B4 – Achievements and Aspirations


Building on 30+ years of work done by Roger Dewhurst (CBIBBG) and Jo Widdicombe (BIPCo).

B4Project CIC (Community Interest Company)

Nick Bentham Green (BIPCo) East Cornwall –estb 2009,

James Kilty, Bob Black, Maggie Freegard (CBIBBIG) West Cornwall,

Andrew Brown (B4 Secretary).


So far B4 achievements:-

  1. September 2012 Dr Steve Marsh and Professor David Brown FRS at University College London donate equipment and consumables to B4 CIC with the purpose of equipping a laboratory. The laboratory will help in identifying the remnants of Apis mellifera mellifera in the Cornish Peninsular, correlating findings with DNA evidence and using artificial insemination to conserve this regional example of the subspecies.
  2. Initial genetic report Theodore Allnutt (Fera) 2013
    1. “The overall picture is what we would have expected – most of the B4 bees have a similar genetic background to our A. m. m. reference collection (from Northumbria and Colonsay) BUT they are also distinct from those bees, arguably as distinct as the other sub-species are from each other. However, the important thing for you I suppose is that they mostly show very little overlap with the other imported sub-species: Carnica, Ligustica, Balkan (3 different ‘Greek’ bee types), Iberica, and the French ones”.
  3. Tim Smit – Patron of B4.
  4. Paignton Zoo 11/05/13 Black Bees installed at Paignton Zoo.
  5. Spotlight visit Zoo 05/06/13 and film Black Bees.
  6. BIPco 3rd Annual Bee Improvement Day at Dobwalls Memorial Hall 25/01/14 presentaton Catherine Eleanor Thompson.
  7. The health and status of the feral honeybee (Apis mellifera sp) and Apis mellifera mellifera population of the UK,  thesis  Catherine Eleanor Thompson http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/5211/1/CorrectedThesis3.pdf
  8. Sheryll Murray MP offered support following visit to Newton Farm 21/06/2013.
  9. Julie Girling MEP visit to Newton Farm and advice on European Funding – 12/07/2013.
  10. Heritage Lottery Grant £9600  January 2014
  11. Lord Robin Teverson audience and support, hosted by Eden – 21/02/2014.
  12. George Eustice MP Defra Junior Minister hosted at Paradise Park, Hayle – 28/06/2014.
  13. Second round of genetic investigation 2014
    1.  44 sites across Cornwall and 4 across British Isles
    2. Working with Fera.
  14. Public education interfaces at Eden, Heligan, Paradise Park, and Paignton Zoo (facilitated by Heritage Lottery Fund).
    1. ‘The indigenous and threatened British Black Bee’.
  15. Cooperation of Duchy and MOD. (Isolated mating sites).
    1. MOD – Tregantle Fort
    2. Duchy – Lostwithiel
  16. IBRA (International Bee Research Association).
    1. Delegate co-opted as associate member B4.
    2. We wish to collaborate with European research institutions working in the field of conserving residual unique populations of Amm and Dr Norman Carrick has a great deal of experience of working in an inclusive, open and cooperative manner in the international field.
  17. Opened dialogue with Plymouth University, Dr Mairi Knight (geneticist).
    1. Associate Professor Dr Mairi Knight is interested in evolutionary and ecological processes that give rise to and maintain extant biodiversity.
    2. Rame Head and its local population of Amm lie within the curtilage of Plymouth City.
  18. Opened dialogue Dr Norman Carrick (University Sussex and IBRA). Dr Carrick latest research shows, that the locally adapted strains of honey bee consistently performed better than the “foreign” strains.”
  19. Prince Charles visits the Duchy Nursery at Lostwithiel 14/07/2014 and is introduced to Rodger Dewhurst, Nick Bentham-Green and Andrew Brown, the B4Project is discussed.
  20. Black bees certified and installed by Bob Black at Godolphin House. Small grant given for joint Display with National Trust
  21. BIPCo/B4 visit to Pembrokeshire/Robert Jones 19-20/07/14. Robert has 30+ years’ experience of conserving Pembrokeshire Black Bees and his work has much in common with our Cornish project.
  22. Meeting to brief Sarah Newton MP about the B4Project at the Eden Project on the 30th January 2015 at  3pm for 1½  Hours. She will see the  bee-friendly exhibition which includes the “Honeyscribe and Melissographia” artwork by Amy Shelton.
  23. February 7th 2015 Annual Bee Improvement Day to be held at Dobwalls Memorial Hall near Liskeard, Cornwall PL14 6LS 9.00am for 9.30-4.00pm. Guest Speaker: Harry Owens from The Isle of Man plus local speakers.
  24. February 2015 Fera were unfortunately, despite multiple attempts, not able to extract sufficient genetic material from the wing clippings provided to provide a robust analysis.
  25. B4 is approached by Plymouth University and the birth of Plymouth University Beekeeping Association is facilitated by Dr Lea Bayly. An 8 session practical course is provided by B4 for University Staff  and good examples of Apis mellifera mellifera are procured. Gerry Stuart from Paignton Zoo helped with the apiary provision with his designs and health and safety input.
  26. Plymouth University partnered by B4 and Professor Walter Shepperd WSU submit application for NERC funding of PhD student.
  27. HLF agreed that samples could be sent to Gabrielle Solande from Apigenix a Swiss laboratory specialising in genetic work on Apis mellifera mellifera.
  28. 22nd September 2015 first set of B4 results and report received from Apigenix.
  29. Associate Professor Mairi Knight agrees to scrutinise our work and publish it if suitable.
  30. Friday 30th of October 2015 meeting to discuss the “Mount Edgcumbe Cornish Black Bee Haven”. George Trubody CCC, David Marshal from Mount Edgcumbe  met representatives of B4 to discuss the creation of a bee haven in the Summer of 2016. Sheryll Murray MP offered her support.
  31. January 2015 second set of results received from Apigenix.
  32.  February 5th 2016 Annual Bee Improvement Day held at Dobwalls Memorial Hall near Liskeard, Cornwall PL14 6LS 9.00am for 9.30-4.00pm. Guest Speaker: Willie Robson of Chain Bridge Honey Farm, Berwick-Upon –Tweed.
  33.  HLF allow us to use remaining £290.50 to seed the apiary at the Mount Edgcumbe House and Park Black Bee Haven (Rame Peninsula).
  34.  29th February 2016 Heritage Lottery part of the project completed.
  35. Positive funding outcome from 2016 NERC Industrial CASE Studentship Competition. B4 to partner Plymouth University. PhD student to start September 2017.
  36. Tesco Bags of Help:- B4Project CIC; Project Title – Country Park Black Bee Haven. Store voting start started on Monday 31 October until Sunday 13 November 2016.
  37. Friday 13th January 2017 Rupert Mcallum Plymouth University MSc student agrees to do collaborative dissertation with B4.
  38. Wednesday 18th January 2017 Plymouth University Safekeeping Bees Arts Symposium B4 represented
  39. Friday 20 January at 16.00pm Mount Edgcumbe meeting with the Rangers and Staff to implement Black Bee Reserve. Dr Mairi Knight will present. Photo with Tesco grant representative.
  40. Saturday 18th February BIPCo 6th Annual Bee Improvement Day, Lanhydrock Memorial Hall, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5AE. http://www.b4project.co.uk/events-2/
  41. Spring 2017 Tesco’s Groundworks fund (£10000) for a Black Bee Reserve at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. Compulsory code of conduct for resident beekeepers agreed for the Park.
  42. Kurt Jacksons exhibition, “Bees (And the Odd Wasp) in My Bonnet”  opens on the 24th March St Just.  B4/Friends of The Earth. http://www.jacksonfoundationgallery.com/index/bees/
  43. Thursday 25th of May 1pm The Orangery Mount Edgcumbe for the opening of the Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Bee Reserve. Sir Tim Smit KBE Patron, Associate Professor Mairi Knight Head of Biological Science Plymouth University, Lord Teverson. Michael Eavis CBE becomes our second patron.
  44. NERC Industrial CASE PhD student to start September 2017. B4 to partner Plymouth University with Washington State University as minor partner. 4 Years.
  45.    http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/plymouth-researchers-helping-safeguard-precious-bees/story-30082664-detail/story.html
  46. https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/pr-opinion/opinion-how-do-we-protect-our-native-bee-species
  47. Tesco Bags of Help Grant /Marley Farm Apiary South Brent. Create a home for our native honey bees on the site of an historic apiary, established during the 1920s by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey. £4000
  48. Tesco Bags of Help Grant/Rosewarne Teaching Apiary.Create a teaching apiary devoted to our native Cornish Honey Bees at the Duchy College Rosewarne. £2000.
  49. Tesco Bags of Help Grant/Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Black Bee Reserve. Enhance Englands first Black Honey Bee Reserve. £4000.
  50. Tesco Bags of Help Grant/Shebbear Black Bee Conservation Project. Equipment for teaching, : bee suits, variety of hives, stock and specialised bee breeding equipment. £1000.
  51. Tesco Bags of Help Grant. The West Devon Bee Improvement Group (WDBIG) grant to identify, conserve and promote locally-adapted honey bees in the area. £1000.
  52. The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation/Genetic survey of the Cornish Black Bee Population in Cornwall. £3000.
  53. Eden Project Cornwall 17th February 2018 Conference Sustainable Beekeeping,  “A Future without Imports.”  http://www.b4project.co.uk/events-2/
  54. March 2018 Patagonia supports B4’s Project Discovery Saving The UK’s Last Native Black Honey Bees with $6000
  55. April 2018 Heritage Lottery Project successful £35,000. B4 collaboration with Eden/Heligan/Plymouth University
  56. May 2018 Plymouth University starts genetic testing of the population of black honey bees
  57. May 2018 BIBBA fund 4000 Euro Black Bee Breeding Program.
  58. May 23rd 2018 Introgression in native populations of Apis mellifera mellifera L: implications for conservation Journal of Insect Conservation. Published. https://rdcu.be/OYcm
  59. May 23rd 2018 B4 Invited to opening of Invisible Worlds Exhibition Eden.
  60. May 30 – June 2nd 2018 B4 invited to Patagonia second European Tools for Grassroots Activists conference hosted by Patagonia, in Una National Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  61. June 11th 2018 Eden afternoon 2hours B4 /CAUKIN plan Arts Council application and delivery of HLF project.
  62. June 29th 2018 Friday 0900-1000. Sir Tim Smit acknowledges the Heritage Lottery Project entitled “Conserving the Native Honey Bee of The British Isles in Cornwall” at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. This is a B4/Eden/Heligan/Plymouth University partnership. Beekeepers across the South West and further afield will be asked to help Plymouth University PhD student Victoria Buswell with her Honey Bee Study.
  63. July 12-15 2018 SICAMM Conference, Mustialan, Finland. Norman Carrek (Sussex) represents B4 issues and Dr Jon Ellis (Plymouth University) presents, Introgression in native populations of Apis mellifera mellifera L: implications for conservation Journal of Insect Conservation.
  64. September 26th 2018 Heligan declare as Black Bee Reserve Sir Tim Smit, Dr Mike Maunder (Eden), George Elworthy (MD Heligan.). 1pm-5pm.
  65. February 2019 Plymouth University to put on academic workshop 6pm Friday 15th .
  66. Feb 2019 Eden 2nd Conference for Sustainable Beekeeping, a Future Without Imports. Saturday 16th (AM academics, PM short presentations from “groups” in South West). Norman Carreck, Mark Barnett Roslin Institute, Plymouth University Molecular Biology Group, Dylan Elen PhD Researcher on Honey Bee Subspecies Conservation Bangor University.
  67. Feb 2019 Saturday 16th 8pm “Groups” supper.
  68. Feb 2019 BIBBA groups day 17th Mount Edgcumbe. 10-12pm and 2-4pm.
  69. Feb 2019 Monday 18th February open apiary day West Devon Bee Improvement Group 10-12pm and Shebbear Black Bee Conservation Project  open apiary day 2.00-4.00pm.
  70. Feb 2019 Tuesday 19th February Treluswell allotment Falmouth 10-12am and Godolphin House National Trust 2-4pm.
  71. Feb 2019 Wednesday 20th February apiary day at Heligan 10-12pm and apiary day at Eden 2.00-4.00 pm.
  72. Feb 2019 Thursday 21st February  Blackdown Hills Black Bee Conservation Project 10am and Project B5, Somerset British Black Bee Conservation Group 2-4 pm.
  73. Feb 2019 Friday 22nd February Cockington open apiary 10-12 pm and 2-4 pm open apiary Marley Farm Apiary South Brent.
  74. Feb 2019 Saturday 23rd February BIPCo apiary day at Tregantle Fort 2pm.
  75. Feb 2019 Sunday 24th February 2-4pm Rosewarne Teaching Apiary
  76. April 19th to 20th June 2019 Eden B4 Exhibition to PU/B4/Eden/Kurt Jackson.
  77. September 2019 Godolphin National Trust declare themselves Black Bee Reserve.
  78. September 2019 Eden declare themselves Black Bee Reserve.
  79. February 14th 2020 PU to put on academic workshop
  80. Feb 15th 2020 Eden 3nd Conference for Sustainable Beekeeping, a Future Without Imports. Saturday (AM academics, PM short presentations from “groups” in South West).
  81. Feb 2020 Saturday 15th 8pm “Groups” supper, venue to be decided.
  82. Feb 2020 Sunday 16th BIBBA groups day Mount Edgcumbe.
  83. Feb 2020 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23rd  24th  open days at groups /apiaries across the South West.