The 1998 A.G.M. of the G.B.B.G. was held in the Band Room Cahir.


Another year has come and gone, and many beekeepers will say “good riddance”. It was a wet year, it was a bad year for honey production, and probably for beekeeping and beekeepers in general. Was not this the year of the Varroa !!!.

Looking back on the year, these are the negative thoughts which first come to the surface of my mind. Very bad thinking for a beekeeper whose greatest attribute must be his/her undying optimism even in the face of adversity. Very bad thinking especially for the bee breeder or bee improver, the prerequisite of whom must definitely be the ability to think positively.


So what was so good about 1998 ?. Well, when I retired from my other job after forty years of hard graft, I swore that I would never work again on Sunday, that I would have a long period of complete relaxation at Christmas time, and that I would take a holiday for the whole month of July. Well that was before I decided to do some bee breeding and queen rearing !. I got no holiday this year and I got no holiday any year since I retired from my other job seven years ago. Perhaps one of these days I will retire from my present job and then I will have a good long holiday. Poor me – here I go again. But sure I’m not grumbling, just thinking !.

So where are those positive thoughts ?. For a start I have seen worse years. What about 1980, when I had 100 hives and I got 2001bs of honey from the lot. Yes, a miserly 2.0 1bs per hive on average. That was the year that finished the traditional hay making, as it all rotted in the fields. And we had more bad honey years in the mid eighties, in fact four of them in a row from ’85 to ’88, each one worse than this year.

But what about ’89 that beautiful year when we got the equivalent of two crops of honey. My average was 931bs per hive in ’89 taking into account all hives, good, bad and indifferent, and not counting heather honey which also yielded heavily that year, but I was so busy trying to cope with the volume of floral honey that I left most of the heather on the hives, so that they scarcely needed any feeding, and on top of that there was a tremendous flow from the ivy. I remember one apiary in particular which gave an average of 1601bs per hive, with the best hive yielding 2401bs.

Now that was just one year ending in nine. But all the years which ended in nine during the present century were excellent honey years. So why should 1999 be any different. Well, if it is not good, I will have to swallow my hive tool. And that is Positive thinking !!!

Happy New Year from the Chairman.


Item 2: The minutes of the 1997 A.G.M. (not reported here)


Item 3: Matters arising. (not reported here)


Item 4: Treasurer’s Report. (not reported here)


Item 5:Report on Group Activities 1998.



By Dennis Ryan.

This was held in the Band Hall Cahir on Sunday 29th March. As at other workshops in the past a great interest was shown by the large attendance of beekeepers from all the neighbouring Associations in counties Cork, Waterford and Kilkenny, as well as North Tipperary, Offaly and Meath.

Those interested in Microscopy had a variety of different strength microscopes at their disposal, the main emphasis being placed on dissection of the bee and disease diagnosis. Beekeepers were shown how to set up, dissect, and identify all the parts of the bees body. Two sets of slides with body parts, ready mounted were also available for viewing. The disease section demonstrated the diagnosis of Acarine as done in the field and in the laboratory, while the spores of Nosema and Foul Brood were also on view.


Various types of microscope available for use in GBBG workshops <Picture>


Centre stage however was the Varroa mite and its comparison with Braula. There were many informative leaflets and wall charts on display giving up to date information and first hand advice to beekeepers on this very topical subject. Particular emphasis was placed on the need to maintain constant vigilance in the search for the mite by sending floorboard debris and inserts to Richard Dunne at Kinsealy Research Centre.

Most members brought along samples of thirty bees from their hives for morphometric analysis. This procedure is important in the selection of colonies for breeding purposes. Our primary aim is to propagate the Dark Bee and eradicate mongrel strains. Measurements were taken of wing venation using slide projectors, as well as width of tomenta and length of overhairs. The results of cubital index and discoidal shift were then plotted on a scattergram which identified the purity or otherwise of a colony of bees. Leaflets were available on all aspects of this work and members went away with the confidence to be able to carry out this procedure for themselves. Much credit is due to Micheál and Redmond for the success of the workshop, and our sincere thanks are also due to the Cahir Brass Band for the use of their premises on this and many other occasions.

Preparing honey bee wings for mounting in order to carry out morphometric tests




On Sunday, 26th. April the group members turned out in force for the Open Hive Demonstration at the STBA apiary in Garryclogher near Cahir. The main purpose of this meeting was to try and standardise for all members our methods of colony evaluation and recording. As each colony was evaluated all members present were asked to record on a hive record sheet the ratings they would give for each of the five behaviour characteristics being assessed. Then a comparison and discussion took place, following which an agreed assessment rating figure was recorded. A good deal of similarity of ratings was noted, but there were also some slight variations between individual ratings. It is only by means of such practical demonstrations that all members will be enabled to standardise their methods of using this evaluation procedure.


Colony evaluation and recording, Photo… Micheál Mac Giolla Coda




Members were urged to use field notebooks for recording the evaluation data at each inspection for comparison purposes at the end of the year. This final Colony Appraisal provides a list of the total ratings of all the beekeeper’s colonies from the highest score to the lowest. This is the tool by which the beekeeper selects his breeder colonies for the following year. Colonies selected for breeding purposes should have as a minimum a total rating of at least fifteen points on the five behaviour characteristics, evaluated during the previous season. As well as this, special emphasis is given to docility, and brood pattern, which are at present regarded as the two most essential attributes in our breeding programme. Both these characteristics should therefore have at least an average rating of three in order that a colony be selected as a breeding stock for the following year. Each member was provided with a sample hive record form which gave a detailed explanation of the evaluation procedure on the reverse side of the sheet.



Also demonstrated was a method of assessing Varroa tolerance. This tolerance can be found in bees by evaluating their hygienic behaviour, which helps the bees to combat not only Varroa but also other diseases of the brood, including AFB. One of the ways which this hygienic behaviour is manifested in a colony, is through the ability and alacrity of the bees in uncapping and removing infected brood. The damage caused by Varroa mites can be simulated by using a fine pin to puncture through the cappings. The length of time it then takes the bees to uncap and remove the damaged larvae is then monitored by checking at twenty four hour intervals. About 100 cells per colony are treated in this manner. It is hoped that members will continue to use this method on their own colonies. Members were also encouraged to monitor the length of time during which colonies are without brood in the autumn. The duration of this broodless period can also confer various degrees of Varroa tolerance. This was a demonstration well worth attending and hopefully the group will hold a similar one in the spring of 1999 to help us to move a step further towards synchronising and perfecting our methods of colony evaluation and recording. We are most fortunate that Redmond recorded the entire demonstration and the video is now available to members.



On Sunday, 24th. May, members, their families and friends assembled for an afternoon stroll in the townland of Kilglass near Mitchelstown, With Michael as our excellent guide we walked for about a mile along a narrow bye road, both sides of which were lined with examples of all our broad leaved trees. Masses of whitethorn abounded on all sides, Micheál identified all the pollen and nectar producing trees, shrubs and flowers along the way making special mention of those of particular interest to the bees. With forage in abundance this was a bee’s paradise and sure enough, half-way down the road we were led into one of Micheál’s out apiaries.


The plants which produce nectar and pollen constitute the very foundation of apiculture and a knowledge of them adds much to the pleasure of beekeeping. When we returned to the starting point. We settled down to a picnic which concluded a most enjoyable outing. Once more Redmond was on the spot with his video camera, so that sitting in our armchairs before a cosy winter fire we may be in a position to relive again some time spent in the company of good friends on a most enjoyable summer’s afternoon.



Item 7: Election of Officers.


The following members were re-elected


Micheál Mac Giolla Coda.


Dennis Ryan


Redmond Williams


Item 8: Membership Fees

These were discussed, and the decision was to carry the existing fees forward for the current season.

Report assembled from various sources, by Dave Cushman.