This year the BBKA Spring Convention will be a virtual event starting Thurs 15 April at 19.30 running through to Sun 18 April. It costs just £10 for access to the whole event including more than 20 lectures, presentations and live Q&As as well as some more social sessions. 

Register now for Spring Convention 2021

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1 Keynote Address: Tipping Points and Perceptions – Dr David Aston 

Thursday, 15 April 19.35 - 20.30 Sponsor C.B.Dennis Trust 

It is an understatement to say that humankind faces many challenges many of which are of its own creation. Honey bees and humans have had a long relationship and species of the genus Apis, and many other bee species have contributed greatly to human civilisation around the world. The British Isles are no exception to this. Our reliance on pollinators and the particular contribution made by the honey bees should be front and centre in our society’s planning for the future. This short presentation considers several topics and introduces the question as to whether we have reached a series of tipping points in our beekeeping and whether our current practices and perceptions really are fit for purpose and in the best interests of our honey bees. 

Dr David Aston is a Master Beekeeper having kept bees continuously for 40 years in the East Riding Of Yorkshire. He holds the National Diploma in Beekeeping, has been Chairman of the Board and was recently invited to re-join its Executive . He has contributed to the work of the BBKA for many years and has served as Chair of Trustees and is now a Past President. He’s also a Trustee of the CB Dennis British Beekeepers Research Trust. 

Friday 16 April


2S Understanding the evolution of natural varroa tolerance mechanisms in various beekeeping populations - Prof. Stephen Martin 

Friday 16 April 10.30 - 11.15 Live Q&A 12.20 - 13.00 Sponsor Vita Bee Health 

Since the arrival of the varroa mite from Asia, millions of honey bee colonies have died. For decades, beekeepers have continued to control varroa populations by the use of chemicals and other invasive methods. However, throughout Africa and most of South and Central America, mite-infested colonies survive without any form of mite control. This has been linked with poor mite reproduction, although what causes this has remained unknown. Throughout mainland Europe, the USA and in Wales an increasing number of naturally evolved, mite tolerant colonies are being discovered. The talk will discuss the various tolerant mechanisms, and how honey bee populations in Brazil, Africa, the USA and the UK all appear to have evolved similar ways to combat the varroa mite. 

Prof Stephen Martin has studied social insects (bees, wasps, termites and ants) for most of his career. His areas of specialisation are: hornet ecology; pest and diseases of honey bees; and the chemical ecology of ants. He holds a Chair in Social Entomology in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences at the University of Salford, Manchester. Prior to that, he spent 12 years working at the University of Sheffield, seven years with the National Bee Unit, and seven years in Japan, conducting research into hornets. Stephen is best known for his work on the varroa mite and its association with viruses, especially deformed wing virus. 

Prof Martin’s team of researchers at Salford, funded in part by beekeepers, are using the very latest molecular methods to read the genetic code of DWV. The aim is to understand why some honey bee colonies have become naturally tolerant to varroa and to see whether this information can provide beekeepers with a long-term solution to the problem. 

3P European Foul Brood – Epidemiology and Practical Aspects – Colin Pavey 

Friday 16 April 11.30 - 12.15 Live Q&A 12.20 - 13.00 Session Sponsor Bee Disease Insurance 

EFB is one of our two notifiable diseases which despite best efforts over many years, is still a beekeeping ‘problem’. It is highly damaging, can be spread very easily and individual outbreaks of the disease can continue for years. This is a ‘Back to Basics’ presentation explaining the persistence of the disease and the steps that should be employed to control it. 

Colin Pavey joined the NBU in 2012 as a Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) before becoming Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) for the Western Region. He leads a team of SBIs, dealing with AFB, EFB, exotic pest/import surveillance and Asian Hornet incursions,aswellasbeekeepereducation. Colinstartedkeepingbeesin2000and has been Chairman and President of the Herefordshire BKA. He is an assessor for the C&G Award in Bee Health Management and Safe Use of Veterinary Medicines. 

4P From Comb to Candle - Shirley Bond assisted by Richard Bond 

Friday 16 April 13.30 - 14.25 Including Live Q&A Sponsor Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers 

During this demonstration we will show simple methods of cleaning wax to make it suitable for producing candles or foundation. The process will be carried out with the minimum of specialist equipment, wherever possible easily obtained kitchen equipment will be used. Using the prepared wax we will demonstrate how to cast a candle and finish it ready for sale or show. 

Shirley Bond is a Master Beekeeper and a member of the BBKA Exam Board. Shirley and Richard are both involved with teaching beekeeping and associated skills in their local associations and have given workshops around the region. They have kept bees since 2010 and have never traded in any wax. They are passionate about making the most of wax and have won prizes for wax and candles at local, regional and national levels. 

5S Developing markers for breeding bees - Dr Stephen Pernal 

Friday 16 April 14.30 - 15.15 Live Q&A 16.15 - 16.45 

Most economically desirable traits in honey bees show considerable levels of heritability and thus can be improved via artificial selection. Our team has developed a novel approach to marker identification, notably the discovery of proteins in the antennae of nurse bees that are highly correlated with the expression of hygienic behaviour and Varroa Sensitive Hygiene. To evaluate their utility, we tested for the expression of these ‘biomarkers’, and then used these results to select and breed several hundred queens over three generations in Western Canada. Our selected stock was shown to have improved resistance to AFB and varroa, improved wintering and favourable economic performance. We are currently engaged in a large-scale project combining both proteomics and genomics to identify markers for 12 economically important traits, measured in over 1,000 colonies across Canada. Our progress will be reviewed along with implications for improved trait selection in honey bees. 

Dr Stephen Pernal received his MSc and PhD in Entomology from the University of Manitoba and was a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University with Dr Mark Winston. Since 2001, he has been employed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) as a Research Scientist in Beaverlodge, Alberta where he leads Canada’s federal apiculture research program and also serves as Officer-in-Charge of Beaverlodge Research Farm. His work has been diverse, and has included the detection, control and management strategies for AFB, chalkbrood, Nosema ceranae as well as emerging parasites of honey bees. Steve has also been an integral member of three successive Genome Canada projects evaluating markers for resistance to bee diseases and Varroa destructor. He formerly served as President of the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists and is a contributing member to international bodies related to honey bee health. In 2013, he received Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to apiculture as a public servant, and in 2017, was awarded AAFC’s Gold Harvest award for Innovation, Collaboration and Service Excellence. In 2019, he served as the Scientific Program Chair for Apimondia 2019 in Montréal, Canada. 

6S What is left of the Welsh dark bee? Dylan Elen 

Friday 16 April 15.30 - 16.15 Live Q&A 16.15 - 16.45 

During the last century, many honey bee queens of non-native origin were imported into Britain because it was thought these would be ‘better’ than the native dark European honey bee (A. m. mellifera). Beekeepers mainly replaced their original stock with Italian bees (A. m. ligustica). Later on, ‘Buckfast’ bees were produced and also became quite popular, and today Carniolans (A. m. carnica) are also actively imported. Keeping those non-native honey bees, which are not adapted to British environmental conditions, has caused / causes hybridisation and local extinction of the native honey bee, but she is the key to sustainable beekeeping in Britain, because of natural selection. Recently a genetic survey was executed to assess the genetic pollution of Welsh honey bees. 

Dylan Elen has been a beekeeper for ten years now and manages around 50 hives, partly in Wales and partly in his native Belgium. He grabbed the opportunity to turn his passion into his profession, by becoming a honey bee researcher. He is currently doing a PhD at the University of Bangor, where he does research on the conservation genetics of Welsh honey bees and potential varroa resistance behaviour in a North Wales honey bee population. Apart from his activities in Wales, he also is a beekeeping lecturer / demonstrator, and is involved in a Belgian (ZwarteBij.org) and a European (SICAMM) trust for the conservation of the local dark bee (A. m. mellifera). 

Saturday 17th April Channel 1 

7S Pollination syndromes - a bee for every blossom? – Dr Rinke Vinkenoog 

Saturday 17 April 09.30 - 10.15 Live Q&A 12.20 - 13.00 Sponsor Central Association of Beekeepers 

“In the course of evolution, flowers and pollinators have adapted to each other. In some cases this has led to extreme specialisation where one flower can only be pollinated by one species of insect. Most plants and pollinators though are more generalised and keep their options open. There may be “bee- flowers” and “hoverfly-flowers”, but in reality these can often be visited by a range of different insects. This means there will be competition for resources though. How do the different insects compete for the available flowers - or how do they avoid such competition?” 

Dr Rinke Vinkenoog was born and raised in the lowlands around Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he developed his love for the natural world. He studied biology in Amsterdam, and did his PhD at the University of Leiden. In 1998 he moved to Bath, UK to study the genetics of seed development in flowering plants. In 2004 he joined Northumbria University where he lectures on a variety of biological topics. Together with his project students and colleagues at Northumbria, he has among others focussed on the pollination ecology of the invasive plant species Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), and on comparing foraging of honey bees and wild pollinators in urban and rural areas. 

8 Ins and Outs of Pollination - Celia Davis 

Saturday 17 April 10.30 - 11.15 Live Q&A 12.20 - 13.00 

This talk will include the structure and pollination mechanisms of some flowers and the various groups of animals, including bees, that pollinate them. It will also look at the importance of flowers for the pollinating groups and why pollination is such a basic process to the environment as a whole. 

Celia Davis has been fascinated by insects since childhood and has kept bees for 40 years. She is a Master Beekeeper and an NDB holder. She now teaches all levels of beekeeping, as well as tutoring for the BBKA correspondence course. She is the author of two books and is a regular lecturer in the UK and elsewhere. 

9S Melissopalynology: grassing bees up and finding out where they have been - Dr Matthew Pound 

Saturday 17 April 11.30 - 12.15 Live Q&A 12.20 - 13.00 Sponsor C.B.Dennis Trust 

Melissopalynology is the study of pollen in honey. In this talk Dr Pound will provide an overview of the field and present new results from the UK and further afield. He will also present preliminary findings on the role of grass in the foraging options of honey bees. 

Dr Matthew Pound uses pollen analysis to understand contemporary and past environmental change. Most of his previous research has been on vegetation and climate change of the last 70 million years. He joined Northumbria University in 2012 and was employed as a lecturer in 2015. It was in 2015, after a conversation with a beekeeper at a farmers market, that he began to look at pollen in honey. His first publication on melissopalynology (the study of pollen in honey) came out last year on the role of oilseed rape (Brassica napus) in supporting honey production in northeast England. This was co-authored by two Nuffield Foundation students (A-level placement students) and a former Northumbria graduate. 

10P Spring Cleaning the Honey Bee Way - Lynfa Davies 

Saturday 17 April 13.30 - 14.25 Including Live Q&A 

Practical advice will be provided on how to ensure your bees are working on clean, fresh comb. We will discuss the importance of regular comb changes and the impact this has on health and productivity of the colony. We will also look at the conditions and resources that bees need to build comb to enable you to work with your bees and provide the optimum conditions for quick, uniform comb production. There are several different methods for changing comb in the brood nest and I will aim to demonstrate at least one of these methods. 

Lynfa Davies has been keeping bees with her husband Rob for approximately 15 years. She has 20 hives in and around her home near Aberystwyth. She is a Master Beekeeper and in 2019 achieved the NDB qualification. She enjoys sharing information with beekeepers to help them to learn the skills and knowledge that contribute towards successful beekeeping. 

11S How honey bees use genetics to solve their problems and what we can learn from it - Prof Keith Delaplane George Knights Memorial Lecture 

Saturday 17 April 14.30 - 15.15 Live Q&A 16.15 - 16.45 Sponsor BeeCraft 

This lecture will describe the evolutionary history of honey bee polyandry - the queen’s habit of mating with multiple males. Polyandry is thought to improve colony health by increasing in-nest genetic diversity and positive synergies between worker specialist groups at performing tasks. With its emphasis on genetic diversity, polyandry is a marked contrast to human-managed breeding schemes which focus on short-term gains in narrow specialist traits. Professor Delaplane will present new research from his lab that compares and contrasts outcomes from the two approaches. Rather than finding them antagonistic, evidence suggests the two approaches can be integrated to optimise honey bee health. 

Prof Keith Delaplane oversees honey bee research, instruction, and outreach at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, USA. He is a frequent lecturer on behalf of bee science across the English-speaking world. In 2014 he was recognized by HRH Queen Elizabeth II as an honorary Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his research and outreach efforts in the United Kingdom. 

12P Management of Mini Mating Nucs - Marin Anastasov 

Saturday 17 April 15.30 - 16.15 Live Q&A 16.15 - 16.45 

Mini mating nucs are one of the most economical, rewarding and fun methods in providing an environment for the queen cell to emerge and for the virgin queen to mate and lay. However, they come with a number of challenges, which once understood, can be managed to make them the most popular method for queen mating. All aspects of the management of mini mating nucs, including stocking, feeding and queen introduction, will be covered as well as how to maximise the number of queens mated in a season. When managed well, mini mating nucs even provide the required environment to overwinter some spare queens. 

Marin Anastasov started beekeeping in his teens and developed his initial beekeeping whilst studying for a BSc in Animal Science. Later, he completed an MSc in Organic Farming at Aberdeen University. He is passionate about sustainable food production and his entire working career has been in organic food and farming. Marin is a Master Beekeeper and gained his NDB in 2017. He currently manages 30 colonies in Gloucestershire. Marin is Trustee of Gloucestershire BKA and is the Chairman of the BBKA Examinations Board. He is an assessor for the Basic, General Husbandry and Advanced Husbandry certificates and has contributed to the development and running of the General Husbandry and Advanced Husbandry training programmes for the BBKA. Marin is co-author and led the implementation of the BBKA Certificate in Honey Bee Breeding, including providing the training and support to both future candidates and assessors. 

Saturday 17th April Channel 2 

13P Taking the BBKA Basic Assessment - Sean Stephenson 

Saturday 17 April 09.30 - 10.15 Live Q&A 11.15 - 12.00 

The aim of the presentation is to give an insight into the Basic Assessment by following an actual Assessment. It will include an overview of the syllabus and typical questions asked by assessors. Participants will need to have a full season’s beekeeping experience prior to undertaking this Assessment. Last year, one student said “a very useful morning, inspiring confidence both for weekly inspections and the assessment”. 

Sean Stephenson, is a Master Beekeeper and Chairman of Bucks County BKA. He is a member of the BBKA Examinations Board and his experience carrying out 20-30 Basic Assessments a year is highly applicable to this presentation. 

14P BBKA Exam Technique and Module 1 - Margaret Murdin 

Saturday 17 April 10.30 - 11.15 Live Q&A 11.15 – 12.00 

This workshop is suitable for anyone taking any of the BBKA Module exams. and will cover all types of exam techniques and the difficulties usually faced by candidates. Past papers of module 1 will be used throughout but techniques covered will be relevant to all modules. 

Margaret Murdin has been keeping bees for 20 years and is a Master Beekeeper. She has won the prestigious Wax Chandlers Award for the highest marks in the BBKA exams and holds the NDB. Margaret has recently stood down after 8 years as a BBKA Trustee and is a Past President, assistant moderator and examiner. 

15P How to Assemble the Perfect Home for your Bees - Oliver St. John 

Saturday 17 April 14.30 - 15.25 Including Live Q&A 

This is the definitive guide to assembling a National Super - a foolproof method for those wanting to build their own kit. 

Oliver St. John has been keeping bees for ten years in Sussex and is the Education Co-ordinator for East Grinstead Beekeepers. He has run beekeeping courses at Plumpton College for all abilities for the last five years. 

16P ‘Tales from the Honey Isles’ - Chris Park 

Saturday 17 April 15.30 - 16.25 Including Live Q&A 

A mellifluous stroll through some British beekeeping folklore, mythology and archaeology; stopping along the way to inspect traditional beverages, customs, folk medicines, baskets of bees, and related arcana. Warning! There will be a horn full of mead and maybe a song... 

Chris Park resides on an organic farm in the Vale of the White Horse, Wiltshire. He researches beekeeping heritage, folklore and history, teaches skep making and much more. He keeps bees treatment free in different styles of hive from logs and skeps to more conventional hives and a beehive air apitherapy house. Through recent lockdowns he has been working with friends on a bee themed podcast called Living Beeing: www.livingbeeing.com recommended by BBC podcast hour. 

Sunday 18th April 

17P Swarm Control the Natural Way - Jane Medwell 

Sunday 18 April 09.30 - 10.30 Including Live Q&A 

This presentation will review why bees swarm and how we can manage swarming. The aim is to maintain strong, productive colonies by working with the bees natural inclination to reproduce. The focus will be on the key principle of swarm control and how this underpins basic swarm control methods: making a nucleus colony or manipulating an artificial swarm (horizontal or vertical). 

Jane Medwell learnt beekeeping from her mother in the 1970s - then learnt it all over again in the 1990s, when she set up her own apiaries. She is a Master beekeeper, BBKA Examiner, trainer and member of Warwick and Leamington Beekeepers. In her other life, she is an Associate Professor of Education. 

18S Asian hornets: A brief overview and new insights - Dr Peter Kennedy 

Sunday 18 April 10.45 – 11.30 Live Q&A 12.35 - 13.00 Sponsor C.B.Dennis Trust 

The recent appearance of Asian hornets on the UK mainland has highlighted the impressive ability of this alien invasive species to adapt to the European environment and rapidly expand its distribution range. As a predator of a variety of insects, with a preference for bees and other Hymenoptera, its impact on our biodiversity is of huge concern. Recent research suggests that locating nests before these are able to produce sexual offspring is likely to be critical to reducing establishment and the rate of spread of this species, especially at the edge of its invasion front. To improve on the efficiency of finding nests quickly, we explored whether already available tracking technologies can be adapted to be used with hornets to find their nests. 

Dr Peter Kennedy is a Senior Research Fellow in Professor Juliet Osborne’s Pollinator Research Group within the Environment & Sustainability Institute at University of Exeter’s Penryn campus in Cornwall. He has a BSc in Biology from Southampton University and a PhD in Agricultural Ecology from Bristol University. Peter has over 25 years’ experience as a field ecologist studying the behaviour and population dynamics of beneficial insects. His research has involved studying the impact of multiple stressors on honey bee colony development and survival, as well as factors affecting foraging behaviour. Before moving to Cornwall in 2013, Peter 

was based at Rothamsted Research where he worked for 10 years. He is also a beekeeper and has been a seasonal bee inspector. 

19P Know your Enemy: Facing the Asian Hornet Threat Head On - Lynne Ingram 

Sunday 18 April 11.45 - 12.30 Live Q&A 12.35 - 13.00 

Asian Yellow-legged Hornet nests have been found in the UK since 2016. Each year the nests have been found and destroyed before new queens have emerged. Asian Hornets may become much more widespread in the UK in the future, and it is important that everyone knows how to identify them, and where to report Asian Hornet sightings, as well as knowing how best to protect their bees. This presentation will look at the lifecycle and behaviour of the Asian Hornet, and what you need to look for throughout the year. 

Lynne Ingram is a Master beekeeper, who has been keeping bees for over 30 years, and currently manages 20 colonies in three apiaries. Lynne has been involved in tracking hornets in Jersey and is the coordinator for Somerset’s Asian Hornet Action teams. She was a contributor to ‘The Asian Hornet Handbook’ by Sarah Bunker. Lynne is a member of the BBKA Exam Board, assessor for the Basic, Bee Health and General Husbandry assessments, and is involved in setting and marking module exams. 

20P Making Kitchen Cosmetics - Dr Sara Robb 

Sunday 18 April 13.30 - 14.25 Including Live Q&A Sponsor National Honey Show 

Sara Robb will show you how to make cosmetics in your kitchen. Using her rapid no-cure method, she will demonstrate how to make Lemon Poppy Seed Soap - soap that is ready to sell the same day it is made. Beekeepers will also learn to make Calendula & Honey Scrub - a great product for lockdown pampering. Both products can be made with beeswax and honey from your own hive and are ideal for beekeepers to sell at markets with their honey. Sara will discuss what you need to do to sell these products legally in the UK. 

Dr Sara Robb left academic research in 2003, and began making honey soaps and beeswax creams. Sara has been formulating for nearly 20 years. Her recipes are available in books (Dr Sara’s Honey Potions, Beauty & the Bees, Making and Selling Cosmetics: Honeycomb Cleansing Cream) and numerous journal articles (British Beekeeping Journal, BeeCraft, BBKA News, Bees for Development Journal). She has a keen interest in teaching others to formulate cosmetics - running workshops at the BBKA Spring Convention and The National Honey Show. As an independent safety assessor, Sara helps beekeepers sell their own cosmetics by 

providing Cosmetic Product Safety Reports (CPSRs). With Robb’s Quick CPSRs you could be selling cosmetics made with Sara’s proven recipes in a matter of days! 

21S Research needed for better beekeeping development – Dr Nicola Bradbear 

Sunday 18 April 14.30 – 15.30 Including Live Q&A Sponsor C.B.Dennis Trust 

Most of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas; 80% of farmland in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa is managed by smallholders. In Africa alone there are an estimated 41 million smallholders, and many of these people are beekeepers. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of beekeeping development projects that aim to help people move out of poverty by means of beekeeping. What makes a successful project? What outcomes should be measured, and what evidence is needed to claim success? There are many excellent examples of situations where beekeeping has enabled poor people to strengthen their livelihoods. Yet there are also situations where projects set off with unrealistic and exaggerated expectations, and when results are disappointing, they do not review or publish what went wrong. Many beekeeping projects still focus on promoting inappropriate technology, to the benefit of the intermediary organisation rather than the intended beneficiary. This talk will consider the research needed to appreciate the behaviour of tropical bees, and feasible approaches to ensure successful, long term, sustainable, beekeeping development interventions. 

Dr Nicola Bradbear gained a PhD in biochemistry from Durham University. Already a beekeeper, her apicultural career began at the International Bee Research Association, where she worked for ten years from 1983-1993. From 1993 to 1996 Nicola ran the postgraduate apiculture course at Cardiff University. Nicola has articulated the reasons why beekeeping is so important for the rural poor, and since founding Bees for Development in 1993, has gradually developed the organisation’s philosophy and innovative approach. Now in its 27th year, Bees for Development has professional staff working and researching at the forefront of 

beekeeping development, and providing support to beekeepers throughout the developing world. Nicola is President of Apimondia’s Scientific Commission “Beekeeping for Rural Development”, President of Gwent Beekeepers Association, and a Trustee of the C B Dennis British Beekeepers Research Trust.