Report on the 1996 AGM

Paid up membership at the time was:-

Dr. Jacob Kahn, Liam Rice, Micheál Mac Giolla Coda, Dennis Ryan, Redmond Williams.

Date and Time

The AGM of GBBG for the year 1996 was held on Sunday 23rd March 1997 at Fermoy Community Resource Centre, commencing at 2.00p.m. Present were Dr. Jacob Kahn, Micheál Mac Giolla Coda, Liam Rice and Dennis Ryan. Apologies were received from David Lee, Gerard O’Donoghue and Redmond Williams.

Chairman’s report

Micheál showing a frame of queencells to Dr. Ralph Buchler of Kirchhain Bee Institute, Photo… Tom Kehoe, 9th September 2006 The Chairman Micheál welcomed those present especially the two new members, Liam and Jacob. He listed the aims of GBBG and gave a brief account of the progress made during the past five years. He emphasised the continued importance of culling undesirable queens because if this aspect of bee improvement is neglected our bees would within a short time revert to their former state of swarminess and aggressive behaviour. He said that 1996 was a great year for Irish beekeeping with a flood of important achievements, progressive developments and truly memorable events, e.g. the success of Aer Lingus Young Scientists’ beekeeping project, first Irish BIBBA Conference, location of drone congregation areas at Gormanston, visit to the Galtee/Vee Valley of Dr Ralph Buchler of Kirchhain Bee Breeding Institute, Germany, and continued progress by GBBG in the field of Instrumental Insemination, to mention but a few.

Item 1. Minutes of last AGM.

The minutes of the last AGM were read and adopted. Three matters arose from the minutes:-

(a)   Micheál congratulated the three girls from Portarlington, Elsie O’Sullivan, Patricia Lyle and Rowena Mooney on the continued success of their Bee Morphometry Project [future link]- “The Perfect Queen Bee” at the European Young Scientists’ competition held in Helsinki, where they were awarded third place which included an invitation to represent Europe at the American Young Scientists Exhibition. It was felt that the results of the survey should be published and that the girls should be encouraged to do so perhaps under the auspices of BIBBA. The survey would provide much basic information for future work at second and third level colleges. Jacob offered to carry out further study on Micheál’s breeding stock using correlation coefficients on both morphometric measurements and evaluation records of behaviour characteristics.

(b)   Micheál also congratulated members who passed exams in 1996: Ger and Dennis on their Senior Certificates and Redmond on passing his Lecturer’s examination.

(c)   The BIBBA Conference. Micheál thanked all those who supported and helped out at the conference especially the very important preparatory work carried out prior to the visit of conference delegates to the apiaries in the Galtee/Vee Valley. Many of the delegates said that this was the highlight of their visit to Ireland when they stood without protection in an apiary of Black Irish Bees as colony after colony were opened and manipulated and nobody got stung. Thanks to Redmond for recording on video this historic event. The video is now available to all group members.


Patsy Bennett talking to the BIBBA convention at Clonroache Bee Research Unit on the occasion of the Kildalton Conference of 1996

Item 2. Workshops.

Microscopy is of great importance to bee breeding as well as every other aspect of beekeeping. It was therefore decided to hold a microscopy and morphometry workshop on Sunday 11th May from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Band Room at Pearse Street in Cahir.

Item 3. Video Library.

Both video tapes and audio tapes on beekeeping and related subjects are now available from Redmond. It was felt that a time limit of two weeks should be put on their use by members. An important addition this year is the video made by Redmond of the visit to Micheál’s breeding apiary of Dr Ralph Buchler, the well known bee scientist from Kirchhain bee breeding Institute in Germany. He was most impressed with what he found and he said that Micheál’s bees were comparable to the Carniolan bees of his own locality as regards docility. A compliment like this is most welcome and great credit is due to Micheál for achieving such success through his bee improvement programmes. This should spur the group on to even greater efforts in the future.

Item 4. Colony Appraisals and Hive Records.

Colonies to be selected for breeding purposes should have as a minimum a total rating of 15 points on the five characteristics evaluated during the previous season. Docility and brood pattern are at present regarded as the two most important characteristics for our current breeding programme and these should have an average of at least three points each for a colony to be included in the following year’s selection of breeding stock. The year 1996 was an ideal year for testing the swarming tendencies of colonies as the incidence of swarming was much higher than in previous years. Thus colonies which did not raise swarm cells in 1996 might be regarded as having low swarming tendencies and should be well worth monitoring further in this respect. Micheál thanked those members who had sent him end of season colony appraisals. Those who did not have their colony records summarised as yet were requested to do so and forward same. Such records will become more and more important as our colonies continue to improve and will greatly assist in monitoring the progeny of I.I. queens in particular.

Item 5. Instrumental Insemination.

Many different combinations of breeding strains were used in the insemination programme during 1996 and well over one hundred inseminations were carried out by Redmond. Evaluation records for 1997 and 1998 should show which combinations are best for our purposes. Evaluation of queens inseminated during 1995 and 1996 are already at this stage giving some very interesting results. Micheál expressed gratitude to Redmond in particular who has, to date, inseminated two hundred queens and without whose skill and dedication this very important work would not be possible.



Redmond and Jacob preparing for an II session, Photo… Micheál Mac Giolla Coda


Item 5. Allocation of Functions.


Micheál Mac Giolla Coda


Dennis Ryan


Jacob Kahn

Hive Records Controller:

Micheál Mac Giolla Coda

Instrumental Insemination:

Redmond Williams

Video/Audio Librarian:

Redmond Williams

Apiary Location Registrars:

David Lee, Ger O’Donoghue, Liam Rice


Item 6. Membership Fee.

A Membership fee of £5 was agreed on. This would be in addition to each member’s affiliation to BIBBA is currently £10 sterling. Every effort would be made to provide members with some free breeder queens next year as heretofore. Dennis agreed to act as treasurer as well as secretary for the coming year.

Item 7. Varroa Tolerance of Apis mellifera mellifera.

In preparation for the inevitable influx of Varroa into this country there is an urgent need to identify strains of native bees that may have a certain degree of tolerance to this disease. One of the principal ways in which this tolerance can be identified in bees is by the evaluation of the hygienic behaviour characteristic which helps the bees to combat not only Varroa but also other brood diseases including AFB. One of the ways in which this hygienic behaviour is manifested in colonies is by the uncapping and removal of infected brood by the bees. The damage caused by the varroa mites can be simulated by using a fine pin to puncture the pupae through the cappings. The length of time it then takes the bees to uncap and remove the injured pupae is then monitored. About 100 cells per colony are treated in this manner.

It is intended to draw up a work plan at our next outdoor meeting in May when the method can be fully demonstrated so that members can use it on their own colonies. A method of assessing brood viability will also be demonstrated. Members will also be advised to monitor the length of time during which colonies are without brood in autumn. The duration of this broodless period may also confer various degrees of Varroa tolerance. Due to the number of Dark Galtee queens which have been distributed throughout England and Wales there is a growing body of knowledge as to their comparative tolerance or susceptibility as many of them or their descendents are being incorporated into various Varroa monitoring research projects.

Item 8. Revision of Breeding Zone Boundary.

Our aim should be to continue to expand the area of the pure breeding zone. Enthusiastic and progressive beekeepers from adjoining areas should be invited to join. The Galtee Group with this end in view. West Waterford in particular could be regarded as one of the most strategic areas having some excellent beekeepers who would link up with existing group members in South Tipperary, North Cork and East Cork.

Item 9. Apiary Location.

It was agreed that the location of all members apiaries should be recorded on 1/2 inch O.S. maps as well as the location of other beekeepers’ apiaries and known wild colonies within the breeding zone. Apart from breeding purposes this information could be invaluable in the event of Varroa being found in the area. Indeed it was felt that the group should have it’s own contingency plans for such an eventuality and that a sub committee of the group should be formed with a view to drawing up such a plan. Micheál has recorded on a map of Ireland the location of all Galtee queens which have been sent out in recent years. Addresses of recipients are also on record so that breeding material can be retrieved from these sources at some future date if necessary.

A future meeting was scheduled for May. Proposed subject matter being:-

  1. Standardisation of methods of colony evaluation and recording.
  2. Method of assessment of brood viability.
  3. A method for monitoring Varroa tolerance.


Report compiled from the minutes of the meeting that were recorded by Dennis Ryan (Group Secretary).