With thanks to the speakers involved, the BBKA will shortly bring you several of the lectures on our YouTube Channel

Lecturers and Lectures

Dr Mark Barnett is a Scottish Expert Beemaster and honey bee research scientist. He has given many public lectures on honey bee research to a growing interest in honey bees amongst the general public and substantial interest in honey bee science amongst beekeepers. In 2019, he was awarded the “Inspiring Public Engagement Activity Award” by the Roslin Institute. He manages the apiary at the Easter Bush Campus of the University of Edinburgh, and is the President of Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers Association (2018-2021). Each year, he teaches on three beekeeping courses for beginners and teaches courses to help beekeepers prepare for the Basic Beekeepers Certificate and the Beekeeping Module exams. He is responsible for the Scottish Beekeepers Association Microscopy Certificate, Intermediate and Advanced Practical exams.

S The use of genetic testing to identify colonies of dark bees in Europe
WLT - Friday 8 April 15.30 - 16.30
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust
There has been a revolution going on in the biological sciences over the last two decades, with unprecedented amounts of DNA sequencing and gene expression data available to researchers. It is now possible to sequence honey bee genomes at relatively low cost and to sequence the gene expression in individual cells. This presentation will summarize key advances and their application in the honey bee, in addition to outlining their potential roles in the study and breeding of our native subspecies, the dark European honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera). Results from an extensive analysis of whole-genome sequence data will be presented, which indicates that Scotland may be a favourable environment for the conservation of the dark honey bee.

Beebytes Analytics CIC - genetic testing of honey bees for British and Irish beekeepers
WLT - Saturday 9 April 15.30 - 16.30
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust
Expert Beekeeper and honey bee research scientist, Dr Mark Barnett (Roslin Institute), Expert Beekeeper and information scientist Matthew Richardson (University of Edinburgh) and population geneticist and bioinformatician Dr David Wragg (Roslin Institute) have recently formed a Community Interest Company to provide genetic testing of honey bees for beekeepers. Based at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Innovation Centre, the company will initially be providing genetic services testing for introgression of C-lineage in M-lineage honey bees (analysis of the amount of DNA from Carniolan and Italian honey bees present in dark European honey bees). Mark will summarize honey bee research at the Roslin Institute that has led to the setting up of Beebytes, will talk about the setting up and function of the Company and will discuss plans for future research and development which is hoped will translate into services to support British and Irish beekeepers.

Norman Carreck NDB has been keeping bees for more than forty years, and has been a bee research scientist for thirty. He has lectured about bees on all continents where bees are kept, has written many scientific papers, book chapters, conference contributions and popular articles, has edited several books and regularly appeared in the media in many countries. He is a director of Carreck Consultancy Ltd and Bee Publishing Ltd and is based at the University of Sussex, UK.

I  Citizen science for beekeepers - the INSIGNIA project
RFA - Friday 8 April 10.00 - 11.00
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust

Honey bee colonies are excellent bio-samplers of biological material such as nectar, pollen and plant pathogens, as well as non-biological material such as pesticides or airborne contamination. All material collected is concentrated in the hive, and the honey bee colony can provide four main matrices for environmental monitoring: bees, honey, pollen and wax. The purpose of the INSIGNIA project was to design and test a scientifically proven citizen science environmental monitoring protocol for the detection of pesticides via honey bees. It was a pilot project funded by the EU, and was carried out by a consortium of scientists from twelve countries. Pollen collected in pollen traps was sampled every two weeks to record foraging conditions on a single day, and bee bread was collected to provide a record of a few days. In contrast, wax acts as a passive sampler, building up an archive of pesticides, so alternative in-hive passive samplers were tested to replicate wax as a “pesticide-sponge”. Samples were analysed for the presence of pesticides and the botanical origin of the pollen using a DNA fingerprinting approach. The system was tested in four countries in 2019 and was then expanded to nine countries in 2020. Data on pollen and pesticides are then being combined to model the exposure risks to honey bees and wild bees.

Prof. Lars Chittka studied Biology in Berlin and completed his PhD studies under the supervision of Randolf Menzel in 1993. An Adjunct Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University, USA until 1997, he then became an Assistant Professor at Würzburg University, Germany, where he completed his habilitation in 2000. He is now a full professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he founded a new Research Centre for Psychology in 2008 and was its scientific director until 2012. He has carried out extensive work on the behaviour, cognition and ecology of bumble bees and honey bees, and their interactions with flowers. His discoveries have made a substantial impact on the understanding of animal intelligence and its neural-computational underpinnings. He has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles, has been an editor of biology’s leading open access journal PLoS Biology since 2004. He is an elected Member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), a Fellow of the Linnean Society and Royal Entomological Society, as well as the Royal Society of Biology.

S The social intelligence of bees
The George Knights Memorial Lecture - Sponsored by BeeCraft

WLT - Saturday 9 April 14.00 - 15.00
The social brain hypothesis holds that the cognitive demands that come with living in societies have shaped brain evolution, and that social group size might in turn be linked to brain size. This hypothesis is controversial even within the primate world, but more complications arise when one inspects the social insects. Ants, bees and wasps build cohesive societies with small brains and 10s of thousands to millions of individuals. Just like in humans, these societies are not (only) held together by individual recognition, but by learnt cues that indicate the location of society, and the place of the individual within it. However, it would be incorrect to view social insects as anonymous societies, since individual recognition determines dominance hierarchies in several species. The facial recognition of some social wasp species is one example, and indeed some insects can assemble configural representations of facial cues, and identify faces even when rotated. There are also various forms of social learning in the insects, where insects learn from one another where and how to forage, or where to expect danger. A unique process of social information processing is observed in honey bee swarms, where a democratic decision making process takes place to find a new home for the swarm.

S The mind of a bee
WLT - Sunday 10 April 13.30 - 14.30
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust

Bees have a diverse instinctual repertoire that exceeds in complexity that of most vertebrates. This repertoire allows the social organisation of such feats as the construction of precisely hexagonal honey combs, an exact climate control system inside their home, the provision of the hive with commodities that must be harvested over a large territory (nectar, pollen, resin, and water), as well as a symbolic communication system that allows them to inform hive members about the location of these commodities. However, the richness of bees’ instincts has traditionally been contrasted with the notion that bees’ small brains allow little behavioural flexibility and learning behaviour. This view has been entirely overturned in recent years, when it was discovered that bees display abilities such as counting, attention, simple tool use, learning by observation and metacognition (knowing their own knowledge). Thus, some scholars now discuss the possibility of consciousness-like phenomena in the bees. These observations raise the obvious question of how such capacities may be implemented at a neuronal level in the miniature brains of insects. We need to understand the neural circuits, not just the size of brain regions, which underlie these feats. Neural network analyses show that cognitive features found in insects, such as numerosity, attention and categorisation-like processes, may require only very limited neuron numbers. Using computational models of the bees’ visual system, we explore whether seemingly advanced cognitive capacities might ‘pop out’ of the properties of relatively basic neural processes in the insect brain’s visual processing area, and their connection with the mushroom bodies, higher order learning centres in the brains of insects.

Lynfa Davies NDB has been keeping bees with her husband Rob for approximately 16 years. She has 30 hives in and around her home near Aberystwyth. She is a Master Beekeeper and in 2019 achieved the National Diploma in Beekeeping qualification. She enjoys sharing information with beekeepers to help them to learn the skills and knowledge that contribute towards successful beekeeping.

A Honey Bee Nutrition - Lynfa Davies
RFA - Friday 8 April 11.30 - 12.30
Just like us, honey bees need a healthy, nutritious diet. But what does that mean? Nutrition underpins the health and productivity of the colony, and we will explore the different needs of the bees throughout the year and how this places different nutritional demands on the colony. We will explore some of the popular plants that bees forage from and whether these plants are able to satisfy the bees’ requirements. Finally, there are several situations when you might need to feed your bees so we will look at what we can use and how to provide it.

Celia Davis NDB began beekeeping in 1980 and for many years managed 14 hives but has now reduced to two in the garden. She has a degree in agriculture, was a biology teacher and lecturer and gained her NDB in 1994. She has taught beekeeping since 1992 to a range of students from Basic level up to Advanced, served for six years on the BBKA Examinations Board in the 1990’s, has been a tutor on the BBKA Correspondence Course for many years and has been an examiner at all levels up to, and including, NDB. She lectures to many beekeeping groups throughout the UK, and further afield. Celia has written many articles for various publications over the years and has authored two books: The Honey Bee Inside Out and The Honey Bee Around and About.

A In Self-defence
WLT Saturday 9 April 11.30 - 12.30

Sponsored by Bee Diseases Insurance Ltd
This is an account of the many ways that bees protect themselves naturally, both as a colony and as individuals, from diseases that may affect them. The second part of the talk details how beekeeping practices impact on this and may either help or, in many cases, hinder these natural defences

Lynne Ingram NDB has kept bees for over 30 years, and runs 25 – 30 colonies in Somerset. She is a Master Beekeeper, has recently gained the National Diploma in Beekeeping, and is an examiner for the BBKA modules and practical assessments. Lynne is heavily involved in educating beekeepers in Somerset, now running study groups via Zoom, and curating the popular Somerset Lockdown Lecture series. She is the chair of the Honey Authentic Network (HAN UK).

A The Truth about Honey? – Honey adulteration and fraud
RFA Saturday 9 April 11.30 - 12.30
Honey is a pure and natural product with health giving properties, however there is a growing issue worldwide with honey adulteration. This means that honey fraud is now the 3rd biggest food fraud in the world. This talk lifts the lid on the how, why and wherefore of honey fraud and the way that it impacts on the livelihoods of beekeepers around the world.

Dr 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 Chair of Warwick and Leamington Beekeepers.

A Working with your Bees for Swarm Control
RFA - Friday 8 April 15.30 - 16.30
Swarm control is the biggest challenge for the novice beekeeper. This lecture will address the reasons why bees swarm and what you should expect to see. We will look at methods of swarm control for different circumstances and examine how these processes can keep your apiary producing honey.

Joyce Nisbet started beekeeping more than 30 years ago. Since retiring, chairing the BBKA Spring Convention Committee has taken a considerable amount of her time. Nevertheless, Joyce enjoys beekeeping otherwise; supporting others learning about bees, plus entering and judging honey shows. She is a Master Beekeeper, a BBKA Show Judge and a BBKA Trustee. She also edits North Shropshire BKA’s Newsletter.

A Beeswax Creations
TBL - Saturday 9 April 11.30 - 12.30
Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers
Showing honey and wax products, initially at Shrewsbury Show and then at the National Honey Show in London, has been one of Joyce’s pleasures. The ambition to enter display classes led to her developing her wax-working skills. During this presentation, Joyce will aim to pass on some of the techniques that contribute to the production of high quality candles and eye-catching beeswax flowers, models and displays.

A Cut comb, Chunk Honey and Sections
WLT Sunday 10 April 11.30 - 12.30
The ambition to enter a wider range of honey show classes was the impetus to Joyce expanding her beekeeping skills, producing cut comb, chunk honey and sections. During this presentation, Joyce will aim to pass on some of the techniques that have helped her to encourage her bees to produce high quality comb honey, both to exhibit and for sale.

Prof. Juliet Osborne is an applied ecologist who has been studying the ecology of pollinators and pollination for 30 years. The primary aims of the research are to protect and conserve pollinator populations, whilst maintaining crop and wild flower pollination services. She led bee research at Rothamsted Research for 18 years and moved to the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the University of Exeter (Cornwall campus) in 2012. In 2017 she became Director of the ESI for 3 years, focussing on championing interdisciplinary research into environmental challenges. Juliet’s research has used a combination of novel technology, field experiments and models to predict the effects of changing threats on bee survival and subsequent pollination. Her team were the first to use harmonic radar to track individual bees in flight, and radio-telemetry to track individual flying Asian hornets, Vespa velutina, to find their nests. Juliet’s team is also known for developing computer models of honey bee colonies and bumble bee populations: the BEEHAVE models. In the last three years, her group has also started exploring the relationship between humans and pollinators. This body of research provides a useful evidence base for land managers and policy makers to help ensure pollinators, and pollination, can flourish in our farmed landscape.

A Cornwall: Changing the scene for pollinators and people
RFA - Friday 8 April 14.00 - 15.00
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust
Juliet will describe her team’s work in Cornwall to put pollinator conservation into practice, and to change the landscape from a green desert to one with bountiful nectar and pollen resources. Underpinned by research on road verges, urban green spaces and wild flower meadows, this involves real partnership work with the farmers, estate owners, Cornwall Council, road managers and conservation bodies across the length and breadth of the county. Juliet will argue that the changes not only benefit pollinators and other wildlife, but are also positive for the people and businesses of Cornwall.

I  What motivates beekeepers to do what they do, and what motivates people to take action to conserve pollinators
WLT - Saturday 9 April 10.00 - 11.00
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust
People’s awareness of bees and the importance of pollination has changed dramatically over the last thirty years. Bees are currently the ‘poster-child’ of many advertising campaigns, promoting products and companies as well as being a flagship group to encourage conservation practice. There are likely to be a multitude of reasons behind why people take action to conserve pollinators, and why people take up beekeeping. This talk takes a preliminary look at the motivations behind our “care” for bees. Firstly, Juliet will present the results of a public survey to understand why and how the general public engages with pollinators and takes action to conserve them. Secondly, she will present a study investigating the motivations behind why beekeepers do what they do. It explores the richness and diversity of beekeeping styles in the South West UK. This leads to some closing thoughts on what is meant by “sustainable beekeeping”, which probably differs between beekeepers, and what else we can do to promote actions that support pollinator populations more generally

Chris Park lives on an organic farm in the Vale of the White Horse. His work ranges from arts and crafts, ancient technologies, experimental archaeology, music, storytelling and therapy. He works with schools, wildlife trusts, local authorities, mental health projects, special interest groups, communities and families. He researches beekeeping heritage, folklore and history, teaches skep making and lectures to beekeeping associations. Chris keeps bees in many different types of hives and his approach is an ethical and ecological one e.g. never using chemicals, not feeding sugar, and allowing swarming. During the recent pandemic Chris has been working on a bee themed podcast Living Beeing with friends.

A Beekeeping Through the Ages
RFA - Saturday 10.00 - 11.00
Honeybees have a mellifluous and mysterious history woven through ours. From the dawn of time they have been a source of sustenance, health and fertility, as well as rich symbolism, creation myths, cultural inspirations and more. Besides us, countless other creatures have benefited from their produce and pollination. Throughout the ages, whilst supping upon the salubrious honeyed brews that have provoked great insight, prophecy, progress, knowledge and research we have learnt to keep bees in many different ways. Let us take a short, sweet tour through a selection of the differing cultures, changing practices, systems of management and styles of hive, up to the present diversity of today, pondering what might occur next.

Julian Parker is Head of the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Bee Unit (NBU). The NBU delivers the Bee Health programmes on behalf of Defra and Welsh Government in England and Wales. His first experiences of beekeeping came from his grandfather in the 1970s, with particular memories of extracting honey and trips to Lees of Uxbridge for equipment. He is now a beekeeper in the Chilterns and a member of Mid-Bucks Beekeepers. Julian joined the NBU in 2009 as a bee inspector and has since that time undertaken the role of Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) managing the South Eastern region, then later moving to Southern Region RBI before taking on the role of National Bee Inspector in 2016. In 2019 he moved to his current position as Head of the National Bee Unit. Julian maintains a personal interest in self-sufficiency within beekeeping, raising his own locally adapted queens and making his own wax foundation.

A Defra and the Welsh Government’s Healthy Bees Plan 2030
WLT - Friday 8 April 14.00 - 15.00 
Defra and the Welsh Government have published the Healthy Bees Plan 2030, their policy document for the next ten years, along with its Implementation Plan detailing how stakeholders will work together to improve honey bee health and husbandry in England and Wales. This new plan builds upon the original Healthy Bees Plan published in 2009. The plan focusses on achieving four key outcomes: 1. Effective biosecurity and good standards of husbandry, to minimise pest and disease risks and so improve the sustainability of honey bee populations; 2. Enhanced skills and production capability/ capacity of beekeepers and bee farmers; 3. Sound science and evidence underpinning the actions taken to support bee health. 4. Increased opportunities for knowledge exchange and partnership working on bee health and wider pollinator needs. This talk will discuss the Plan, its implementation and the role of stakeholders and the NBU in delivering the first three years of the plan.

Dr Tom Pope is a Reader in Entomology and Integrated Pest Management at Harper Adams University. His research is focused on development of sustainable pest management tools, including improved monitoring of crop pests and use of alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides. Ongoing research includes investigating the potential of biopesticides for the control of the cabbage stem flea beetle and development of a trap cropping system for the management of barley yellow dwarf virus vectors. Dr Pope is a member of the Insecticide Resistance Action Group (IRAG) and the British Crop Protection Council Pests and Beneficials Working Group.

A Crop Protection in Cereal and Oilseed Rape Crops Following the Withdrawal of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments
TBL - Saturday 9 April 14.00 - 15.00
This lecture will describe how crop protection in cereal and oilseed rape crops has changed following the withdrawal of neonicotinoid seed treatments, and consider some of the chemical and non-chemical responses that have been adopted or that are currently being developed.

Dr Joe Roberts FRES is a lecturer in Entomology and Integrated Pest Management at Harper Adams University. He has extensive skills and experience relating to entomology, crop protection and chemical ecology research at both the lab and field scale. He has had a number of papers published covering these areas of research.

A Agriculture Beyond Synthetic Pesticides
WLT - Friday 8 April 11.30 - 12.30
This lecture will explore how humans can sustainably increase food production while mitigating negative environmental impacts.

Nigel Semmence started beekeeping whilst he was a teenager in Norfolk learning from his uncle and grandfather who were both bee farmers. After university, he worked in scientific sales before joining the Oxford Bee Company where he enjoyed three years on pollination projects with solitary bees and commuted between the UK and California. In 2009 Nigel joined the National Bee Unit (NBU) as Regional Bee Inspector (RBI) for Southern region running a team of seven Seasonal Bee Inspectors (SBIs). In 2015 Nigel became the Contingency Planning and Science Officer for the NBU, with responsibility for developing contingency plans for exotic pests and diseases of honey bees such as the Asian hornet, small hive beetle and Tropilaelaps mites. This was just in time for the first Asian hornet incursion in 2016, and the NBU has learnt much since then on how to deal with Asian hornets, as well as how to run contingency responses.

I  The yellow legged Asian hornet 
TBL - Saturday 9 April 10.00 - 11.00
The yellow legged Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, continues its spread across Europe, and Nigel will bring us up to date with the current situation. The talk will include a focus on the support beekeepers can give, along with details of the UK incursions last year. In addition, the overarching contingency plan and some of the lessons identified will be discussed in this lecture.

Pete Sutcliffe keeps an average of 20 colonies on various sites in the Dane Valley in Cheshire. Pete is a BBKA Correspondence Course Tutor, a Basic and General Husbandry Assessor, and he has set and marked Module examinations. Having edited the Cheshire Beekeeper magazine for several years, he is presently Chair and Education Secretary of the Cheshire Beekeepers’ Association. Before lockdown he headed a beebreeding group in his locality.

B Breeding Out Bad Traits
TBL - Saturday 9 April 15.30 - 16.30
Early beekeeping tended to favour swarmy bees, but we do not do much better nowadays, even with all the knowledge and equipment at our disposal. We also hear frequent complaints about bad-tempered bees, and this causes particular difficulties for beginner-beekeepers. Small-scale beekeepers are desperate for queens and will accept anything going, it seems. It doesn’t have to be this way! Pete will outline some relatively simple methods of improving your bees.

Jo Widdicombe has been keeping bees for more than thirty years and worked as a bee inspector for five years. He currently runs more than 150 colonies, with two assistants, for the production of queens, nucs and honey. He is author of the book, “The principles of bee improvement” which explains how to select and improve the quality of our bees from local stock, with an emphasis on our native strain, rather than imported queens. He was President of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association for five years and is a strong supporter of the National Bee Improvement Programme (NatBIP) which he believes is relevant to all beekeepers as a means of improving the quality of our bees in a sustainable way.

I  The National Bee Improvement Programme
WLT - Friday 8 April 10.00 - 11.00
Sponsored by The Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association
Jo will explain how the idea for a National Bee Improvement Programme came about, and how the programme is relevant to all beekeepers. The Programme aims to reduce imports, and therefore biosecurity risks, whilst at the same time improving the quality of our bees. The demand for imports can only be reduced if there is a good alternative in place. A sustainable system of bee improvement is essential if we are to move away from the endless imports, which continue to hybridise our local populations. The mixing of various sub-species, together with the multiple mating of queens, results in the unreliable quality of our bee populations. Our mixed bee populations make selection and improvement difficult, thus stoking further demand for imports. The choice is whether to carry on in the same manner for another 150 years, or make the decision to switch to a more sustainable system, where quality can be improved or maintained.

I  Commercial beekeeping with dark bees
RFA - Saturday 9 April 14.00 - 15.00
Jo will outline why we should move from the current system of relying on imported stock to provide the quick fix for big honey yields, to a system where we develop the quality of our bees through a sustainable system of bee improvement. Biosecurity risks can be reduced, whilst the quality and local adaptation of our bees can be improved. The aim should be to build a sustainable system that provides an economic return, whilst not gambling with the future well-being of our honey bees. Can we develop a strain of bee with the qualities that we want that can be sustained over the generations? Just as agriculture is looking for more sustainable food production methods, beekeepers need to be thinking along the same lines, and looking for the opportunities that this will bring

Prof. Geraldine A Wright studied botany at the University of Wyoming, USA and received a DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford in 1998. She was at Newcastle University for 13 years in the School of Biology and the Institute of Neuroscience. She is now the Hope Professor of Zoology (Entomology) at the University of Oxford. Her lab studies how bees detect, learn about, and regulate their intake of nutrients and secondary metabolites. Her lab has identified that secondary metabolites such as caffeine found in floral nectar and pollen enhance the learning and memory performance of honey bees. Her lab also identified that neonicotinoid pesticides make food more attractive to bees at field relevant concentrations. She was a recipient of UK Insect Pollinators Initiative funding which started her lab’s work on bee nutrition. This research has led to a university spin out company that is now creating pollen substitutes for honeybees.



S Mechanisms of the regulation of micro and macronutrients in the honey bee
RFA - Saturday 9 April 15.30 - 16.30
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust
Essential nutrients are critical to the fitness and survival of animals. Jeri’s lab has studied how bees make feeding decisions that optimize their ability to acquire the right balance of nutrients. In this talk, she will discuss recent research from her laboratory that expands what we know about the nutrition of bees with respect to their needs for protein, fats, carbohydrates and micronutrients (i.e. minerals). She will relate this to recent studies of the nutritional content of pollen and bee bread, and discuss how you can improve the nutritional state of your colonies through better feeding.

I  The bee’s sense of taste
WLT - Sunday 10 April 10.00 - 11.00
Sponsored by The C.B. Dennis Trust
The sense of taste facilitates animals to make rapid decisions about food nutritional value. Previous studies in Drosophila and mammals support a model of gustatory processing which allows compounds from different taste modalities (bitter vs. sweet) to be distinguished, but not compounds within a modality (e.g. two sweet sugars). Experiments from Jeri’s lab show that bumble bees can discriminate among sugar compounds, indicating that they have a refined sense of sweet taste. However, they cannot detect bitter compounds like pesticides. Lab members have recorded from the neurons on the mouthparts of bumble bees and honey bees, and found that bees have a special mechanism for the detection of sugars that involves a temporal code hitherto unseen in insects. They also find no evidence that bees can detect common neonicotinoids present in the floral nectar of plants such as oilseed rape. Jeri will discuss the relevance of this research to what we know about what all bees taste, and the kinds of compounds found in floral nectar.