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