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Meetings 2014

The DBKA monthly meeting programme January to Oct is as follows:

  • 21st January 2014 BBC Gardeners' Corner Road Show
  • 18th February Ben Harden “Spring Management”
  • 18th March Mary Montaut “Planting For Bees”
  • 15th April Tony Jefferson, Yorkshire “Simple Beekeeping”
  • 10th May DBKA Outing to Killineer House Hosts Louth BKA.
  • 20th May Mary Coffey “Living With Varroa”
  • June DBKA Summer BBQ Tullyhenan Apiary
  • 19th August Irene Power “Making Increase”
  • 16th Sept AGM Presentation Sam Millar
  • 21st Oct. Expert Panel Vanessa, Robert, Willie & Patrick

18th February Ben Harden “Spring Management”

Ben’s first encounter with bees was with the African Honeybee, referred to in Hollywood movies as ‘killer bees’, while he was at school in Kenya. The experience did not deter him and on his return to Ireland he started to keep bees in 1975. During the past forty years he has progressed through success in the Federation of Irish Beekeeping Association’s Senior Certificate to the UK National Diploma in Beekeeping. He is currently Education Officer for Gorey Beekeeping Association on the south eastern coast of Ireland. Ben is well known throughout Ireland north and south for the Ben Harden Method of rearing honey bee queens. Rearing queens is the aspiration of all beekeepers and Ben is seen as one of the experts of this process. Ben’s visit to Dromore will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the local beekeeping calendar.


18th March Mary Montaut “Planting For Bees”

Mary Montaut regards herself as a perpetual beginner with bees, and something the same with gardening; but she has a passion for plants which goes back as long as she can remember.  Her family lived in Australia when she was in her teens, and the strangeness of the bush and the insect life there made two indelible impressions - she wanted to know the names of all the plants, and to avoid being stung by most of the insects.  Her delight at finding the two things so properly combined in beekeeping remains vivid.  It gives her the perfect excuse for finding out the names and habits of lots of plants because they are good for bees.  At the same time, the environmental importance of all sorts of bees and other pollinators gives more than sufficient reason to investigate these extraordinary creatures.

In a former life she was a teacher of literature, so here is a suitably literary quotation, slightly tweaked for her talk on Planting for Bees

"How could such sweet and wholesome hours / Be reckoned, but with [Bees] and Flowers?" which I'm sure you all know from Andrew Marvell's lovely poem, The Garden.


15th April Tony and Alan Jefferson “Simple Beekeeping”

The Jeffersons are 3 generations of beekeepers, based in the NE of England near Whitby and are descendants of Captain Cook.  Allan who is 80 this year (still clearly the ‘boss’) Tony (Son and apprentice  and Richard (Grandson / Nephew the apprentice-apprentice). They pride themselves of having 100 years + of practical beekeeping between them and practice simple beekeeping. They hate the plethora of complex information produced in many bee books and demonstrate ‘hand-on’ practical beekeeping.

The native black bee breeding is their passion and Tony hates the term ‘Queen Rearing’ he prefers to call the process ‘bee breeding’ more emphasis on drones than queens is practiced. Raising up to 30-40 nursery colonies each year for own use and any more for sale.

All 3 of them have had showing successes at local, County and National levels and Tony has produced a book which he hopes can tempt you to buy he says it great value at 5p per year of experience !

Dr John McMullan, on "Acarine & Nosema, a broad perspective”.

Dr John McMullan was the guest speaker at Dromore Beekeepers’ Association on Tuesday 19th November.  John was brought up in Rasharkin, County Antrim, but now lives in Malahide, north  Dublin.


It is rare that a very experienced beekeeper is also a bee scientist.  This is what made John a most appropriate speaker on diseases for practical beekeepers.  John has kept bees in Malahide and also in Galway for many years and so has observed the differences in forage from the green deserts around his home in Malahide to the less intensively farmed land around his apiary in Galway.   He is secretary of his local Beekeepers’ Association and teaches a Preliminary class each year and so he has his feet firmly on the ground.


John pointed out that there is a strong relationship between environment, available forage, management and bee diseases.  A colony in a damp shaded area, with little natural forage and managed badly is always more susceptible to disease.


John divided his talk into three sections; the first dealt with environment and management, the second with Nosema and the third with Acarine.


On Nosema, he dealt with the two strains currently present in Ireland and the prevention, management and treatment of this condition.  He pointed out that his hives in Galway were in a sheltered open sided building, free from damp and surrounded by excellent forage.  These colonies never suffered from Nosema!  Wood lice can appear in damp hives whereas earwigs can appear in dry hives.


In dealing with Acarine, the subject on which he did his PhD, John pointed out that because of the widespread use of products containing Thymol to control Varroa, Acarine was not currently a problem.  He warned, though, that, as a consequence, bees were not developing or maintaining their resistance to Acarine and when Thymol was no longer used, Acarine could flare up.


There has long been misunderstanding about whether or not Acarine was the cause of Isle of Wight disease early this century.  Dr Leslie Bailie, working at Rothamstead  in the fifties, claimed that the heavy mortality was due to a virus, Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus.  More recent research, including John’s, has confirmed that Acarine is the real problem which has since caused huge mortality in countries where it was introduced for the first time.  Many textbooks have yet to take this on board.