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US beekeeper creates a buzz 25.02.08

MOVILLE was a hive of activity recently as a crowd of around 60 beekeepers from Inishowen and further afield swarmed to listen to a lecture by one of foremost beekeeping experts in the United States.
For an hour and a half, Dr Clarence H Colliston - Head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University - had the occupants of the Foyle Hotel back room in his thrall as he delivered a masterclass in the art of breeding honeybees.
Among the audience was Greencastle-based playwright and beekeeper Brian Friel. Mr Friel was joined by members of the two local clubs, Foyle and Inishowen, as well as other clubs north and south of the border, including the Roe Valley Beekeepers Association and the Donegal Bee-keepers Association.
The highly-informative talk focused on techniques for producing a thriving hive and how to spot the early signs of disease.
Speaking after his lecture, Dr Colliston (62), who was making his first visit to
Dr Clarence H Colliston.
Europe said: “There are many reasons why people are into bee-keeping. Some do it for the honey, others to have a better [flower] garden and others to be more in touch with nature. I am fascinated by the behaviour of bees in the hive.”
Looking around the room, the lack of youth was obvious, however the Michigan native disagreed with the contention that the practice of beekeeping was in decline.
“It’s true that there aren’t many young people involved in bee-keeping. We have the same problem in the United States because it’s a very expensive and time-consuming activity, a good queen bee can cost over $600. Bee-keeping is still popular with older people.”
Chairperson of the Foyle Beekeepers, Willie McMullan, said it was a great honour for the Greencastle-based club to host a lecture by such a distinguished entomologist.
“The people in the audience here tonight would know a lot about bee-keeping, but it’s great to hear from an expert. Last year, with the wet summer here, the bees didn’t get much chance to make honey,” said the Moville man who has kept bees for over 40 years.
PJ Costello, secretary of the 27-member Foyle Beekeepers Association, said there was great enthusiasm for beekeeping in Inishowen.
“Foyle beekeepers would have attended the World Beekeepers seminar in the RDS, Dublin, in 2006 as well as shows in London. We were able to get Michael Young, a founder-member of the Northern Ireland Bee-keepers Association, to organise Dr Colliston’s visit.”
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