If you are a Beekeeper in Dublin, with beekeeping experience, and tired of buying queens from unreliable sources, then it is time to develop your queen rearing skills and protect the Native Irish Honeybee.
It has long been known the Dark European Honeybee, Apis melifera mellifera, (Amm) the only honeybee native to Ireland, is now on the brink of extinction. It has been hybridised due to imports of other honeybee subspecies and Buckfast bees.
To counteract the potential extinction of the Native Irish Honeybee in Ireland, NIHBS initiated the queen rearing scheme to ensure beekeepers develop their own skills in queen rearing. Grafting from pure native Irish queens, ensures that the future survival of the Native Irish Honeybee (AMM) species is sustained from good genetic material and can flourish on Europe’s most westerly island.
Queen rearing starts with Grafting larva from a pure AMM queen. This is a skilled learned and involves a steady hand and a good eye. Done with a flexible ‘spatula-like’ tool, such as the Chinese grafting tool, or a solid metal tool, such as a dentist’s excavator. The Chinese grafting tool has the advantage of transferring a bed of royal jelly along with the larvae. Each larva is picked up by approaching from the outer convex curve of its ‘c’ shape. The completed grafts are returned to the rearing colony as soon as possible.
Drone production has become a very important part of Queen production as half the genetic make-up of the bees come from the drones. The group starts in early April to ensure half frames of foundations are drawn and lots of drones produced to assist with the mating season from mid-May.
A Mating Site
We have a good mating site where we ensure the area is flooded with drones from a native Irish black queen (AMM) of good stock. Apideas are used where marked virgin queens are inserted with a cupful of young worker bees. As part of your queen rearing effort, instruction is given how to get the best from your Apidea.
The aim of the South Dublin Queen Rearing Group (SDQRG) for Beekeepers in Dublin is:
- To foster friendships and encourage a social friendly supportive environment
- To encourage participation so that you can acquire Queen rearing skills
- To learn the skills needed to carry out your own Queen rearing proficiently.
- To enjoy some tuition from mentors who themselves have been through the Queen rearing cycle and have at least 1 to 2 years experience
- Be part of a queen rearing group that ensures you have the correct equipment to carry out the task and be advised on its use.
- The group’s core aim is to ensure there is good quality genetic AMM queens to breed from.
- At the end of the year queen rearer’s will have sufficient skills and proficiency to pass on to others in the future and indeed become mentors themselves.
Entry criteria for the group:
- 3 or more years of beekeeping experience
- Join and become a member of NIHBS
- Complete the 8-week NIHBS online course (from February to March)
- Be enthusiastic and willing to participate in the group activities
- Be available for group activities from April – August, meeting in Kilternan mating site
Our group of friendly queen rearers was started in response to the call from NIHBS, the Native Irish Honeybee Society to address a skills deficit amongst beekeepers. Our aim is to protect the native Irish honey-bee A.m.m which is under threat from non- native sub species or strains of honey bees being imported to Ireland. The South Dublin Queen rearing group was started in April 2020 by Pat O’Halloran and has some great members, Liam McGarry, Secretary of the County of Dublin Beekeepers association, Dave McManus, Treasurer of Kilternan Beekeepers Association, Donal Flanagan committee member of KBA to name but a few. The group is now lead by John O’Toole who is still learning the art of queen rearing and entering his third year.
We breed native Irish honeybees in an area that will shortly become a Conservation area for the native Irish Honey Bee Apis melifera melifera. The majority of our members are part-time hobby beekeepers, who lack the confidence and skills to rear their own honeybee queens.
Being part of a queen rearing group, is an amazing experience and provides you with an opportunity to learn about native Irish honeybee queen rearing. To join, it is expected you have practised beekeeping for a number of years, and it is most definitely not a group giving instruction on beekeeping. There are plenty of beekeeping courses out there covering that.
The South Dublin Queen Rearing Group is looking for new members. Ideally you have 3 or more years of beekeeping experience and be a member of a local beekeeping association. Best time to join the group is January- March in the run up to the busy season that lies ahead…
Want to find out more?
Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
Text: John O’Toole, Group Leader, 0879854343
Interested in the Environment? … Beekeepers get a special discount off our QQI Environmental Certificate course