Welcome to BIBBA's Website,
the home of Bee Improvement in Britain and Ireland


What is BIBBA?

BIBBA is the acronym of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders' Association.

BIBBA was founded in 1964, by Beowulf Cooper and others, for the conservation, restoration, study, selection and improvement of the native and near-native honey bees of Britain and Ireland (Apis mellifera mellifera).

Membership of BIBBA is open to those who are interested in producing high quality native and near-native honey bees.

BIBBA is registered with the Charity Commissioners in the UK (Reg No. 273827).

See Events page for news of exciting events to help beekeepers improve their bees.

Project Discovery

BIBBA is trying to record the locations of native and near native honey bees in the UK and Republic of Ireland. This is Project Discovery which is a survey of the location of honey bees that are close in racial characteristics to the native bee Apis mellifera mellifera. It is difficult to tell if your dark bees are the ones we are looking for as the colour can vary from brown to black, but physically the indigenous bees are generally large in body size with long abdominal overhairs. Their main noticeable behavioural characteristics are that they are thrifty, non-prolific and fly at low temperatures and in high winds. (Other characteristics come from selective breeding).

Their wing venation (vein pattern) is characteristic and measuring this is one of several ways we can use to help us determine if they are native or not. If you believe your bees to be native or near native then please send a sample of young bees (minimum 30 bees) to...

Alan Jones, 14 Dermott Avenue,
Comber, County Down,
BT23 5JE, Northern Ireland.

(Email first to say the sample has been posted). When you collect the sample please put in the freezer for 24 hours, then dry and pack in paper towel in a cardboard box (not in plastic) to send by post. If your bees morphometric measurements are close to the native bee then we will confirm this with further genetic testing. It would also be helpful if you know the history of where your bees came from initially.

At the same time BIBBA is setting up bee improvement and breeding groups around the country to improve the characteristics of your local bees. By selection and culling it is hoped to improve your local strains so that they best suit your local environmental conditions. Jo Widdicombe is BIBBA's Bee Improvement Group Secretary and he can help with support and guidance (see admin page for contact details).

What does BIBBA do?

  • Publish "Bee Improvement" magazine that is packed with information.
  • Hold conferences, sometimes in conjunction with other beekeeping organisations, where well known speakers talk on different aspects of beekeeping, with the emphasis on bee improvement and breeding.
  • Arrange events including lectures, field days and workshops, which may cover such subjects as queen rearing, colony behavioural characteristics and morphometric techniques.
  • Encourage groups of beekeepers to work together on bee selection and breeding in their own area. Does this interest you ? Then do not delay... Join BIBBA today !
Printed from BIBBA Website
Written... 29 May 2008, Revised... 10 July 2008, Revised... 15 August 2008, Revised... 20 May 2009, Addition... 27 April 2010, Revised 23-12-11,