LASI at the BBKA Spring Convention
For more than 30 years the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has held a Spring Convention at the National Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Starting out as a small trade fair selling beekeeping equipment and books, it has steadily grown to become the largest one-day public beekeeping convention in the world, with a first rate lecture programme, and workshops and other meetings for association members held concurrently. A victim of its own success, however, it had outgrown its venue, so 2012 saw the first BBKA Spring Convention at a new venue, Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire.
One feature of the new setup was a large area dedicated to poster displays highlighting some of the exciting bee research currently taking place in the UK, and an opportunity for beekeepers to meet the scientists carrying out the work. LASI was represented by posters highlighting our research, in particular the “Sussex Plan for honey bee health and wellbeing”, including the project to breed so-called hygienic bees for disease resistance. Allied to this is the PhD project of Gianluigi Bigio, funded by the BBKA.
With recent news that the dark native honey bee is alive and well in Britain, the LASI breeding programme is particularly relevant, as we are focussing on dark bees. Our workshops last summer aimed at teaching beekeepers the techniques that we are using to assess hygienic behaviour were very well received and are being repeated this year - Hygienic Workshop. We aim to encourage local beekeeping groups to test the honey bees that they already have and breed from the best, rather than relying on bees imported from abroad.