The mission to breed the best Manx bee possible gathers pace this week with the visit of bee specialist Roger Patterson.
As a trustee of the British Beekeepers’ Association and vice chairman of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association, he first visited the island in January to advise the IoM Beekeepers’ Foundation.
His visit was in anticipation of the EU decision to allow the island to ban the importation of bees, to protect it from the deadly varroa virus, which is decimating hives worldwide.
The federation established the Bee Improvement Committee, a subcommittee which is focused on breeding the best bee – the most fertile with the best temperament.
Committee member Johnny Kipps said: ‘Roger’s main mission is to find queens from the best apiaries and use those to improve the gene stock. He will give instruction on queen-rearing. He will visit as many apiaries as he can to assess them and find as many black bees which give evidence they are more docile but productive.’
This Friday and Saturday he will give demonstrations of making nuclei, setting up colonies for raising queen cells and queens at the training apiary in St John’s.
On Sunday, he visits colonies in the north and east and turns his attention to colonies in the centre and south of the island on Monday.
Johnny said since the ban was introduced, ‘there has been quite a lot more interest from people wanting to be bee keepers and from people – some from across – who want to buy Manx queens.’