The 1st of June, the day of the bee improvement and queen rearing workshop at the Coolmore Bees headquarters started off as miserable and wet. Fortunately, the break in the weather that usually accompanies the NIHBS workshops occurred just as we reached the parking lot. Mark Newenham and his dedicated team (to be read family) had set up the workstations by the time we arrived. We thought we will have an easy job looking after the few attendees…until all of a sudden, a crowd of 33 enthusiastic beekeepers assembled in the parking lot.
The NIHBS Chairman, Pat Deasy welcomed everybody, we split the attendees in mini-groups and sent them off to the workstations. The colony assessment workstation was led by two of the top trainers, Liam Rice and Michael Maunsell, who presented the NIHBS colony-assessment criteria and rated the demonstration hive.
P. J. Curran and I demonstrated larval grafting, detailing on the optimum age of larvae, wet vs dry grafting and guided the participants as they were doing the grafting by themselves.
Queen incubation, queen marking and drone management were outlined by trainer Eleanor Attridge, using a massive incubator Mark had prepared for the day. The beekeepers were then directed to avail of Pat Deasy’s expertise in setting up and managing Apideas. Nucleus hive management was also included in the programme, with Helena Newenham expertly demonstrating how to set up, inspect and troubleshoot nucs. By the time the beekeepers went through all the workstations, it was time for a break, so Una Newenham invited us all for a cuppa. After the break, we were all in for a surprise, as the host, Mark Newenham showed us around his apiary. This provided everybody with an invaluable insight into commercial beekeeping and industrial-scale queen-rearing. We were all captivated by the magnitude of the operation and by how Mark and the team came up with ingenious ways to maximise efficiency, such as insertion of frames of grafted larvae without disturbing the hive, construction of low-cost, DIY, summer nucs and maintenance of season-long queenless queen-rearing hives. At the end, I demonstrated the Varroa mite count using the sugar shake.
To everybody’s surprise, no mites fell out of a swarm from a colony that had not been treated for 3 years…so keep on testing, THERE IS HOPE!!!
Dr. Stefan Gabriel Buzoianu, PhD, Dr. Vet. Med.