Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Buckfast! The bees that Brother Adam made

In 2012 we're going to add to our bees with some very special new bees. These bees are Buckfast, a special kind of bee. The history is that in 1916 the bees in England were decimated by something called Isle of Wright disease. the beekeepers didn't understand what was killing the bees, but it killed nearly all of them. It turns out it was an imported mite, not unlike our current situation with the Varroa destructor mite, and not unlike our situation with colony collapse.

Nearly all the colonies were killed off but then a monk, Brother Adam, found a feral colony living and healthy. He returned these to the Buckfast Abby for breeding. Over the next 70 years years Brother Adam traveled through the Near East, Africa and Europe returning with the strongest bees he could find.

These bees represent the hope of a generation and a link to ancient monastic breeding programs. Today the bee is produced only by a few specialized breeders that keep Bother Adam's work alive, literally. Our Buckfast colonies are due to arrive in late April.

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