Thursday, October 9, 2008

IOANNINA Greek Bred Queen Bees 2021 SEASON

The family who produce the queen bees, from left
Jim ,Panagiotis Skarleas,Labrini Skarlea (child, Margarita-Maria Skarlea) John , Margarita , Maria Iskou,Zacharias

The city of Ioannina (pronounced yo-an-inaa) population 100,000 at 500m altitude, built on the bank of Lake Pamvotis, with the Pindos mountains in the background.

The bee centre is located close to the village of Katsikas 8km from the city of Ioannina

Along with queen bees the centre also produces royal jelly, honey, pollen, and propolis.

Artificial insemination equipment in the bee lab which is also used for monitoring bee health.

Inside the Bee House with 317 permanently accommodated hives, for grafting, cell raising & finishing, incubation, drone, and royal jelly production.

The queens are freely mated from some 2000 mini nucs placed in fields surrounding the main bee house.

Strong 5 frame mini nuclei with polythene between frames and lid.

Cages of different races are organized and recorded before placed in boxes.

Here is a batch of the smaller traveling boxes (up to 50 queens)the larger taking 100 queen bees. The bees stay quieter in the darkness of the box which has damp sponge placed inside for humidity.

Traveling boxes are placed in shaded ventilated bags that are sent in the cool of the evening to Athens airport.

EST   1991

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Queen Availability




The dates to the left indicate the start of the week when the Queens are sent out from the Greek bee breeding station to the UK.
Following that is the number of Queens that are still available for ordering.
Dates and numbers may be added during the season. The quantities are only approximations and can change by the day during the season as events change, rationing, weather conditions, change of orders and cancellations, non-payment, etc. It is best to check the main web site as immediately any information is received from Greece it will be posted.
Do not makeup nucs or de-queen until notice is seen that Queens have been *mailed to
beekeepers in the UK. If rationing is mentioned you may not receive any Queens. For safety keep any frames of young bees and brood over a queen excluder ( but queen right) until the Queen is with you.

.* Note as of the end of May 2020 the mobile site will no longer be operational due to
the web host provider closing for business.

Demand is heavy in the Spring. An ideal time for using Queens is after the honey flow which
allows plenty of young bees to go into winter and a flying start the next season with no
delay. That Queen will still be good for at least two full seasons.
The Queens should be with the beekeeper 24 to 48 hours after they have been mailed from
The UK. Follow the UPS or DHL tracking number provided for a live confirmation of the shipment.

Payment can be sent by cheque or on request with PayPal or Bank Transfer. An E-Mail payment request invoice is sent which directs purchasers of Queen bees- Cage-Vaporizer-Nucs- CD & DVDs to the site which accepts online transactions in many forms. You do not have to be a PayPal member. If special guaranteed next day delivery is required for Queens, then £6.54 should be added to the cost. An E-Mail with the tracker number can be sent.
On request a PayPal payment email for between 1 to 2 queen bees can be sent (£1.00 per queen charge ), to allow online payment. Larger numbers of queen bees require cheque payment to avoid PayPal charges or, on request, Bank Transfer ( Act No and  Sort Code will be sent to you) so saving on PayPal charges. Queen bees will only be posted once payment has been received.

QUEENS Available
* BuckfastxCecropia* Apis mellifera Ligustica* Apis mellifera Carnica* Apis mellifera Caucasia* Apis mellifera Cecropia* Apis mellifera Macedonica * Apis mellifera Mellifera

2022    Prices and Availability*
* Queens can only be sent within Great Britain.
* Prices now include the additional costs of importing from the EU.

    April 11th                     33             
    April  18th                   41          
    April  25th                   46
   May   2nd                    75                      
   May   9th                     80                   
   May   16th                  80   
   May 23rd                       80 
  May 30th                     80             
   June    6th                    60   
   June 13th                     60  
  June   27th                  60   
 July 18th                    60   
August  1st                 40                                                                                      

            1-9             £39.95                                                      

         10-19            £39.45        

          20-49           £38.95 

         50-99            £38.45

        100+              £34.95       

All prices inc P&P and Marking Yellow and EU import costs
Last updated  Saturday,  August 28th, 2021
 Overwintered Nucleus 2022

Headed by a July 2021 mated BuckfastxCecropia queen.
Sent with ParcelForce in a correx box.
Depending on weather and build up - available from late March onwards.

4 National frames bees & brood  £185  inc P&P
3 National frames bees & brood  £165  inc P&P

 7 available to reseve as at 28/08/2021.

TO ORDER or reserve Queens and Nucs
Use the Order Form
at the top left of the page - with your details listed below.

Or simply COPY and PASTE the list below
adding your details.

* Your Name

* Full Address & Postcode To Send To

*  Preferred Date (s)

*  Phone Number

*  Preferred Races & Numbers
-  BuckfastxCecropia
-  Ligustica
-  Mellifera
-  Carnica
-  Caucasica
-  Cecropia
-  Macedonica

*  Indicate Preferred Payment Method
  - Credit Card / Debit Card - Using PayPal  - you do not
                          need to be a PayPal member to use.
Bank Transfer -
          Sort Code                  05-00-05
         Account Number       04602972 
         Account Name    JAMES CONNELL T/A  BICKERSTAFFS
Can be used with Credit & Debit cards- a payment link will be emailed.
Postal Order
Cash On Collection

*  Any Special Instructions

76 Buckingham Road
L31 7DP

Tel:  0151 5264532 

If a race other than the BuckfastxCecropia cross is required please order at least ten days
Should the weather be poor when the packet arrives simply place the cage in a dark place at
room temperature 60-70f day and night Do not spray them or allow the bees to become wet,
only give a small smear of water from the fingertips if the weather is hot? Replace candy if
need be and tease out any dead attendants through the hinged side hole. In an emergency add
your own YOUNG NURSE bees(tending open brood)to care for the queen.
On introduction, the traveling cage can be used but your own Butler cage/ hair roller/mini
nuc/ BICKERSTAFFE cage etc is better. Remove ALL attendant workers- introduce to young bees
if possible. If no honey is coming in...feed.
Wasps are a great danger to a mild tempered bee. Place traps off fermenting fruit out from
early July on and put entrance blocks in before the flow is over. If you suspect robbing move
the hive to a shady spot and keep bees confined for a week during the introduction.
Varroa, Acarine & Nosema are endemic - control. 
Leave at least a week if you check for acceptance, which should be at dusk, and use a sugar
spray on the bees (rather than smoke) taking care she is not balled. If all is well leave the bees alone until the queen is surrounded by her own progeny. Disturbing too soon after the introduction can leave to balling of the queen or supersedure.
You can send an e-mail with the dates you wish if the numbers on the left-hand side
indicate available Queens, or use the phone, post or order form link on the left-hand side.
By post simply make cheque payment to BICKERSTAFFS along with any special delivery
instructions required dates, numbers, and race of Queens.


Multimedia CD ROM set

Multimedia CD ROM set on beekeeping

Six titles are currently all available as a free download.





*Click on the WINTER INTO SPRING above to download a free copy as a zipped file.
Once unzipped either copy all files and folders to the root of a CD ROM(ie. do not burn the files & folders inside a folder-this will then allow autorun) or leave on a hard drive and double click on the- Cp icon-Winter into Spring- to launch it. This multimedia title, unlike the others, uses your browser settings for navigation so do not block if firewalled.  
As with all the titles, they will run faster by unzipping them to a folder directly on the hard drive and then double-clicking on the.EXE file

* Same for the QUIZZING the BEEKEEPER - if running from hard drive double click on the QUIZZING icon.If burnt to a CD be patient for two minutes while it loads when running from a CD ROM. To speed navigation-use toolbar to browse at `fit to page` and only `fit width` to read bee books.
ADOBE READER can also be used by navigating to the pdf folder. This is hosted on GOOGLE DRIVE.
*Same for the ABOVE THE CLOUDS TO EPIRUS -double click on the BICKERSTAFFES2 icon if running from the hard drive.
*Same for THE EVER PRESENT PAST- double click on The Ever Present Past icon if running from the hard drive.
*Same for One Summer Dream -double click on the SUMMER THE TURN OF THE DAYS icon if running from the hard drive.
*Same for AUTUMN IN THE APIARY -double click on the AUTUMN in the APIARY icon if running from the hard drive.

Best viewed by temporarily setting the monitor to  800x600 resolution and patience while loading.

The discs cover such topics as queen introduction - the late flow - Epirus & the greek breeding centre - seasonal tasks - varroa - foulbrood - acarine -bee quiz - and more. Playable on a PC.

QUIZZING the Beekeeper includes - nine bee books -Beekeepers Business Break Even Analysis videos & calculator for beekeepers - 240 interactive beekeeping questions. Full free disc available to download above.

A sample quiz of 30 questions on the Queen bee can also be downloaded.
Simply click on the cd cover below and then on the download button.

You will need the free Adobe Flash Player 8 or later to play it.


The introduction of queens to alien colonies is the most difficult and uncertain of all beekeeping operations.
No method is 100% and as a result, a free book devoted to the subject is available as a download.


The BICKERSTAFFE cage is based on the Alley-Chantry principle, two passage-ways are built
into the cage and one is covered with a piece of a queen excluder. As less candy is placed in
the tunnel with the excluder the bees reach her sooner, as she cannot escape the queen
becomes calmer in the presence of the hive bees and when the longer tunnel is eaten out she
can be set free in a calmer state, which can lead to improved acceptance of a valuable

It is important to put only a VERY SMALL AMOUNT of soft candy into the tunnels. About 1cm
in the tunnel with excluder and slightly more in the unguarded tunnel. You do not want the
queen laying under the comb rather she should join the colony before the supersedure
instinct sets in.
Keep a hand supporting the cage until it is wedged in between the frames.
With strong colonies, it is important that the beekeeper knows exactly how to introduce a
It is best to try and introduce the new queen to a smaller nuc composed of young nurse bees,
two frames of sealed and emerging brood, one frame of honey, one of pollen and an empty
frame, try to avoid including eggs or larvae.
If you do not have an introduction cage the Queen cage that she arrives in can be used.
Remove all attendants and the candy cap and place between the top frames. It is also
possible to cut off the plastic end opposite the candy end to act as a queen excluder
allowing bees to mix with the queen until she is released when the candy is eaten away. In
two days if the bees are not excitable, let them have access to the candy....keep eyes open
for queen cells when returning in a week and knock out if found.
Using Carbon dioxide to knock out young bees is a successful method of introduction of
Queens into mini nucs.
Bees from an established strong colony can be shaken off frames of open & sealed brood and
then placed over a Queen excluder to allow younger bees to come up and care for it. The next
day this resource can form the basis of a nuc.
Wait about a week after introduction, return in the evening towards dusk(daylight can cause
a new Queen to fly away), and use a lightly sugared hand sprayer to cover the bees while
looking for her. If a knot of bees is seen the queen may be balled-spray and firmly pat
with fingers to release her.Re cage and allow her to recover.

If it is decided to unite the nuc to a stronger stock wait a week for the Queen to start
laying and then use household air freshener spray on the floor and tops of frames of the
hive, place the nuc frames together in the new hive.
Please post your COMMENTS on what you have found to be successful in introducing a queen bee, to help other beekeepers.


It is acceptable to use the traveling cage that the Queen arrives in for introduction, however, some people without apiaries or strong stocks may prefer this special cage which is
the best-known method to do the job.
The principle is a short passageway, fitted with a piece of the queen excluder and a very small amount of candy (1 CM candy)which is eaten out by the bees after 2 -3 hours, the excluder preventing the queen escaping. The bees feed and care for the queen and after 6 or fewer hours the longer tunnel(1.5 CM candy) is cleared out and she can join the general community in a calmer state before they have the instinctive urge to replace her.
If not clipped the queen must be transferred to the cage inside a car or other enclosed
space. Use a fingernail to prise open the small round hinge at the side of the traveling
cage, the whole cage can then be snapped apart. Place the Queen on her own inside the open
part of the new cage which can be covered with a card and placed in position on a comb of
emerging brood (or bring the brood frame into the car if not clipped) slid away and then
pressed in with a screwing movement, care taken not to cut through the mid-rib or damaging
the queen. The cage is heavy and you must keep hold of it, pressed in until placed in the
hive and the adjoining comb can be pressed into the staples to support it. Space the comb
well away from its neighbor, lower in the frame with the cage keeping your hand on it until
it is gently slid up against the adjoining comb and thus supported,(do not allow the cage to
knock against a frame when lowering it in ) the staples contact the adjacent comb preventing
the cage falling off and allowing clustering space. The old queen can be removed at the same
time as the new is given in one operation if taking away young bees as a nuc (making it
ideal for out apiaries). However, it would be better to leave the bees queenless for 6-12
hours to loose the older flying bees before putting the new one in. Ensure the tunnel holes
point upwards when fixing onto the side of a comb of sealed brood- you do not want the queen
to fall onto the floor on release.
The queen does not want to be confined in the cage for too long in case the bees build  queen
cells- hence the very small amounts of candy, allowing her to join the general community just
at a time when they have missed their old queen, and before they have felt the instinctive
urge to replace her by rearing another.
If you have an out apiary the best results are obtained by mixing bees, take a frame of
bees and brood from three different hives together with a food frame leave queenless for at
least 6 hours and take to another apiary, when in place introduce the new queen with the
cage on a frame of sealed brood.
The cage is really designed to be used with frames of brood. If a hive is queenless and broodless then the tunnel without queen excluder should be widened to allow an extension tube of 1 inch to be added and the whole filled with candy. This will delay the release of the queen for a few days.
In all cases, it is best to not go back into the hive for a few weeks or months until the queen has settled in and laying well. Observation at the hive entrance with pollen pouring in should show a success. The danger of balling the queen is always present during this time and leaving the cage will just mean having to cut away some wild comb later on. If you do want to remove the cage, wait a week, and remove it in the evening without using smoke.

Queen acceptance can reach 96% in the case of nuclei when all instructions are
followed. Return towards dusk a week later to check she has been released and alive, using
lightly sugared water rather than smoke. Remove the cage and any brace comb.
R.O.B Manleys book"HONEY FARMING" pages 200-207 describes this cage and the great success it brings to the most difficult and uncertain of all beekeeping operations.
Please post your COMMENTS on any advice you can give a beekeeper on using the cage.

A video can be viewed, Introduction Cage


* OXALIC ACID  kills Varroa  Mites *
 Sublimation of Oxalic Acid
The Oxalic acid Vaporizer is heated with a gas/paraffin torch for approximately 5 to 6 minutes causing the sublimation of 2-3 gram oxalic acid crystals. It is important to keep the elbow still and slightly lower than the outlet tube at all times until it is removed from the hive. This prevents the acid from running out as a liquid before it has had time to be heated and sublimate into the hive as a vapor. Apply the heat close to the elbow where the liquid will be and along the entire length for several minutes. Once fumes are first seen(usually vapor is seen from any cracks close to the pipe end).continually run the torch along the entire length of the tube to re-liquefy any crystals that stick inside the pipe. If crystals are seen at the tip end when removing the pipe, apply heat there and quickly return it into the hive, all the while keeping it tilted back.
It is then left in place for a further minute or two while the vapors settle. Once removed the hive is left closed up for 10 minutes. Use a metal rod to check the pipe does not become blocked with any acid condensing in the tube, and apply heat to any blockage. Short length pipes of six inches work best.
To treat several hives, do not unscrew the cap, instead put the crystals in at the tip end, allowing them to fall to the back. Constantly heat along the entire length of the tube, keeping it slightly tilted back. Once sublimated, with the funnel, refill and move to the next hive. Each hive will then take less than five minutes to treat.
The particles of acid cover the bee's bodies and kill the mites hiding under the abdominal
segments as well as condensing on the honeycombs and hive parts. As the bees move around
they carry very small amounts of the crystals on their feet. Along with hive humidity, the
oxalic acid is active and corrodes the mite's proboscis. The mites die of starvation.
When oxalic acid crystals are heated to 315F it starts to sublime ( goes directly from
solid to liquid to gas) This is why it is important to not allow the liquid to run out of the tube until it has had time to turn into a vapor.
Colonies are always healthier in the Spring after treating with the acid. As all parts of the hive are treated it acts as a hive disinfectant and will kill any Acarine. If the beekeeper does not want to use a blow torch, other methods can be devised, such as the use of a tea light to heat the oxalic acid inside the hive. This will work just as well but takes longer and should be left for a few hours after lighting.

Oxalic acid can cause damage to health if swallowed and protective equipment should be worn. As the Vaporizer can reach a high-temperature glove must be used and no parts of the metal should be touched.
A nozzle is included which can be used as a funnel for adding the crystals. If any crystals fall around the cap and thread it should be wiped clean before heating to prevent the thread seizing. The nozzle can also be placed at the outlet when used with small entrances, nucs or polyurethane hives. Use a flexible wire to keep the tube clear and oil around the cap.

As well as from applying from below, an eke can be placed over the brood, with a hole drilled in the side to place the nozzle from above. If a glass or perspex crown board is available the beekeeper can see the sublimation. Using a face mask, goggles and gloves the tube can be heated in the open air to gauge how long it takes to sublimate and to find the correct technique of applying the heat to ensure all the acid vaporizes. Remember it must be tilted slightly back and kept still. The tube is only made long to allow a handhold, experimentation will allow it to be cut to as little as six inches in length when mole grips or such as appliances should be used.  Best and easiest results are obtained when an eke ( empty super and glass/perspex crown board ) is used with a drilled hole, so avoiding having to hold the tube.

* No residues in wax or honey * No resistance formed * Easy to use * Economical * All bees get covered * Gentler than dribbling methods * Can be used several times in a season * No queen losses *Swarms & bloodless treated anytime Vaporizer lifelong use * 100g Oxalic acid included with the vaporizer.
*Tracheal mite also killed

Treating Beehives  With Oxalic Acid Vapor 

Vaporizing is gentler on the bees than dribbling, the hive is not opened and all the bees and hive parts get covered, including the mites hiding under the abdominal segments.

HANDLE OXALIC ACID SAFELY. Keep out of reach of children. Wear goggles, gloves, and a protective face mask FFP3.In case of eye contact, immediately wash out with water.
Sublimation should see all the vapors staying in the hive, with all cracks sealed, but a face mask must be used as a precaution.

For beekeepers who trickle the acid in a liquid form, an online calculator is available here to ensure accurate measurements of ingredients, as the wrong concentration's dribbled can prove fatal, killing many bees or the complete colony.
To use the calculator, key in one figure only into the chosen box and then click on CALCULATE.
To carry out a new calculation click on the RESET button.

Oxalic Acid Mite Treatments  

Oxalic acid vaporizer  for honey bee mite control    

Apiculture Bee Breeding Station

The centre of apiculture was started in 1985 by Margarita and her husband. It was her husband who had a great love for the bees. In the beginning of 1983 just outside Ioannina , a city on the northwest side of Greece, they started to build the first establishments. The first years were rather difficult and 5 years passed before the European beekeepers began to know more about the company. Today it is a family concern keeping Margaritas daughter Lambrini busy, who is an agriculturist and her husband Panagiotis who is a beekeeper, Margaritas two sons— Jim & Zacharias , agriculturists and of course her husband John who is a technician teacher of beekeepers.

The average temperatures are situated between –10 C in January and 40 C in summer. The
annual average precipitation is high, July and August are the driest months, with long
periods of sunshine during the month's March to September. The vegetation of Ioannina is
composed of pollinators and of nectar plants. The abundant pollinators are Salix, Ulex Prunus spinoza, Asphodelus albus, and Erica which yields nectar too. The majority of the beehives over winter in a place south of Ioannina , called Arta, where the temperature is higher and bees can find Erica and Arbutus bush flowers and late orange flowers. In that place at the beginning of March queen breeding starts.

The company has two queen mating stations, one in the area Sellades Coboti, Arta, and the
other one in the area Kostakius, Arta. Also at the beginning of April, the transfer of queen
mating nuclei to an island called Coronisia, for pure queen mating is carried out. This
island is 17 km away from the mating station in the area Kostakius. At the beginning of May
the mating stations are transferred. One of them is created near to the company
establishment and the next to Neocoropoulo and another to Zagorochoria that is 40 km from
Ioannina at an altitude of 1200m. The company has 1000 Langstroth beehives, 200 old
traditional basket hives, and 2000 mating nucleus made of Styroper.

Both natural mating and instrumental insemination is used in the breeding program.
It is the father John who carries out the Artificial Insemination work. Instrumental insemination is an indispensable element of contemporary apiculture. Genetic and breeding research, accentuation of resistance or immunity to diseases, selection of
desirable characteristics, and their intensification and combination, modification of
undesirable traits, and creation of lines for special uses would not be possible without it. The apparatus is costly and the work highly skilled, so that its use will probably be
confined to these special queen mating stations.

                                                                  BICKERSTAFFS  BEE MOVIES AT THE GREEK  CENTRE 2005 VISIT HERE

Early in the twentieth century, a youngster named Adam Kehrle (1898-1996) came from Germany
to Devon with a view to joining the Roman Catholic community of Benedictine monks at
Buckfast Abbey. Brother Adam was put in charge of the bees at the Abbey and he set about to use
cross-breeding to develop a new bee which would be hardy, disease-resistant, and a good honey
producer. He made extensive journeys all over the world mainly to isolated country regions where the
purity of the native strains had been maintained. This led to the publication of `IN SEARCH OF THE BEST STRAINS OF BEES` and his high praise
and use in his breeding program of the Cecropian bee. The result over many years of the experiment led to his own named bee.

Queens available include
* Un mated*Tested mated*Artificial Inseminated*Natural mated on an Island*Breeder Queens- The best suitable for breeding.
* Morphometrical bee wing analysis for determination of the bee race is available at 50.00
Each bee shipment is notified in advance to fera and the local BORDER INSPECTION POST (BIP) and is accompanied with a veterinary assurance certificate to comply with the direction 92/65 EU that they never
presented any clinical sign of American foulbrood or aethina tumida (small hive beetle)
during examination.
Every year the continual increasing demand and the continual congratulations the centre
receives from customers proves the best quality of the queens whose genetic material is
getting better all the time.


QUEEN BEE characteristics



Buckfast x Cecropia PDF

* Buckfast X Cecropia *
BUCKFAST. A hybrid of several races, selected for gentleness, wintering, production, and disease resistance. Our Buckfast Queens are the gentlest honeybees you will find. Not inclined to rob. They don’t run. Produce white capping. Fly in cooler weather than other
bees. Pack brood nest with honey for good wintering. Curtail egg laying during dearths.
Brood development starts in early spring, which affords the colony with a large population
that is maintained until fall. They are excellent housekeepers, which aids in their control
of wax moths and provides them with resistance to diseases. (Available only crossed with the
Greek races with excellent results)

Brother Adam made a series of visits through Europe and beyond, to North Africa and the near and
middle East, with the goal of collecting genetic material for the cross-breeding of the honey bee.
When all his evaluations on the races and crosses are studied, both good and bad, one race stands out
above the rest, Apis mellifera cecropia and its crosses.
The extracts from his book IN SEARCH OF THE BEST STRAINS OF BEES  PDF can be read / download at the Buckfast x Cecropia PDF link above.

The Monk and the Honeybee - VIDEO      Part 1.         Part 2.         Part 3.          Part 4.            Part 5.

* Apis mellifera Carnica *
The Carniolan bee of Slovenia and Austria is the nearest relative of the Italian, but it is
darker, the characteristic yellow rings of Ligustica being replaced by dark bands. The
Carnica territory covers a large area of south-eastern Europe, and there are numerous
regional variations. The characteristic brood rhythm is a rapid build-up in spring, followed
by a slow decline and an early cessation of brood rearing in the autumn. It is particularly
suited to an early spring honey flow and the bees' flies in cool weather. It can survive
hard winters with a small winter cluster. She packs brood nest with honey for good
wintering. Produces combs with white cappings. Carniolan bees are more prone to swarming
than Italian bees, but selective breeding can reduce this tendency.


* A.M.Mellifera Queens *

The European dark bee can be distinguished from other subspecies by their stocky body,
abundant thoracal and sparse abdominal hair which is brown, and overall dark coloration.
Works early in the morning. It can be runnier on the comb and balling the queen.
The black bee of western Europe. Produce white capping. Excellent flight strength even in
cold weather. The breeding of brood starts early in the spring. Use excessive propolis. Not inclined to rob. One of the best bees for good wintering. Defensive against invaders ie. wasps.
Low tendency to swarm. Careful, maritime brood cycle. Strong drive to collect pollen.
High longevity of the worker bees and queen.


* Apis mellifera Caucasia *
The Caucasian bee closely resembles A. m. Carnica in general appearance, and may not be
easily distinguished from the latter except by morphometric examination. A. M. Caucasia is
autochthonous (the original sub-species) to the mountain range and southern valleys of the
Caucasus, and to the eastern end of the Black Sea coast in Anatolia The Caucasian bee is
noteworthy for the length of its proboscis, being the longest of all the mellifera races.
Caucasians are considered the gentlest bee in the world. The abdominal bands in the queens
have a wide range in colour from yellow and black to grey. Their plus qualities are
wintering ability, reduced swarming tendency, adequate hive defense, minimum drifting, and
the production of beautiful white capping. The colony strength is slow in building and
reaches its peak in mid-summer. The bees have an inclination to utilize burr comb
frequently. Brood rearing generally starts late and the spring build-up is slow, leading to
medium population size in summer and autumn. The swarming tendency is low, and the number of swarm cells moderate. Caucasian bees are notorious for their heavy use of propolis,
especially at the hive entrance. In winter the entrance may be almost completely closed by a
curtain of resin, leaving only a few small holes for ventilation and flight activity. She
combines very well with other races, particularly Carnica and Ligustica.
Many hives over winter at ARTA with the milder temperatures providing a faster start to the
season both for queen mating and honey forage. October to December from the ericas and strawberry tree, early April the orange tree honey. By mid-June, hives are moved from 40-degree temperatures to the cooler region of the Pindos


* Apis mellifera Cecropia - Macedonica *
Cecropia (west and south Greece) and Macedonica (east and north Greece) bee are the Greek
bee races. Cecropia bee closely resembles A. m. Carnica in general appearance. Queens and
drones are dark. The breeding of brood starts early in the spring and makes big colonies.
The swarming tendency is high. Like Caucasia, Cecropia bees are notorious for their heavy use of
propolis, at the hive entrance, and inside the hive so they create problems to the handling
of the combs. Honey cells are wet capped, i.e. there is no air space between the honey and
the capping, and this may lead to "weeping" of the comb. She produces a lot of honey, especially in early spring honey flows. The difference between Macedonica and Cecropia is
that Macedonica is gentler as it is one of the nearest relatives of the Carniolan bees. The Cecropia is ideal for use in breeding, passing on high fecundity without bad temper.
The Pindos range provide cooler conditions during the summer for forage from Acacia, clovers
and most importantly honeydew.


* Apis mellifera ligustica *
The Italian honeybee is the most widely distributed of all honeybees and has proved
adaptable to most climates from subtropical to cool temperate, but it is less satisfactory
in humid tropical regions. Brood development starts in early spring, which affords the
colony with a large population that is maintained until fall. They are excellent
housekeepers, which aids in their control of wax moths and provides them with resistance to
diseases. Aside from being industrious, they have a gentle nature and are able to adapt to
climates with extreme temperatures. On the negative side, they are inclined to drift and
have a high honey consumption, which requires ample stores for over-wintering.To combat this
they can be reduced in strength to 6 frames in late Autumn. A.m.ligustica has a low swarming
tendency. Italian bees are much more prone to drifting and robbing than the other principal
races of Europe. Ligustica makes very big colonies and it is one of the most favorite bees
for commercial honey producers. She does not use a lot of propolis.
From early April until mid-May the island of Koronisia is used for queen mating. This isolated spot sees over 100 mini nucs and some 10 hives of selected drones being
changed to raise different races of bees.

A project for finding the Queen Bee in a strong hive!

To keep track of hives and queen bees good records are essential.
A free beekeeping software program and tutorials can be found by clicking the picture.





Breeding the honey bee

Are you breeding the honey bee on a genetic basis? Or interested in seeing the different traits of the races of honey bees in your apiary.
Several races of queens are now available within the UK from BICKERSTAFFS.
The next post lists them all, together with the traits of her progeny. Study it with care.
Beekeepers often look for different characteristics and the Greek queen breeding centre has described them for you.
All queen bees are mated in the region of Epirus at the northwest corner of Greece.

A family-based at Ioannina is responsible for producing the queens. Founder John and his
wife Margarita, their two sons Jim and Zacharias, daughter Labrini and husband Panagiotis.
The BuckfastXCecropia, Carnica, Caucasia, Cecropia, Macedonica or Ligustica may be ordered at
any time but there will need to be a fortnights notice for any bee that is not a

The queens are sent out from the Greek breeding station late Monday evening to be flown
early mornings Tuesday from Athens airport which usually arrives Tuesday evening in the UK.
They are mailed straight away to be with the British beekeeper between Thursday and
Saturday. Because of unpredictable events, it is best to track ordered queens from the QUEEN TRACKING page.

Every queen is sent in a small plastic cage with attendant worker bees and a hive tag with a
note of the breeding date, race, and suggested date of replacement. This is pinned to the
crown board to ensure that the hive is always headed by young first-class queens. It is best
not to run a Queen beyond two seasons heading a hive. Older Queens should not be killed,
instead, place in nuc boxes or spare equipment to continue to provide bees and brood for your
other hives.

Because the water-based spot placed on the queen can wear off it is advised to remark her
perhaps later in the season to ensure the original queen is still heading the hive. When
bred with drones from an unknown source the results can be variable.
Try to give a good laying queen like the BuckfastxCecropia the equivalent of two deep
National hive bodies, with plenty of empty supers to take away pressure from honey
congesting the brood chamber. Run an `open brood nest` discard all poorly drawn comb or any holding granulated honey to ensure room for a good queen
to lay to her full potential. Restricting her room especially in the Spring is to invite
swarming. If the weather is poor or changeable leave Bakers Fondant/Candy / Sugar Blocks * with the hive to help provide stronger stocks for when a honey flow may occur.

*BAKO  White fondant is available for collection direct from depots in each region of Britain, in 12.5 kg blocks.  Wrap in foil.

The best way to introduce queen bees is to make up a nucleus using bees and brood from three
different hives together with a food frame and moving to another apiary, leave queenless
overnight and then introduce your new queen using the Bickerstaff cage.
During the season lightly sugared water from a hand sprayer can be all that is needed when
working the bees in reasonable weather, it is a good idea to add a few drops of peppermint
oil to the sprayer to help knock out some Varroa mites, but do not rely on it alone!
In the Spring, to help control Acarine, Varroa, Nosema it will help your bees if you add
thymol to your sugar syrup (dilute 30 gm thymol crystals in 150ml surgical spirit or
vinegar....add 5ml of the solution to 13.5 liters syrup) repeat in early Autumn with
entrance blocks in place.

In the late Autumn, Oxalic acid is used by heating the crystals in a copper tube using a blow
lamp. The season starts in the Autumn. Ensure stocks are equalized in strength, headed by young queens, treated against
Varroa, Acarine and Nosema which are endemic, with plenty of stores for the winter, and in a
 sheltered spot that catches the winter sun
Help control against Nosema by adding 1 Teaspoon of Tea Tree Oil per gallon of syrup.

Autumn is an ideal time to requeen. Acceptance is higher at this time of year. There is no
set back the following Spring. The hives will now be much healthier, stronger, earlier. Young
bees are laid for stronger overwintering and as the Queens are recently mated they will
still give two seasons productivity.
 If you live in an area with an early spring flow have the colony go into winter with the equivalent of one and a half National brood chambers together with two supers of honey
without a queen excluder, the BuckfastxCecropia will then be in a strong shape when oilseed
rape is in flower.
Ioannina is a beautiful lakeside town in the North West Region of Greece (3min 54sec)

City of Ioannina (2min 45sec)
The photograph above displays the Bee Centre & Bee House with Lake Pamvotis and Pindos mountains