Guest Post by Education Officer, Cilla Platt


Many of the 150+ delegates at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 BIBBA Conference

The success of the “Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Conference”, was outstanding.

More than twenty speakers came together on the Island at the end of September and treated 150 plus delegates to three packed days of truly fascinating talks.

Many Island beekeepers alongside delegates from  Europe, the UK and America, availed themselves of the influx of beekeeping specialists.


Visiting Californian bee farmer, Randy Oliver, just before returning to the USA

Several talks were given by American bee farmer Randy Oliver, who runs 1,500 colonies of honey bees.  Not only does he do his own practical research, but he spends time reading scientific papers with a very sharp eye to impracticality.  He makes his thoughts widely known and cuts the cackle, making hobbyist beekeepers sit up and question long held ideas.

He is an extremely interesting speaker, and much in demand all over the world.  He left us all feeling exhausted by his energy.


Robert Munn, Clive de Bruyn and IOM Beekeepers President Harry Owens, all delegates at the 1973 and the 2016 BIBBA Conferences

Bee farming in the UK was also represented by Tony Maggs and by Clive de Bruyn, the latter having been a delegate at the first BIBBA conference on the island in 1973.  Clive was able to talk over that occasion with our own Harry Owens – President and Bee Diseases Officer here on the Island – who also attended, and helped to run that conference – and with delegate Robert Munn, another 1973 visitor.

Genetics of honey bees were beautifully explained so that all could understand, by Margaret Murden ex Head Teacher, Master Beekeeper and Chairman of the British Beekeepers Asociation.

We learned of Eco types of hive for bees. Also electronic monitoring of bees and what the scientists learned from it.

Dorian Pritchard spoke eloquently about the male honey bee, the Drone, and the important role he plays in the colony.

Margaret Murden also told us about how important the genetics of the Queen Honey Bee are to the continued quality of our bees.

We had several extremely erudite speakers on breeding queens, and the pros and cons of selecting for our old native black strain of honey bee.

The whole conference was greatly enhanced by being held in the beautiful Villa Marina, which along with some wonderful clear sunny weather captivated many visitors.

Lunches and the dinner were wonderfully catered for by local caterers, and handy local hotels provided excellent accommodation.

We were so lucky to have our ex Minister of DEFA Richard Ronan open the conference with the help of Harry Owens, and convenor, Roger Patterson,  who had worked tirelessly to organise the conference.

8 school children involved in beekeeping also were involved in the opening ceremony, dressed in a rainbow of bee protection gear.


IOMBeekeepers Ed Officer, Cilla Platt, discussing beekeeping education with American visitors Tom Sotiridy and Mike Barton together with Conference Convenor, Roger Patterson

Our new governor Sir Richard Gozney and his wife Lady Diana graced the top table at the dinner given for the delegates in the middle of the conference.

The three days seemed to fly by leaving us with wonderful new contacts in the beekeeping fraternity, and a lot of new thoughts on how to improve our beekeeping here on the Isle of Man.


Al fresco lunch with some of our new friends from the BIBBA Conference before they departed the Isle of Man


2 Responses to Success of the Beekeeping Conference

  1. Janet Thompson says:

    It was a great conference with an inspiring line up of speakers, many thanks to all the organisers.

  2. Sounds like a great conference with lots of good content. I didn’t have time to attend on this occasion but I am definitely there next year.

    Tony McNamara

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