NIHBS Membership

2020 annual membership is 25 Euro and includes 4 copies of the Four Seasons magazine.
Join now via Paypal or use your credit card to become a member for the first time or to renew an existing membership.

If you want to renew membership via the membership form, it can be downloaded here
if you want to make a donation to NIHBS at any time you can do it here

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Connemara ‘Hybrid Bee’ alert


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Current NIHBS Statement regarding the importation of bees into Ireland

STATEMENT Against Importing Bees into Ireland 170521 (C)

Click here to check out the links in the document

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Annual COLOSS survey

This annual COLOSS Survey is a key task in the National Apiculture Programme and is part of an international survey on monitoring winter colony losses across Europe and beyond. To ensure that the data collected is representative of Irish beekeeping, it is pertinent that as many beekeepers as possible complete the Survey. Irrespective of the number of colonies you have, or the number of years you are beekeeping, please consider completing the Survey. It is a relatively simple survey which aims to quantify winter colony losses as well as identifying possible causes. The preliminary analysis of the Irish data from last year’s COLOSS survey will be  published in the next edition of the IBA newsletter and An Beachaire.

The format and time frame for the dissemination of this year’s  survey remains the same, therefore like previous years, the survey will be available online on the National Apiculture Programme webpage at

You can download the survey form here

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Bee import plan could have a sting in the tail

They say a plan by English businessman Patrick Murfet to next month use Northern Ireland as a staging post in his bid to import up to 15 million Italian bees into Britain, poses a threat to the health of the region’s bee population and to its future viability.

Full story in the Irish News

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Statement regarding potential honeybee imports into Ireland

The Statement below from NIHBS is also supported by IBA, UBKA and INIB. These
organisations cover a substantial number of beekeepers in Ireland.
IBA – The Irish Bee Beekeepers Association CLG has approximately 1200 members from 24 affiliated local beekeeping associations and one of their objectives is to foster the skills of beekeeping, in an environmentally sustainable manner.
UBKA – The Ulster Beekeepers Association is an Association of fourteen affiliated local
Beekeeping Associations in Ulster with approximately 1200 members.
INIB – The Institute of Northern Ireland Beekeepers is a charitable organisation and is an
affiliated area association of the BBKA. It has a deep commitment to educating and
informing the public about beekeeping. Each year the INIB runs a programme of events to
help inform and educate people about honeybees and about the craft of beekeeping.

STATEMENT from The Native Irish Honey Bee Society on Importing Bees into

The Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS) is an all-Ireland organisation of about 500
members, whose sole aim is the conservation and preservation of the population of Native
Irish Honey Bees – Apis mellifera mellifera.

Reports in the media continue about importing even more bees to Ireland and apart from the danger of hybridisation for native bees we all know there are major risks of also importing pests, diseases and pathogens – therefore a threat to ALL our bees. Everyone who loves bees, no matter what association or organisation they belong to, can appreciate the potential damage – we have seen what Varroa did, and now those who enjoy beekeeping as a hobby or who are making their living from bees may have their enjoyment/livelihood threatened -simply to increase someone else's profits.

The Dark European Honeybee, Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm) is on the brink of extinction over most of its original territory of Northern Europe. It has been hybridised due to imports of other sub species and consequent cross breeding, as well as being severely impacted by imported pests and diseases.

Pure strains still exist throughout Ireland however and scientific research has shown that such a widespread population of pure A. m. mellifera has not been reported elsewhere in Europe.
Have you read this paper? (Full article: A significant pure population of the dark European
honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) remains in Ireland ( It is now widely
acknowledged that Ireland has a unique genetic resource which needs to be protected for the sake of its future in Ireland but also in European Amm breeding programs.
A recent survey by the National University of Galway (NUIG) confirmed that about 90% of
beekeepers in Ireland work with Amm (of 350 respondents) and there is a significant interest in using the local bee. A separate survey by the Irish Beekeepers Association (IBA) showed that 82% use Amm, 7% Buckfast, 2% other and 5% do not know. The native black bee is actually the preferred bee for large scale honey producers as it is so well adapted to our particular environment.

Many NIHBS members have been working for 30 years and more to improve, conserve and preserve our local bee – all volunteers, simply doing the right thing for the bees. Many local Beekeeping associations have created Voluntary Conservation Areas where beekeepers agree to work with Amm only – obviously imported bees have a detrimental effect here and some areas are now being severely threatened with the introgression of non-native bees.

We all know how devastating an invasion of Small Hive Beetle could be. In Ireland, we
stayed free from Varroa for many years after it arrived into UK, until it was brought in here
on imported bees, very soon it was everywhere and we have had to struggle with the
consequences ever since. We understand that EFB is now wide spread in some parts of UK –
we are very fearful of what that could do to our stocks, especially the newly spreading Type 3 strain of EFB? The Asian Hornet is another significant threat.

These pests/diseases/pathogens may also damage our Bumbles, Solitary and other Wild bees – our biodiversity – already 1/3rd of Irish bees are threatened with extinction.

The awful thing is that we beekeepers CAN stop these threats, if we work together and all
agree to do so. It is not too late! It really does not make sense to bring in non-native bees to this island. It makes sense to propagate from our good stocks here and improve them.

It is unfair for any individual or Bee Trader to take the decision on themselves to import bees when they might also be importing pests, diseases or pathogens, not to mention the as yet unknown or undiscovered ones. Please do not take the risk.

We urge everyone to respect our native honey bee and not to import any bees into any part of Ireland. We ask all Beekeeping groups in Ireland to encourage beekeepers to purchase local bees from reputable beekeepers.

While we still can, let us appreciate what we have, nurture it and save it for the future.

The Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS) – Chairperson, Aoife Nic Giolla Coda
The Irish Bee Beekeepers Association CLG (IBA) – Chairperson, Derek Hanley
The Ulster Beekeepers Association (UBKA) – Chairperson, John Hill
The Institute of Northern Ireland Beekeepers(INIB) – Chairperson, Lyndon Wortley
19th March 2021

Some useful links here:-

Bee importation




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NUIG bee treatment survey

Dear Beekeeper,

In recent years some beekeepers in Ireland have begun to monitor levels of varroa in their hives and to only treat colonies that are not controlling varroa themselves. Some beekeepers have colonies doing well for multiple years without having to apply chemicals. Little of this is reported or documented in any clear fashion, nor is the mechanism for how the bees are coping in the presence of varroa known.  To further develop and support such efforts to have chemical-free beekeeping it is important to know if Irish beekeepers generally regard varroa resistance/tolerance traits as important for beekeeping. It could be very beneficial to bring beekeepers who are already trying to reduce chemical use and breed varroa resistant/tolerant bees together to see if we can cooperate to share knowledge, to acquire additional resources to develop bee improvement in Ireland, and to make such bees available to others. The work towards breeding such bees is difficult and time consuming so a cooperative effort would be a potentially good way forward.

As such we would be grateful if you would consider completing the survey either in hard copy (send by post), or do it online. We will report back the general findings of the survey to all beekeeper groups as the information should be of interest to all beekeepers. All personal information will be protected and kept strictly confidential in accordance with GDPR protocols. The survey below has been adapted from a survey developed and published by researchers In Switzerland with their permission (Guichard et al., 2019,

Thanks and best wishes,

Grace McCormack

To complete in hardcopy please pull out the survey from the NIHBS Four Seasons magazine, complete legibly and post to me or Stephen Smith, Zoology, Room 323 MRI, NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland:

To complete online visit:

Please complete by Jan 15th 2021

You can also download the survey via the link and post it via email.

Bee Treatment Survey



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COLOSS: Honey Bee Colony Loss/Survival Survey 2019/2020

COLOSS: Honey Bee Colony Loss/Survival Survey


Dear Secretary and fellow beekeepers
This short correspondence is a reminder that it is now time to complete the year’s annual
COLOSS survey on winter colony losses. To ensure that the data collected is representative
of Irish beekeeping, it is pertinent that as many beekeepers as possible complete the
Survey. Irrespective of the number of colonies you have, or the number of years you are
beekeeping, please consider completing the Survey. It is a relatively simple survey which
aims to quantify winter colony losses as well as identifying possible causes.
Since 2008, this annual COLOSS survey has been carried out as part of the National
Apiculture Programme. However this year, because the 2019-2022 National Apiculture
Programme is still out for tender, John Breen and I have agreed to conduct this year’s
COLOSS survey in a personal capacity, thus ensuring the continuity of the monitoring
programme. We obtained an extension of the University of Limerick Ethics Permission to
conduct it. This means that personal information in the responses will be treated in
accordance with the conditions of the Ethics permission: the data will only be accessed by
John Breen and me for the purpose of the Survey, and no other purpose. Any data passed to the central COLOSS consortium will be anonymized (no names and no actual addresses). The data will be stored on a password protected and encrypted laptop owned by the University of Limerick. Because of the Covid-19 situation, neither John nor I may have access to our work addresses; hence I am using my HOME address as the return address for the paper version of the Survey.
The format of this year’s Survey is similar to previous years and includes 27 short
questions. The survey may be completed manually by downloading the pdf file attached
or online by clicking on the hyperlink: using a
computer, laptop, android or iphone.
To ensure that beekeepers can access the survey in the easiest way possible, this
hyperlink: and all versions of the survey will also
be forwarded to the secretary of your local beekeepers associations for circulation to all
members and will also be available on the NIHBS webpage.
Please participate as your contribution will be very much appreciated
Thank you
Mary F/ John

The annual COLOSS survey on winter colony losses is now available for completion online by
clicking the hyperlink:
Alternatively, it can be completed manually by printing the pdf file
Completed surveys should be returned to Mary F Coffey, Oldtown, Templemore, Co Tipperary
Closing date is 1 June 2020

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Bernadette Ferguson

We were very sorry to learn of the sudden death of our respected friend and colleague Bernadette Ferguson on April 9th 2020.  
Bernadette was a lovely and inspirational woman who, as a member of The Native Irish Honey Bee Society since 2015, worked very hard to help conserve the native Honey Bee, always in a good humoured and pleasant way, despite her health problems.  Bernadette is a great loss to us all and we will miss her.  
We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to her son Caoimhan, her partner Giles, her parents, brothers, sisters and extended family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h’anam dilis.
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Sicamm Conference Athlone postponed until September 2021

NEW Dates – 3rd to 5th September 2021 and black bee excursions on 5th & 6th


Good news!  We are delighted to confirm that our key speakers, Tom Seeley, Andrew Abrahams and Raffaele Dall’Olio will still be able to attend. 

UPDATE – December 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We hope you are keeping well despite Covid-19.  Looking after our bees kept many of us sane this year when other areas were very difficult.

Here in Ireland, we are learning to live with the virus and looking forward to having an effective vaccine soon. Earlier this week the 14 day Incidence Rate in the Republic of Ireland was 108 new cases per 100,000 of the population.  So far we have had 72,500 confirmed cases and 2053 deaths (our population is almost 5 million).

We are contacting you now just to confirm that the SICAMM conference is still planned for September 2021, as previously advised.

We also wanted to remind anyone who has already paid, that IF you would like a refund of the conference booking fee, please email me and we will arrange this via Paypal.  You must contact the hotel or B&B directly regarding the cancellation of accommodation bookings.

The situation will be kept under review, NIHBS and SICAMM board representatives will discuss in Spring 2021 and we will contact you again when more definite information should be available. 

We will soon circulate a Newsletter with more details of the conference program and updates about the SICAM mellifera FOUNDATION.  

Meanwhile, have a good winter, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you next year. 

IF you do not want further communications about this conference, please reply and I will remove your name from our list.

Regards, Loretta                                                                           Regards, Marleen, 

                                                                                                   President SICAM-mellifera

Loretta Neary

Honorary Secretary
The Native Irish Honey Bee Society



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NIHBS Munster Seminar reminder 7th March

Don’t forget to put 7th March in your Diary

There will be a full day of bee related talks followed by the NIHBS AGM

Full details can be found here


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