In 1998, when the Varroa mite first appeared in Ireland, the Dep. of Agriculture made an unfortunately unsuccessful attempt to eradicate the parasite. The approximately 340 colonies present at the time in the Sligo/Manorhamilton area were destroyed. Consequently, due to the impossibility of any kind of treatment, all wild colonies of bees died. No hybrids or bees of any race where left and a ban was imposed on beekeeping. The now completely bee-less area could be restocked with bees from Co. Wexford after the ban was lifted in early 1999. Later in the year a German beekeeper gave us six Buckfast queens, which served as the basis of our now well established breeding programme.
Since then we positioned apiaries of Buckfast colonies at the outer entrances to the Five Glens or got into contact with beekeepers based in the areas and convinced them of the benefits of keeping Buckfast bees. In this way we were able to establish a drone belt around Shanvaus Apiary facilitating a controlled open mating.
We are aware that the superb results we achieved were greatly assisted by the topographic structure of North Leitrim, the lovely part of Ireland we have the privilege to live in.