Galtee Bee Breeding Group — Annual Report – 2008 for year 2007.

Claire Chavasse

This past year saw GBBG experience its saddest event since its foundation with the death of one of our most valued members. Claire Chavasse had served as Editor of our newsletter, “The Four Seasons” since its inception. She has left her stamp on its layout and format and it will serve to keep her memory alive for many years to come. Many thanks to Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda who succeeded her as Editor for managing to produce the usual four issues during the past year. It is fitting that the current issue was dedicated to Claire and includes tributes from many of her friends and colleagues in beekeeping. Tributes were also paid to Claire in bee journals including An Beachaire, Bee Improvement, and Bee Craft.

The Weather

The weather pattern during the year 2007 was not conducive to a heavy honey yield and conditions for queen rearing were far from ideal at times. However our dark native bees seem to have given a good account of themselves and retained any honey they stored in the early part of the year. Though queen mating was difficult during the mid summer good results were obtained during the autumn. Late flows from ling and bell heather, Himalayan balsam and ivy ensured that colonies have gone into winter in good condition.

Dun Aonghusa Work Days

Two work days were held in the breeding apiary on February 25th. and April 15th. Even though the numbers who turned out were small a lot of work was accomplished. Many thanks to the faithful few who regularly attend to assist with some of those very essential tasks.


Many of our members attended the Ulster Beekeepers’ Association’s Spring Convention at Greenmount College on March 23rd. and 24th.. We continue to have excellent relationship with our counterparts in Northern Ireland especially the Ulster Bee Improvement Group and we avail of every opportunity to share with each other our accumulated knowledge.

Morphometry Workshop

On 1st. April a morphometry workshop led by Jacob Kahn and Liam Rice was held in the Band Room. A report by Pat Lenihan has appeared in The Four Seasons.

BBKA Conventions at Stoneleigh and Cheshire

A number of GBBG members attended the BBKA Convention at Stoneleigh on 20th. and 21st April. The Chairman had the honour of giving presentations on both days on breeding native bees. He also accepted an invitation to give a talk on this subject to the Cheshire Beekeepers’ Association’s Annual Convention in September.

BIBBA Annual General Meeting

Some GBBG members attended the AGM of BIBBA at Stoneleigh on 22nd. April. A lecture entitled  Varroa Tolerance/Resistance in Apis mellifera  was delivered by Dr Stephen Martin. The BIBBA Morphometry project was launched by Dr. Mervyn Eddie. Having served a three year term as President the Chairman of GBBG was again elected to that office. Other members of GBBG who were elected to the Central Committee of BIBBA included Mervyn Eddie, Dennis Ryan, and Alan Jones. A full report has been published in BIM by Sandra Unwin as well as an article by Mervyn on the Discovery Project.


On May 27th we held a workshop for members of GBBG. The main purpose of these workshops is to train our members so that they can demonstrate the various skills involved in bee improvement and queen rearing to the members of Beekeeping Associations around the country. A comprehensive report on our spring workshop was compiled by Claire Chavasse who was present on the day and was published in the Autumn issue of Bee Improvement Magazine. Gerry and Mary Ryan have also written a report on this event in The Four Seasons.

Visit from N. Tipperary and Co. Kerry BKAs

On 10th. June we were hosts to beekeepers from N. Tipperary and Co. Kerry Associations. Our members demonstrated various techniques involved in breeding. This event was fully reported by Tom Prendergast in The Four Seasons and by Ruary Rudd in An Beachaire.

Garden Walk

On Sunday 17th. June our annual garden walk was organised and led by Jim Ryan when by kind invitation of the owner Mrs Moss we visited Kilfane Glen in Co Kilkenny. A report on this most enjoyable family outing by Jim Power appears in The Four Seasons.


As usual many of our members played various roles in organising and running the Gormanston Summer Course. Congratulations to all concerned on the continued success of this unique beekeeping event. GBBG in conjunction with other BIBBA members are pleased to disperse their expertise and acquired skills through the various outdoor demonstrations and morphometry and I.I. workshops as well as lectures. Congratulations to those members who won prizes in the Irish National Honey Show and those who worked so hard to make it such a success especially Redmond in his role as Honey Show Secretary. The five-year plan for a country-wide morphometry survey was launched at the opening ceremony. Full reports by Eddie O’Sullivan appear in The Four Seasons and in BIM by Terry Clare, Sandra Unwin, and John Hendrie.

Visit of Estonian Beekeepers

We also played host to a party of Estonian beekeepers who were very impressed with our native Irish bees especially their docility as nobody wore a veil even though several hives and Apideas were opened. A report has been sent by Gerry and Mary Ryan to The Four Seasons.


One of our Drone Congregation Areas was visited by Dr Robert Paxton of Queens University, Belfast and Rodolfo Jaffe, a PhD student working with Prof. Robin Morritz of Halle University in Germany to collect samples of drones as well as samples of bees from Dun Aonghusa in connection with their research into viral diseases and genetic variation under the BEESHOP programme. At their invitation I had the privilege of attending the annual BEESHOP Symposium in Uppsala, Sweden in September.

GBBG Morphometry Survey

The survey is progressing within the pilot area, but much better response from members is needed to obtain samples from members of their own BKAs for this important survey to succeed. This year we have been fortunate to have engaged the services of students in UCC who have previously carried out morphometry projects to do the time consuming and tedious work of wing mounting prior to analysing the results from the samples submitted. Our thanks are due to Dr Pádraig Whelan of U.C.C. who has undertaken to co-ordinate this work and to Dr Jacob Kahn for his expert advice and encouragement.

Conservation of Genetic Resources

This year we received some funding under the scheme for the Conservation of Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture. The bulk of this funding is being used to finance GBBG’s morphometry project. A submission has been made to Department of Agriculture for funding to help finance the morphometry project during the year 2008.


Heartiest congratulations to all our members who won prizes at the many Irish Honey Shows as well as the British National Honey Show in London. Congratulations also to those members who were successful in the examinations held by FIBKA. We wish them continued success in their studies and in their beekeeping careers.

Thank You

A special thank you to my fellow officers: Secretary, Michael Maunsell; Treasurer, Gay Noonan and Editor; Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda, and to those members who were so generous in helping me during the year. A very special thank you also to Redmond for his help in I.I. Even though he is a very busy man he devoted four days to this most important bee breeding operation at Dun Aonghusa. Please forgive me if I have omitted to thank somebody who has done a particular service for the group.

Micheál Mac Giolla Coda – Chairman.