A panel was convened to discuss the possibility of adopting an all-Ireland approach to beekeeping, with particular reference to the formation of a conservation area for the native dark bee. The panel consisted of Dennis Ryan and Michael G. Gleeson of FIBKA and Norman Walsh and Mervyn Eddie of UBKA and the Ulster Bee Improvement Group, as well as Michael Maunsell and Micheál C. Mac Giolla Coda. The formation of such a conservation area would involve the banning of imports of bees and queens into both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This matter was discussed at a recent meeting between FIBKA and the Department of Agriculture in Dublin, and Michael Gleeson said that the department appeared to be amenable to imposing a ban on imports. However, the formation of an all-Ireland conservation area might best be achieved under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Mervyn and Norman described the problems that had arisen in Northen Ireland due to the recent acceleration of imports of queens from countries such as Greece and Slovenia. Many of those queens were used in the establishment of nuclei, which were widely dispersed, including into the Republic. Subsequently, it was found that the stocks from which the nukes were derived were infected with AFB. It is in all our interests to inform our fellow beekeepers and especially beginners of the inherent dangers in purchasing such stocks. Mervyn was of the opinion that the present Minister of Agriculture in the North, Michelle Gildernew, might be particularly amenable to the formation of an all-Ireland reserve for the native bees of Ireland.
With best wishes for a happy beekeeping year, successful queen rearing, and a bumper crop of honey at the end of it.