Jo Widdicombe and Keith Pierce

Jo Widdicombe

Born in Newtown Powys, Jo grew up in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire before moving back to Wales and then to Cornwall where he has lived for over 40 years.  He worked in agriculture (organic vegetable production and dairy) before returning to studies. Graduated from Plymouth Polytechnic with B.Sc. (Hons) Environmental Science.  He has retired from his business running a shop for 35 years, with his wife (selling greengrocery, wholefoods, flowers, plants etc.).

Jo has been a beekeeper for over 30 years and currently runs about 150 hives.  He is the President of BIBBA and is a member of the Bee Farmers Association (Chairman of the Southwest group for two years). He is a member of Cornwall BKA and was Secretary for nine years.

He is the author of the book, ‘The Principles of Bee Improvement’ and believes that sustainable improvement in the quality of our bees in Britain and Ireland is best achieved by refraining from the import of exotic sub-species and selecting from the best of what we have got. Small-scale beekeepers need to co-operate and work together in groups.

Keith Pierce, Master Beekeeper

Keith has been beekeeping for more than 25 years, selectively rearing Dark Native Irish Queens Apis mellifera mellifera.  He says “My selection program is based on the ability of my bees to over-winter strongly, together with disease resistance, docility, productivity, colour and more.

My home and main mating apiary is just on the outskirts of Dublin city, with the bees foraging over the extensive area of the Phoenix Park and the Liffey Valley, including the gardens of suburban Castleknock.

My queens are naturally open mated, but I have been flooding the vicinity of my apiary with drones from my own native dark bees.  Each year I over winter more colonies of bees than I need, keeping only the best and requeening those that do not come up to my criteria.”

For this talk, Keith will explain how he is still able to selectively rear quality Queens of our dark native bee, despite having neighbours who are not all using native bees