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Origin of the Buckfast Strain
— According to a Brother Adam’s typewrited document —
1915 : The last season colonies of the former native honeybee
existed in this neighbourhood before its final extermination by the
Isle of Wight epidemic. In the autumn, the county bee-keeping officer predicted that by next spring we would have no bees left.
Of the 46 colonies we possessed only 16 survived the following winter.
Those that survived were either pure Ligurian or of Ligurian origin.
1916 : These 16 colonies were increased to 46, with the help of imported
No trace of any disease could be observed after the demise of the Native
1917 : In response to a request by the Government we increased our colonies to one-hundred. The needed queens were raised from stock that survived
the winter 1915 – 1916.
1918 – 1919 : During these two years hundreds of nuclei were sent out
to all parts of the British Isles, to make good the losses caused by the
Isle of Wight epidemic.
The required queens were raised from stock that survived the epidemic.
Among the queens raised in 1919 was one that embodied all the desirable
qualities of the Ligurian and former Native in an ideal combination.
Indeed this particular queen was duly registered as Breeder No. B-1 and
the progenitor of the present-day strain.
1920 : Close on hundred daughters of breeder No. B-1 were raised in 1920.
Also a similar number of an imported queen from Nicosia, Cyprus.
1921 : Daughters of breeder No. B-1 surpassed all expectation in 1921.
1922 : Two daughters of breeder No. B-1 were used as breeders in 1922. As would
happen one – No. B-2 – proved exceptionally resistant to Acarine;
her sister, No. B-3, extremely susceptible. Indeed so much so that hardly
any colonies headed by her daughters survived the winter 1922 – 1923.
1923 – 1924 : Used breeder No. B-2 almost exclusively during these two years.
However in 1924 a limited number were raised from a breeder W. Herrod-Hempsall
brought back from the U.S.A. in 1923. This strain was reputed to be superior
to any other in North America.
1925 : Breeder No. B-4 = .24 – B-2 x ?
Breeder HH = .24 – HH x ?
Drones : Daughters of breeder No. B-2 ; GP.= .19 – No. B-1. x N.N.
1926 : Breeder No. B-4 = .25 – B-4 x B-2
Breeder No. HH = .25 – HH x B-2
Drones : Daughters of breeder No. B-4 ; GP.= .24 – No. B-2 x N.N.
1927 – 1928 : Breeder No. B-278 = .25 – No. B-4 x B-2
Drones : Daughters of breeder No. B-4 ; GP.= .25 – No. B-4 x B-2
The Mating Station was established on June 1st 1925.
All the queens prior to 1925 were mated at random.
Breeder No. B-3, whose progeny proved so extremely susceptible to Acarine;
was immediately eliminated.
So also all HH queens subsequent to 1926. Their extraordinary susceptibility
was reconfirmed in 1959, following a further importation of queens of this
same strain from the U.S.A. in 1958.
The breeders used during this initial period, that did not prove of any
special value or interest, are not recorded.