I’m not long back from the 50th anniversary conference of BIBBA, the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association, held in conjunction with SICAMM, the Societe Internationale per Conservation Apis Mellifera Mellifera (I think!). There were about 200 of us there in the Pafiliwn (Welsh for ‘big tent’) coming from places as far apart as America and Russia, Switzerland and Sweden, about a dozen countries in all.
I knew a lot of the people already as I had met them at Gormanston or at BBKA events. Notable was the lovely Mary Ryan who emphasised the BIB part of the name by wearing different bib each day: Mary, if ye’re reading this, I think ye looked best in the pink gingham one, even though it was a little frayed at the edge!
The Conference ran from Friday morning to Sunday evening. I stayed in my tent at the Abbey Farm camp site about a mile and a half north of the town. As I pitched my tent on the grass next to the river I thought I saw a dipper at work. Somebody told me they’d seen a kingfisher. I wasn’t the only beekeeper there and the first one I saw was Kevin Lincoln, the BIBBA Chairman who has a camper van.
The walk into town was along the main road, sometimes with pavement but often without, so I was glad I had a ‘high vis’ weskit and a torch with me. After a couple of days, however, I discovered an alternative traffic free route using a farm track and the canal bank.
There were three alternative lectures to attend running simultaneously, so one could attend 15 over the three days. The cost of attending the event was £75, which works out at £5 a lecture. I think most of them worth that or more. Organiser, Trisha Marlow asked me on day 2 to provide her with brief notes of about half a dozen lines on each of the lectures I attended so she could work them into something for the bee press. I found that difficult at first, not only reading my own scrawled writing but condensing maybe 3 pages into half a page, so some of the earlier ones were longer than she wanted, but I got the hang of it later.
Besides the formalities, one of the best parts of the event was the ‘craic’ as the Irish put it. A lot of this occurred in the nearest pub as well as over meals, coffee breaks etc. The food was good and ample and I was glad of the exercise at the beginning and end of the day to walk it off! The weather was good, but it got very cold on Friday night, not far above freezing, and I shivered in my sleeping bag, wishing I had brought bedsocks. Nobody knows the throes of those whose toes are froze through lack of hose!