The Ormskirk and Croston Branch started a queen rearing programme in 2003. The bees in the local area were of variable quality and temperament. In order to get some stability it was decided to concentrate on the native dark bee, which is best suited to the local environment in the North of England. There being no 'pure' native bees in the area we started using Galtee Bee Breeding Group queens. Mating was carried out at the Blackburn out apiary at Holden Clough.
The breeding programme was extended during 2005 and 2006. Native queens from Derbyshire were used to give variation in the gene pool.
A marked queen on a brood frame
In 2007 it was decided to extend the range of experience across Lancashire and a workshop was held at our Kings Moss out apiary. Terry Clare (now President) of BIBBA was the Principal with assistance from experts from the Alnwick beekeepers. Forty people from across the county attended. Instruction and practice was given in grafting, making up nucs, transferring queen cells, etc.
A further workshop was held in 2009 when 20 selected Lancashire members attended. The objective of this course was to give each branch the expertise to be able to do their own queen rearing. The gene pool was added to by bringing in native bees and queens from the Alnwick beekeepers.
A marked queen running into the darkness
Over the past 3 years some queens have been taken for mating at an isolated apiary in North Wales. These queens have been noticeably more docile than those mated locally.
An empty queen cell
The intention since 2011 is to develop a system so that we are producing a regular supply of queen cells and mated queens for distribution to our members.