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IINGRIDD Logo (originated by Ron Hoskins)
Instrumental INsemination GRoup Information Dissemination Day

This Letter has been posted with Ron's permission...

Saturday 1st September 2001 9.30am - 5.00pm
in the BBKA H.Q. N.A.C. Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Ron Hoskins
10 Larksfield
Swindon
Wiltshire, SN3 5AD
Tel: 01793-525364
Email: ron@honeybee.org.uk

Mary Dartnall and John Pollard have for several years now been running a 'get-together' for those interested in Instrumental Insemination. This year Mary has asked if I would take some of the load off her and take over the Correspondence and Administration? 'Secretary' she called it! But as we are still informal I think I will stay with the C&A. John's expertise keeps him in the driving seat.

I have been given a list comprising most of the names of those that attended the last couple of meetings so you will be the first I approach. It is obvious you were interested in the subject and I would like to think you will still attend and support the project, offering your knowledge and even criticism in order to put the I.I.Group on a growth path to ensure the future of Britain's honeybee population. There may be some raw newcomers who will require the benefit of your knowledge, however weak you may think it is.

"The interest taken by apiculturists and beekeepers in artificial insemination is constantly growing. Private insemination stations have been created in several areas and an increasing number of beekeepers are becoming conversant with the insemination procedure - often in the service of a local group of breeders, but often only for their own needs. By the wide distribution of inseminated queens it should be possible to supply an ever-increasing number of beekeepers with superior breeding stock. Thus instrumental insemination is proving to be a very important part of the beekeeping industry". J.Woyke & Professor Ruttner said that back in 1976, before we had varroa. It is quite an understatement today!

With the continued onslaught by the varroa mite on our honeybee causing a drastic loss of both bee population and number of beekeepers, the need to develop a 'super-bee' is not only urgent but requires the concerted effort of many dedicated beekeepers, especially those with the knowledge of I.I. or are prepared to spend a bit of time learning it.

Natural in-flight mating cannot be relied upon anymore and could take forever and a day to show a positive result that could be lost on the next queen mating. The dedicated beekeeper, armed with I.I. technology and the equipment to perform I.I. will stand a far better chance. Are you that dedicated beekeeper?

Studying and experimenting with our stocks of bees will one day find an hygienic colony? Find two such colonies and we may have bees that could form the Adam and Eve of our future varroa and/or disease tolerant bee. But only by using instrumental mating. Your queens will be sought after and their drones will fill the skies. Natural mating may then have half a chance. Some swarms will go back to the wild, multiply and build up their numbers so that once again there will be a Feral Bee population in greater numbers.

And all with our help as it will probably take many of us, many experiments and possibly many years to find the right bee to use and to inseminate the number of queens that will make the difference. Sharing the effort will spread the load. Sharing information will prevent some unnecessary duplication.

The super-bee may not even be a mono-strain, we will not know that for some time, but whilst looking for the right parent stocks we must not lose sight of the other qualities we wish our bees to have: calmness, non-followers, non-swarmers, good brood pattern, nice capping, productivity, thrifty with winter stores, etc; maybe not in any particular order or all of those qualities in any one strain, but we can dream on in hope.

Some of the group are supporters of the British Dark Bee and are BIBBA members. You may not be, but do not let that deter you. It could be your bee that wins through and not the dark one. Only time will tell, so come out fighting and let the best bee win and beekeepers will then come flooding back. (There were over 400 beekeepers in Wiltshire when varroa struck. There are now just over 160. That is much the same pattern right throughout the nation. We must reverse that trend and get people interested in beekeeping again.

All of this is only likely to happen if we keep meeting, exchanging ideas and knowledge so please do come along. If you know of others that are 'like-minded' and have either the interest or are skilled in I.I. technology? Let me have their details.

As yet these meetings are quite informal. If enough people become interested then we could really go forward and perhaps formalise the group, with a member's newsletter to exchange information, successes (and failures). We can learn from failures too.

Please reply early. The agenda will only be finalised when attendant numbers are known and the attached questionnaire is returned. And time is running out.

Though Bill Dartnall will be providing some queens and drones to 'play with', if you are able will you aim to provide some too? The more the better.

There will be a small charge to cover the cost of speakers, hire of hall, administration postage, refreshments and biscuits. But not for the packed lunch that you should supply for yourself!

See you there... Ron Hoskins


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Written... Summer 2001, Revised... 09 September 2001, Revised... 21 January 2003,