The Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations clg FIBKA

About Us


Fáilte chuig idirlíon Chomhnascadh Cumann Beachairí na h-Éireann. In san comhnascadh seo, tá 48 cumainn áitiúla. Clic ar an léarscáil chun eolas ar an gceann is giorra dhuit a aimsiú. Bíonn clár léachtaí dá chuid féin ar siúl ag gach aon cumann comh maith le teaspáintaisí praicticiúla in san bheachlainn i rith an t-samhraidh. Bíonn cuid de na h-imeachtaí seo socraithe le fada roimh ré agus cuid acu a thárlionn d’aon gnó. Bíonn gach eolas le fáil ón rúnaí áitiúl. Bíonn ranganna ar siúl i rith an gheimhridh ag furmhór de na cumainn i gcóir daoine atá ar intinn acu beachaireacht a fhoghlaim. Is oiriúnach an slí seo chun eolas a fháil ar an gcéird.

Bíonn cúrsa samhradh á reachtáil ag an comhnascadh gach bliain ar gach leibhéil eolais i gColáiste Baile Mhic Gormáin i gCo. na Mí. Mór-chruinniú í seo de bheachairí as gach áird den tír seo agus as tíortha thar lear comh maith. Clic anseo chun a thuile eolais a fháil ar an gcúrsa. Tá gach cumann sa tír faoi chúram ball áirithe de Choiste Feidhmiúchán Náisiúnta an Chomhnascaidh. Seo leanas ainmneacha na mball agus na gcumann atá faoina gcúram.

In san lá atá inniú ann, tá gach rud ceart chun tosnú ar bheaca a choimeád. Níl an oiread sin nitreáid á scaoileadh amach ar an dtalamh ag na feirmeoirí. Tá níos mó síol-ráibe á chur faoi láthair i gcóir ábhar ola chun comhacht a gnothú. Níl an méid chéanna de na clathacha agus na torthaí á leagadh mar tá níos mó tuisceana ag daoine go bhfuil siad an úsáideach o thaobh fothana agus chun an fiadhúlra a chaomhnú. Ón méid seo ar fad, moltar dúinn leanúint leis a gceird ársa seo ag a bfhuil an toradh íontach – fíor mhil na h-Éireann.

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The inaugural meeting was held at the Royal Dublin Society’s rooms, Ballsbridge at 12 noon on April 21 1881. There were thirty persons present.

In 1887 Mr. H Chenevix J.P. became Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the I.B.K.A. and continued in that position for a period of thirteen years. He was mainly responsible for its continued progress. He introduced a monthly circular of notes and hints, which was supplied free to all members. The I.B.K.A. was now well on it’s way to maturity.

The 1881 Land Act gave much assistance to the majority of Irish tenant farmers but it did not improve the plight of small farmers in the west of Ireland.

Eventually the British Government established the Congested Districts Board in 1891. It decided to provide this board with adequate sources of revenue. The idea was to give the families in the poor law electoral divisions of counties Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, and West Cork, a better reward for their labour.

The board continued its activities for a period of thirteen years from 1891 to 1904 when it was taken over by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.

In its first annual report for the year 1892, laid before the House of Commons on February 24 1893, it was recommended that beekeeping be included in the board’s work in future, as it deserved encouragement.

The secretary of the board immediately appointed Mr Turlough O’Bryen to be instructor in beekeeping covering the respective area. He proved to be an outstanding success in this assignment and remained in the post until 1924.

In 1894 a special committee under the technical advisor, Mr C.N. Abbott, designed a hive, at the office of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, to suit the requirements of the congested districts board.

It was a tremendous success and became known as the Congested Districts Board hive (C.D.B.). The Abbott Brothers, 23 Merchants Quay, Dublin, supplied approximately one thousand of these hives to the board. It was the first standardised beehive to be put on the market in these islands. It was an outstanding hive for the production of section honey.

1897 American Foulbrood outbreak

This disease is as old as time. Aristotle described it as an inertness, which seized the bees and caused a bad smell in the hive. Von Schirach in 1769 was the first authority to give the disease the name of Foulbrood.

It was the introduction of the movable frame hive that showed up its existence in Ireland. It did not readily appear in skep beekeeping as the bees in the skep were destroyed on a regular basis and the honeycombs were all removed.

1901 Cork Beekeeping Association founded

The initial meeting was held at the Assembly Rooms, South Mall on July 5 1901. Mr William Deely, Whites Cross was elected Hon. Secretary, and the Chairman was Mr. R.M. Martin, V.P.

The Cork Exhibition 1902

This was an agricultural exhibition and the members of the newly formed Cork Beekeepers’ Association played their part in urging the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction to erect a large straw skep focusing public attention on the beekeeping craft.

The skep was twenty feet high. It was constructed with straw ropes wrapped around a frame of timber covered with canvas and felt. The D.A.T.I. flagpole was placed on top.

Inside it had three circular shelves on which exhibits of honey and beeswax were accommodated. In addition a wide shelf was placed around the perimeter to provide for the display of hives and other beekeeping appliances. This was the largest exhibition of the beekeeping craft ever seen in Ireland. There were exhibits on display from all thirty-two counties. The exhibition lasted from May to November 1902.

1904 The Irish Bee Guide Published

The author of this Bee Guide was Rev. J.G. Digges MA and he also wrote the revised edition ‘The Practical Bee Guide’. It ran into sixteen editions, totalling seventy-six thousand books published.

In an obituary on his death in 1933, the great English commercial beekeeper and author of three books on the craft, R.O.B. Manley, stated, “It was a beautifully written book judged merely as a book of literature. In addition to this, it is undoubtedly by far the best of the general guides to beekeeping published in the British Isles.” Its sales are sufficient evidence of the truth of this statement. Rev. Digges also published The Irish Bee Journal that continued until his death.

1907 Special Course in Beekeeping at Albert Agricultural College

This special course in beekeeping for horticultural instructors was arranged between the department of agriculture and the county committees of agriculture with whom the instructors were employed.

There was a full attendance of the required instructors at the course, at the end of which a stiff examination was held. Following this course every county committee of agriculture in Ireland had qualified instructors in horticulture capable of giving instruction in the beekeeping craft.

1908 The Bee Pest (Ireland) Bill

This Bill was introduced in the House of Commons by Mr. T.N. Russell vice-president D.A.T.I. on June 18 1908. Second reading July 10, third reading July 13 passed through the House of Lords, received Royal assent and became law in Ireland.

1912 Discovery of Isle of Wight disease (Acarine) in County Dublin

Mr. T O’Bryen, Beekeeping inspector, on the instruction of the Department of Agriculture visited the apiary of Mr. Wm. Scaly Gossett, Woodlands, Rochestown Avenue, Blackrock, Co.Dublin and took samples. Within a couple of days a bacteriological examination had been made and it was confirmed to be Isle of Wight disease. It was believed that the disease was introduced into Ireland by means of second-hand appliances from a diseased district in England.

A sub-committee was appointed by the I.B.K.A. to co-operate with the Department of Agriculture in handling the situation. It was too late to contain the outbreak because within the week a second outbreak was discovered at Mr. McDonalds apiary at 1 Burdett Avenue, Off Sandycove Rd., Dunlaoghaire.

The introduction of the I.O.W. (Acarine) was catastrophic, both for the Irish beekeepers and their organisation. D.A.T.I. had no statutory powers to deal with any bee disease except Foulbrood.

The Acarine increased rapidly. Thirty-nine cases were reported in 1912/13. By the years 1924/25 it was so prevalent in some counties that it resulted in a complete loss of all bee stocks.

As a result of this degeneration some county committees, especially County Wexford, decided to import Dutch bees which, according to the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, were free from the disease. In some cases they proved not to be immune. It was discovered that where Dutch Bees were crossed with the native black bee larger numbers of stocks survived.

The infestation continued to increase, being very prevalent from 1924 to 1927, and then a virulent form of the infestation appeared. It completely destroyed all stocks in some counties. Restocking with Dutch Bees began in earnest in 1927 when fifteen county committees of Agriculture adopted a scheme for restocking.

April 20th 1939 Committee Meeting

Mr. M.H.Read was in the chair, also present was Miss Morgan, and Mr. M.J. Bruton. The sole business of the meeting was to consider the advisability of winding up the I.B.K.A. It was therefore decided that this matter be placed before the annual general meeting on May 4 1939 and that the ordinary business of the AGM be made contingent on a decision to continue the I.B.K.A.

This was the last meeting recorded in the minute book. So ended the first phase of the I.B.K.A.

The Federation is born

In 1942 Robert N. Tweedy decided to give a series of talks on beekeeping in the Country Shop, St.Stephen’s Green, Dublin as he felt there was a need for a beekeeper’s organisation in Dublin.

These talks were very well attended and as a result twelve of the leading enthusiasts met on 14 January 1943 in the offices of Arthur Ganley, 20 Lincoln Place, Dublin and established an association. R. N. Tweedy was elected Chairman and A. Ganley, Honorary Secretary both pro tem. A week later on 21st January 1943 at the same venue the County Dublin Beekeepers’ Association was formally launched.

As time went by the membership gradually increased to over two hundred and as a result two other branch associations, Mount Merrion and Balbriggan, were formed.

A short time after this R. N. Tweedy suggested that an effort be made to contact any other beekeepers’ associations, which may be still functioning throughout the country including the six counties of Northern Ireland, with a view to forming an all Ireland body.

These associations were located with the assistance of the County Committees of Agriculture and were invited to assist in forming a Federation.

In June 1943 the honorary secretary of the newly formed Ulster B.K.A. informed the County Dublin B.K.A. that there were 23 local associations in the Six Counties and intimated that they would welcome the setting up of an All Ireland Federation. However, when this body was formed they did not associate themselves with it.

On the 9th of August 1943 the officers of the County Dublin B.K.A. with Miss E. Thompson, Dr. W. Sexton and Mr. E. Lemass were constituted a Federation Sub-Committee with power to inaugurate an All Ireland body.

After a lot of effort the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations was duly established on St.Patrick’s Day, 1944 at 20 Lincoln Place, Dublin. Such was the birth of the present Federation of Irish beekeepers’ Associations and it has stood the test of time right down to the present day with a membership of approximately 3000.

The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations is an association of the Beekeepers Associations in Ireland. Any Association of Beekeepers in Ireland may be affiliated to the Federation on acceptance of the Constitution of the Federation.

The Federation’s main objectives are to unite the Beekeepers of Ireland for their mutual benefit and to encourage and participate in research in problems of Apiculture and generally to foster efficient beekeeping, honey production and marketing.

To co-operate with the State and Public Authorities in all matters affecting the industry and to provide helpful educational facilities through:

  • The publication of An Beachaire (The Irish Beekeeper)
  • The publication of informative leaflets
  • The promoting and holding of community lectures
  • Conducting examinations in the science of apiculture and the art of beekeeping.

In general, to undertake all measures to promote the welfare of beekeeping and Beekeepers in Ireland.

To promote the conservation of the native dark bee, apis mellifera mellifera.

The Annual General Meeting takes place each year on the Wednesday of the Gormanston week and the Officers and Delegates are elected for the coming year from a list of nominees submitted by the local associations beforehand.

The Executive Council meets four times each year e.g. at Gormanston on the Thursday evening of the Summer Course week; in October/November; in February; and in May/June.

The Executive Council Committee (consisting of the President, Secretary, Treasurer and four elected members) is set up at the first Executive Council Meeting.

It meets on three occasions during the year a few weeks before the date of each Council meeting with the exception of the one held at Gormanston. Its function is to discuss all current matters and make recommendations to the next Council meeting for approval or otherwise.

The Annual Summer Course at Gormanston College, Co.Meath is the highlight of the year’s programme. Details can be found elsewhere on the website.

Two Honey Shows are held each year, one at Fota on the first weekend in October and the other at the summer course in Gormanston. Entry of exhibits for each show is open to all who wish to do so and excellent prizes are awarded for the winning entries.

The Federation also sets up a tent at the National Ploughing Championships venue each year at which it promotes Beekeeping, Honey and other Hive Products. This is held in September and attracts a huge attendance from all over Ireland and abroad during its three days.

Members from the Irish Beekeeping fraternity attend the Ulster Beekeepers’ Associations annual conference at Greenmount Agriculture College, Antrim each year in the Spring and the British Beekeepers’ Associations annual conference at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire in April.

These two neighbouring events provide the opportunities to advertise our Summer Course and our national magazine, An Beachaire.

A stand is also manned at the Dublin Horse Show in August each year.

FIBKA is not-for-profit federation of beekeeping Associations in Ireland. Currently, there are 48 affiliated Associations, which between them have over 2,800 members. FIBKA acts as an umbrella organisation, providing unity and strength in numbers in its promotion of the interests of bees, beekeepers and beekeeping in Ireland.
Included in the annual affiliation fee, no extra cost to members:

  • A most comprehensive insurance package to cover your beekeeping activities at your own apiary or anywhere else in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Monthly magazine An Beachaire delivered to your door, with back issues available on the website. Articles relevant to Irish beekeepers operating in Irish conditions. Contributions from members always welcome. The Journal is now in its 71st year serving the beekeepers of Ireland for generations. Sponsored prizes for annual photographic competition.
  • Website and Facebook page
  • Panel of Certified Federation Lecturers (CFLs), including many who hold a diploma in Apiculture {NatDipSc (Apic)} from Cork Institute of Technology. FIBKA covers mileage costs of CFLs travelling to lecture to local Associations in order to reduce the cost to the Associations. This is especially beneficial to new, small or remote Associations with no CFLs amongst their own members.
  • Annual Congress with each affiliated Association entitled to send delegates as per FIBKA Constitution. Associations can submit motions for consideration at Congress and can nominate candidates for election to Executive Council at Congress.
  • Organising Bee Health Workshops for the benefit of our members throughout the country.
  • Annual National Honey Shows at Gormanston and at Fota. FIBKA covers mileage costs of Honey Judges to attend these Shows and other Honey Shows recognised by FIBKA.
  • Promotion and lobbying on behalf of beekeepers with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine (DAFM) to promote the good health of bees and the interests of beekeepers.
  • Negotiation with Coillte regarding standard terms and conditions for apiary sites for beekeepers
  • Working with DAFM in securing EU funding for beekeeping. To date we have secured €1.4m under the Apicultural programme for Irish Beekeeping.
  • Working with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in preventing fraud and misinformation on honey in the market place.
  • Working closely with Bord Bia in the promotion of Irish honey, Bord Bia are generous sponsors of our National Honey Show since 1999.
  • Working closely with the Office of Public Works (OPW) in promoting beekeeping in the Phoenix Park, the Botanic Gardens and other OPW properties. The OPW Phoenix Park Honey Show now in its third year is one of the leading shows in the county with easy access to one third of the population of the Republic. In 2018 it is planned to expand the event to include a Honey Festival.
  • Working with Teagasc to inform the farming community the importance bees.
  • Working with other environmental bodies to fight Hedgerows Bill and promote environmentally sustainable practice for the benefit of honeybees and other wildlife.
  • FIBKA is a signatory, contributor to and supporter of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan
  • FIBKA is a member of the European Professional Beekeepers Association to be kept informed what is happening at EU level.
  • FIBKA is a member of the Council of National Beekeeping Associations in the United Kingdom and Ireland (CONBA). Through this body we have a voice in Brussels with a representative attending meetings there where many decisions affecting beekeeping are made.
  • FIBKA is a member of Apimonida the worldwide body of beekeepers. This entitles our members who wish to attend the Apimondia Conference held every 2 years to a reduced registration fee. We are proud that the
  • Corporate members of the National Honey Show U.K. Supporting Irish exhibitors who wish to send exhibits to this World Class International Event, a great shop window for Irish Honey.
  • Sponsorship of three young beekeepers to attend the International Meeting of Young Beekeepers (IMYB) each year, by paying the registration fee and contributing towards travel and accommodation costs.
  • Comprehensive Library of Beekeeping Books and Videos. Books and videos on loan free, borrower pays return postage. Our Library contains some rare out of print books that can be made available to students of research or other interested parties.
  • Our archives contain some valuable documents illustrating the history of our organisation since its foundation in April 1881. Included are bound volumes of the Irish Bee Journal (IBJ) published by the father of Irish Beekeeping Rev J.G. Digges from 1901 to 1933 and its successor An Beachaire published from 1947 to date. All this material is available to students of history and researchers.
  • FIBKA is a book publisher. Some years ago we, jointly with Teagasc, published the recent update of “The Blueprint for Profitable Honey Production”. We reprinted “Practical Bee guide” by J.G. Digges in 2000. We also published “Bees, Hives and Honey”, edited by Eddie O’Sullivan and John McMullan’s book “Having Healthy Bees”. Most recently “Gormanston: The Summer Course in Beekeeping” by James Ryan.
  • Arbour Week – week following first Sunday in March. FIBKA are founding members of the Tree Council of Ireland, actively promoting the planting of pollen and nectar bearing tree which are made available yearly to our members free of charge.
  • A FIBKA stand promoting beekeeping and Irish Honey at most of the large public events such as The National Ploughing Championships, Bord Bia Bloom in the Park, The RDS Horse Show, Tullamore Agricultural Show amongst others.

Available to affiliated members at reduced / low cost:

  • Annual Summer Course at Gormanston College internationally renowned throughout the beekeeping world. A full week of lectures, fun, trade stands and bee-talk. Options to stay on site for the week or part week, or come as a day-visitor. All examinations available from the Preliminary to Honey Judges and Certified Federation Lectureship. This event has been held continuously since 1947 which is unique in the beekeeping world. Because of its international dimension we are able to acquire and share beekeeping knowledge from many other regions of the world.
  • Full Education programme, from Preliminary exams, through Intermediate, BeeMaster, Senior, CFL and Honey Judge qualifications.
  • Subject to availability, books published by FIBKA books are available at reduced cost to affiliated Associations.
  • Arrangement with suppliers of Sugar to affiliated Associations, for bee feeding, at cost price.
  • Tamper-proof bar-coded labels (as required by many retail outlets) at cost price. Your own unique bar code for each of your products
  • A honey jar lid incorporating the Federation Logo printed in colour and also the words “Irish Honey Direct from the Beekeeper” is available from Alpack Ltd to our members to fit the eight and twelve ounce jars. This lid has come to be accepted by many as proof that the jar contains good quality Irish honey.

Coming soon / in development:

  • FIBKA honey jars with distinctive design, full traceability and guarantee to customer of genuine 100% Irish beekeeper’s honey, will command a premium price for all your hard work.


The Chairman is responsible for the smooth working of the Association and should promote the aims of the Federation.

  • He/she should have a pleasing personality and a sympathetic understanding of other people’s viewpoints
  • have the skill to decide when to speak and when to keep silent
  • though in command of the proceedings he/she has got to resist the temptation to dictate
  • should encourage discussion to ensure that the minority viewpoint gets as much attention as the majority viewpoint
  • should ensure the meetings are conducted in an orderly fashion and kept within a time limit.
  • shall take the chair at all Association meetings; if unable to do so, he/she will delegate that duty to the Vice-Chairman.

The Chairperson will have a casting vote in addition to his/her ordinary vote should voting be equal in any division.


The Secretary’s duties include:

  • Attendance at all Association Meetings.
  • Recording the Minutes of Committee Meetings and the Annual General Meeting.

Before each meeting he/she should:

  • Draw up agenda in consultation with Chairman.
  • Check meeting venue.
  • Notify members in good time. (Usually a minimum of 7 days).
  • On meeting night, arrive in good time at venue.
  • Read to the meeting, minutes of previous meeting.
  • Read relevant sections of correspondence.
  • Record accurately and briefly the minutes of each meeting.
  • After each meeting, write minutes in minute book.
  • Answer correspondence immediately.
  • Notify Treasurer of any expenses.
  • Get feedback from members and inform Chairman.
  • Check on forthcoming events.
  • After AGM notify any change of Officers to Secretary, FIBKA & check your associations contact details on the website are correct.


Is responsible for all funds received and disbursed on behalf of the Association together with the keeping of records and accounts in respect thereof.

He/she should:

  • Provide the Federation Treasurer with a listing of all paid-up members submitted on an excel sheet, name & correct postal address ( a typical excel spread sheet is available from the FIBKA treasurer) & accompanied by cheque for affiliation fees.
  • Receipts should be issued for all funds received; this is particularly important in the case of the membership subscription, as a member is considered to be insured from the time that the subscription has been paid and a receipt has been issued for it.

It is recommended that the membership subscription should be set at a level sufficient to cover the cost of:

  • Association administration expenses.
  • Affiliation fee.

Members should be encouraged to pay.

The Treasurer should forward the insurance and affiliation fees to the Federation Treasurer as soon as practicable after collection.

Please note that the FIBKA affiliation runs from:
1 Jan to 31 December.

Any body or association not paid up on the 1st Jan is not covered until the FIBKA Treasurer receives the payment. Your subscription still runs out on the
31st of December.

The Executive Council of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations recognizes that child protection and welfare considerations must be reflected in the organisation’s policies, practices and activities. Accordingly and in line with the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children the Executive Council of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations has agreed the following child protection policy:

  1. The Executive Council acknowledges the principles of good practice for the Protection of Children and Young People as outlined in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs guideline ‘Our Duty to Care Document’ for Voluntary Organisations.
  2. The designated Liaison Person (DLP) is: Stuart Hayes
  3. The Deputy Designated Liaison Person (Deputy DLP) is: Michelle O’Connor
  4. In its policies, practices and activities, The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations will adhere to the following principles of best practice in child protection and welfare:

The EC on behalf of the organization and its membership will:

  • Recognise that the protection and welfare of children is of paramount importance regardless of all other considerations;
  • Fully co-operate with the relevant statutory authorities in relation to child protection and welfare matters;
  • Adopt safe practices to minimize the possibility of harm or accidents happening to children and protect workers from the necessity to take unnecessary risks that may leave themselves open to accusation of abuse or neglect;
  • Develop a practice of openness with parents and encourage parental involvement in the education of their children; and
  • Fully respect confidentiality requirements in dealing with child protection matters.
  1. The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations “Code of Behaviour” was reviewed and ratified by the EC on 28th January 2017 and will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
  2. This Policy will be readily accessible through the Federation’s website.

This policy was adopted by resolution of the Executive Council of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations on 22nd April 2017


Gerry Ryan

President, The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations

Tom Shaw

Hon. Secretary, The Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations

Reviewed and Updated by the Board of FIBKA clg on 18th November 2020

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