant removing full supers, harvesting a few frames of brood, and replacing those heavy supers on the hives. Ugh, more lifting than I wanted to do. In 2011 came one of those eureka moments. I kept some of my best overwintered nucleus colonies and used them as my brood source. All the brood and bee resources for growing queen cells and making my nucleus colonies came from these nucleus colonies whose sole purpose is to grow combs of brood. Hence, the term "Brood Factory". Today, more than ten years later, I have in excess of a hundred of these Brood Factories. They have become the foundation of my sustainable apiary just as the wintered nuclei have become the building blocks.
Seasonal Management of Double Nuclei
In recent years I’ve spoken many times about my nucleus colonies. Much of what I’ve said in the past has been about theory… using them to set up and maintain a stable, sustainable apiary. Now, it’s time to talk about the seasonal management of these gems in the apiary. I’ll take the listeners from nucleus creation to summer management and swarm control. Also included will be queen evaluation in nucleus colonies, varroa control, and winter preparations.
How I make and use my beekeeping equipment
My apiary has many sides, and the woodenware to go along with each. Honey production hives, mating nuclei, double nucleus hives and the necessary ancillary equipment are all produced in my wood shop. I found many years ago that I could build the woodenware I need at a much reduced cost when compared with the prices from the equipment manufacturers. I will take the listener from Eastern White Pine timber (Pinus strobus) through the construction process, to apiary use. Each hive appliance will be highlighted with photos of construction and use in the apiary.
Nigel Semmence started beekeeping whilst he was a teenager in Norfolk learning from his uncle and grandfather who were both bee farmers. After university he worked in scientific sales before joining the Oxford Bee Company where he enjoyed three years on pollination projects with solitary bees and commuted between the UK and California. In 2009 Nigel joined the National Bee Unit (NBU) as Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) for Southern region runing a team of seven Seasonal Bee Inspectors (SBIs). In 2015 Nigel became the Contingency Planning and Science Officer (CP&SO) for the NBU with responsibility for developing contingency plans for exotic pests and diseases of honeybees such as the Asian hornet, Small hive beetle and Tropilaelaps mites. This was just in time for the first Asian hornet incursion in 2016 and the NBU has learnt much since then on how to deal with Asian hornets as well as how to run contingency responses.
Talk by Nigel Semmence
Asian hornet – current situation in UK Nigel will talk about the current situation with Asian hornet in the UK, covering the historic perspective as well as this year’s response. He will cover a summary of the current response as well as details about what to expect from the ongoing science being conducted by Fera Science Ltd on behalf of Defra.
Andrew has kept bees commercially on Colonsay for over 40 years and has wide experience of honey production and queen rearing. He holds the Scottish Beekeepers Association Master Beekeepers Certificate and has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Agriculture. He has teaching experience in both beekeeping and agriculture. Colonsay is home to one of Europe’s few populations of pure Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera), the UK’s native honey bee. The bees on Colonsay are managed for commercial honey production and queen rearing, but are also of unique interest to honey bee conservationists and scientists studying bee diseases. The 50-60 stocks of Black Bees on Colonsay have been isolated and self sustaining for decades. Years of selection have produced a productive and gentle strain. In 2013 the Scottish Government passed an Order under the Scottish Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (2011) WANE that will ensure Colonsay remains a Reserve for Apis mellifera mellifera.
Talks by Andrew Abrahams
The Colonsay Black Bee Reserve and Adaptive Traits of Apis mellifera mellifera
This presentation will outline the harsh and often difficult conditions, where our native honey bee survives and thrives on a remote Hebridean island. A beekeeping management system closely tied to Colonsay’s bee forage has evolved over decades. This management system has aimed at improvement, but also the stability and the long term maintenance of a unique gene pool. These are normally opposing and divergent aims! I want also to highlight some of the adaptive traits of A.m.m. that have evolved over millennia by natural selection. It is these traits that allow Colonsay’s bees and their keeper to survive at the edge!
Nuclei, large and small, their uses and importance for sustainable beekeeping
Every beekeeper should have one or several nuclei; many do not. Beekeeping in the UK could become self sustaining again if all beekeepers became skilled in the use of nuclei. This presentation will illustrate the way my management system on Colonsay uses nuclei to help maintain a closed population and also enables me to sell stocks off island, particularly to the remaining varroa free areas in Scotland. The use of nuclei and mini nuclei for queen rearing and how I manage them throughout the year will be illustrated. The mild winters on Colonsay allow the overwintering of mini nucs.
Randy Oliver sees beekeeping through the eyes of a biologist. He now helps his sons to run a commercial beekeeping operation of around 1500 hives in the foothills of Northern California, managing them for migratory pollination, nuc sales, and queen and honey production -- freeing Randy to engage full-time in beekeeper funded research projects. Randy analyses and digests the scientific research, and is in touch with beekeepers and researchers from all over the world, not only to broaden his own depth of knowledge, but to figure out best management practices for beekeepers everywhere, which he then happily shares through his various articles in bee magazines, speaking engagements, and on his website: www.ScientificBeekeeping.com
Talks by Randy Oliver
Reading the combs: Understanding bee biology over the course of a season
A summary of my series “Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline.” By acquiring an understanding of the biology of the honey bee colony over the course of the season, and seeing how to “read the combs,” the beekeeper can then make their own informed management decisions adapted to their particular situation and goal. I will discuss the cues that trigger bee behaviour, colony nutrition, and the impacts of parasites and pathogens.
Concepts in Varroa Management
Varroa continues to be the number one problem for beekeepers. In our own operation, we’ve successfully managed varroa, without the use of synthetic miticides, since 2001. We’ve tried most every control option, and I’ll share what we’ve found to work (including selective breeding). An effective mite management plan must be based upon the understanding of the biology of the mite. I present important biological concepts to help beekeepers to plan effective mite management strategies tailored to their own operations.
How a colony survives cold winters
This presentation is of interest to those in cold-winter regions. It covers the mechanisms used by this tropical insect as it evolved to survive at colder latitudes – notably the thermodynamics and moisture regulation behaviours involved. I include suggestions for winter preparation, and management through spring.
Tips for handling bees
Tips from a beekeeper with lifetime of experience working bees barehanded (and generally without any protective gear whatsoever). How to understand what initiates the honey bee defence response, and how to avoid triggering it. What “upsets” bees, and what doesn’t. How the bees perceive you. How to enter the bees’ sanctuary respectfully and perform hive inspections with minimal stinging.
Daniel Stabler is a lecturer in Plant-Organism interactions in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton. He has been studying honey bee behaviour and physiology for over 15 years. He is broadly interested in nutrition; particularly the nutrients that plants provide their pollinators. Daniel’s work combines analytical techniques, to quantify the nutrients in nectar and pollen, along with behavioural experiments, to investigate the impacts of available nutrients on honey bee nutrient balancing behaviour, health, and physiology. Bees have co-evolved with plants over 125 million years. Yet, in the short time that humans have been farming, we have drastically changed the nutritional landscape available to bees. He is interested in understanding what these changes mean and how we may be able to mitigate negative impacts. Our bees are kept as research colonies at locations on campus and further afield.
Talk by Daniel Stabler
The influence of pollen essential amino acid composition on macronutrient balancing in honey bees
Proteins provide animals with a source of essential amino acids that are digested and reassimilated in the body. These amino acids cannot be synthesised by an animal and must be consumed from diet. Honey bees have 10 amino acids that are deemed essential. Pollen is the honey bee’s source of protein, and therefore the source of their essential amino acids. However, not all pollens are equal. The quality of a protein source is determined by its composition of the essential amino acids. Pollen of different plant taxa vary greatly in their macronutrient composition, yet how the essential amino acid composition of diet affects nutrient balancing has been little studied.
Paul Jupp is a guerrilla gardener, compulsive litter picker and evangelist for nature, he runs a Community Interest Company, promoting gardening for wildlife and biodiversity and providing seeds. From a long career in the garden industry, Paul now devotes his time to showing people how to create flower meadows for pollinators, in private gardens and public spaces, putting the colour back into our landscapes and counteracting the chronic loss in insect populations. He works closely with local groups and councils, advising on appropriate plant species for specific locations and demonstrating methods for success. “Flowers have a seductive power that engages even the most sceptical onlooker. Every bloom is an uprising of hope in the face of the huge ecological and existential challenges we face. It can be a step towards realising our power to create a more beautiful and positive future.”
Talk by Paul Jupp
The magic of flower meadows in gardens and community spaces - Paul will be sharing best practice, following projects over the last 10+ years - transforming gardens and public green spaces. His work has been powerful in motivating people to get involved in taking action to help pollinators, with every emerging seedling symbolising an uprising of optimism!
Roger Patterson is a practical beekeeper who started keeping bees in his native West Sussex in 1963. He has learnt a lot by observing bees and beekeepers in a wide variety of locations, which has helped him to develop his simple management system and to question what he is told. Roger has learnt a lot from bees, that he passes on to others as a prolific speaker, demonstrator and author of five books. “Live @ the Hive” features him being live streamed inspecting colonies and giving tips from his home apiary. He 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 35. He is President of BIBBA and owns and runs the Dave Cushman website www.dave-cushman.net, which is considered to be one of the world’s most comprehensive beekeeping websites.
Talk by Roger Patterson
A reflection on 60 years in the craft
Since starting beekeeping on 23rd June 1963, I have witnessed many changes, not only in the craft, but life in general. Changes happened for many reasons and in many ways, some gradually, others instantly, some from within, others externally, some good, others less so. In this presentation I will discuss a few of the changes, how they may have influenced future paths and how opportunities may have been taken or missed. This will not be a moaning ramble by an old man who can only remember what happened 60 years ago, but a quick look at how we arrived at the position the craft is in today and how we need to respond to opportunities when they arise.
Michael Palmer, Randy Oliver, Andrew Abrahams and Roger Patterson 200 years of experience in I hour
It isn’t very often that you can hear a discussion that draws on as much beekeeping knowledge and experience as this one will. Four beekeepers with well over 200 years of beekeeping experience between them, three with over 50 years each, will have an impromptu discussion about their experiences - a sort of beekeepers “jam session” (with apologies to musicians). This may include how they have managed situations that have been thrown at them unexpectedly, which may not be found in books. Knowledge and skills built up through many years of working with and observing colonies of bees can be very useful when solving problems in the apiary. All four come from different areas, with different climates, different bees, different legislation, etc. They should be discussing topics that are relevant to all beekeepers, but perhaps from their own position. Questions or topics will not be taken from the floor, but if submitted in advance to email@example.com by 18th October, they may be included in the discussion.
Lynfa Davies lives in Aberystwyth and has kept bees with her husband, Rob, since 2005. 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 (NDB). 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 a variety of beekeeping topics. Lynfa currently has approximately 25 colonies which she manages for honey production and for the joy of looking after bees! Her emphasis is on maintaining strong, healthy colonies and she uses the best of these to raise her own queens.
Lynfa Davies: Varroa control: A sustainable approach
Varroa mites pose a serious threat to the health and viability of our honey bee colonies. Eradication is not a feasible option and so we have to use a variety of methods to keep mite levels under check. This talk will look at the lifecycle of the varroa mite and how this intertwines with the honey bees’ lifecycle, as understanding this is critical to the successful deployment of some control methods. We will look at some of the options available for reducing mite numbers in our colonies, with an emphasis on Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Employing a strategy based on IPM, which combines regular monitoring with a variety of control methods, can help us move towards a more sustainable system with less reliance on chemical treatments.
Daisy Day remembers opening her first colony of bees at a local association meeting almost 20 years ago and being totally hooked from that moment. She currently runs over 100 colonies with her partner (who she met through beekeeping!) Daisy took her exams and gained the Master Beekeeper Certificate in 2012. She has a degree in field biology and ran her own gardening business for many years. In 2019, with her husband, she bought an almost derelict cottage with an acre of neglected woodland which they renovated during lockdown including making their own extraction facility. They are now restoring the woodland including laying the old hedges, replanting with native trees and flowers, creating dead hedges and insect habitat, growing their own vegetables and in between all this, they rehomed three spaniels and 15 chickens! Never a dull moment.
Daisy Day: Plants and Bees – A Symbiotic Relationship
This talk will look at the relationship between bees and plants and why a bee will visit one flower over another and what the flower is gaining in the process. We will look at the structure of plants and the conditions that affect nectar secretion and how the bees collect it and turn it into honey. We’ll look at what type of flowers are useful to bees and some that are not. We’ll learn about pollen - what is it, why do plants produce it and what do bees do with it when they have collected it. Did you know for instance, that an apple blossom may produce up to 100,000 grains of pollen but less than 10 are needed for pollination to take place? And worker honey bees will only become foragers when they reach a certain age?
Roger Patterson is a practical beekeeper who started keeping bees in his native West Sussex in 1963. He has learnt a lot by observing bees and beekeepers in a wide variety of locations, which has helped him to develop his simple management system and to question what he is told.
Roger Patterson: Queen cells: Are they always bad news?
For some strange reason, many beekeepers see queen cells in a colony as a problem and something that should be destroyed, often without knowing why they are there and what damage they can do by squashing them. Queen cells can tell you a lot about what is happening in a colony, so as well as containing the future of a colony, they are a good source of information. This presentation will discuss why queen cells are built, how you can identify them and encourage beekeepers to understand them better, perhaps treating them as opportunities, rather than a danger
Karl Colyer has kept bees since 2003. As well as building his own hives, he raises his own queens using locally adapted bees that are known to be hardy, gentle and productive.
Karl Colyer: Increasing your chances of getting through the first five years of beekeeping
A simple summary of the top-level objectives over the first years as the colony increases in size and age and the beekeeper deals with the challenges and opportunities that being a beekeeper presents over that timeframe.
Follow us for latest news on Facebook, and feel free to share with friends and colleagues.
Follow the National Honey Show Twitter feed in the run up and during the show @nathoneyshow for all the latest news and developments. Receive lecture reminders 15 minutes before they start.
Jean Blaxland Memorial
John Chapple and Bernard Diaper
Also see Sponsors.