Membership – Aims, Objects, Rules

At our recent AGM held in the band Room, Cahir, the provisional set of rules for membership was reviewed and revised and was submitted to the AGM for ratification and adoption.

The Aims and Objectives of the Galtee Bee Breeding Group were also outlined for the benefit of new members and to remind us all of the importance of the work we are currently engaged in.


1.Members must be affiliated to Bee Improvement and Bee Breeding Association (BIBBA).

2.They must be paid up members of an affiliated Beekeeping Association.

3.They should be prepared to master the fundamentals of Bee Breeding in theory and practice.

4.Each member should be capable of assessing the value of a colony for breeding.

5.Each member should maintain a hive record book or colony history book with relevant up to date entries for all colonies.

6.Members should mark all queens and keep a record of their age.



This bee improvement group was formed at a meeting of local beekeepers at Glengarra Wood on Monday, 30th.December 1991. To simplify the working of the group a provisional set of rules and guidelines were drawn up. A working programme for the evaluation, recording, culling and selective breeding of the local bee strains was agreed on. The aims of the group included: the conservation, restoration, study, and selection of the native strains of the Dark European Bee of our own locality including the Galtee/Vee Valley and surrounding areas.


Originally confined to the Galtee/Vee Valley, our area of operation has expanded so that our breeding zone has gradually extended westward to include the valleys of the Funchion and upper Blackwater between the Nagle and Ballyhoura Mountains as far as Mallow. We also progressed eastward along the Suir valley as far as the river Anner and the valley between Slievnamon and the Commeragh Mountains.

We are slowly extending this demarcation line to the east as far as Waterford and westward to Castlemaine harbour. Many of our queens have been distributed along the general area adjacent to this line and southward to the sea as new members have continued to join our group. Members have also joined us from other parts of Munster and Leinster. We will be glad to help beekeepers in other areas of Ireland to start bee improvement groups in their own locality. This would help to ensure the conservation of other local strains of Dark Bees that may differ from the Galtee bees.


Since the Galtee Group commenced its programme of evaluation and selection in the 1992 season considerable progress has been made especially in the field of morphometric assessment and the identification of important behavioural characteristics of our local strains of the native bee. We have consolidated our relationship with BIBBA and we consider it important that our members are also affiliated to that Bee Improvement Association. We have also forged links with Black Bee Improvement Groups in many European countries.


Prior to 1990 the main selection criteria for breeding were levels of honey production and freedom from disease. While maintaining emphasis on these very important economic qualities, more and more consideration has been given to the improvement of behavioural aspects such as temperament and swarming tendency. It became apparent that these last two characteristics were the most important in making beekeeping more attractive to beginners especially the new hobbyist.


It is much easier to manipulate docile bees and it takes far less time to examine a docile colony than an aggressive one. The once widely held belief that vicious bees are better honey producers is erroneous and outdated. Beekeepers who maintain aggressive bees have a negative effect on the promotional work done by F.I.B.K.A. One has to only look at the number of beginners who give up after a year or two as a result of a bad experience with aggressive bees.


There is little need to mention the obvious loss in honey yields that occurs each year as a result of over-swarminess in bees. Next to the characteristic of aggressiveness which is manifested through varying degrees of stinginess and following, the swarming propensity of bees is the other major factor that gives bees and beekeeping a bad name among the members of the general public. It is important to identify and eradicate at the earliest possible opportunity those colonies that are prone to excessive swarming. Members of our group are constantly monitoring cell raising and swarming activity and have identified at least one true supersedure strain.


The greatest single advancement in our bee improvement programme was made in 1994 at Gormanston when Redmond learned the technique of instrumental insemination from Jos Hillen of Belgium and Barry Greenwood (R.I.P). The expensive equipment and instruments were purchased and in the intervening years Redmond Williams has perfected the I.I. technique. I.I. queens are distributed to members of the group who are prepared to evaluate their bees’ behaviour and keep the necessary records that are required for our selection and culling programmes.


The II equipment mentioned in the text photographed in 1994, Photo… Micheál Mac Giolla Coda



In his opening address the Chairman said that the Committee were especially pleased to welcome the new members who were present. He said that he hoped that through their membership of GBBG they would learn to look at their bees in a new light. Through their practice of bee improvement they would find an added pleasure in the craft of beekeeping.



Micheál Mac Giolla Coda.


Dennis Ryan.


Redmond Williams.

Newsletter Editor:

Claire Chavasse.

Varroa Officers:

Dennis Ryan, Ruary Rudd.

Website Manager:

Jacob Kahn.


Jacob Kahn, Liam Rice, Eddie O’Sullivan.

Colony Appraisals


James Power.

Video Librarian:

Redmond Williams.


Sally Percival-Maxwell, Ger O’ Donoghue, Joe Martin, Bea Flavin-Dunphy,


A comprehensive programme of activities was drawn up for the coming year.


An in-depth discussion was chaired by John Donoghue on the revised FIBKA policy on Varroa and the proposed policy on Foul Brood. Both policies were adopted by GBBG and it was recommended that members should practice them to the best of their ability.

Regular classes are staged by GBBG, in order to educate members in how to recognise brood diseases in their own stocks.