Bishops Bees Honeybee Farm

Bishops bees are a UK queen breeder with extensive knowledge and experience in breeding honeybee queens. We are also well practiced in the instrumental insemination of queens, sometimes referred to as artificial insemination. In addition to queens, we also raise nucleus colonies and are one of the few suppliers who will arrange delivery to you.


Our focus on sustainable beekeeping practices, along with our desire to promote this, has led us to offer courses. We offer a range of courses in beekeeping. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced beekeeper, we are sure there is something for you. For individuals who are looking to start keeping bees, our Practical beekeeping – The Basics course is ideal . During this course, you will learn both the theory of beekeeping and get hands on practical experience. For those wishing to learn more about keeping bees,we have you covered. If you’ve only just started keeping bees or have been keeping bees for a while, our Practical beekeeping – Managing hives course is for you.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, or wishing to get into queen rearing and breeding, we have something for you. Our queen rearing and breeding courses and an instrumental insemination course. More experienced beekeepers, or those with a strong drive to learn, will find these courses informative and progressive.

Mating Apiary for Raising Queens and Hives

Want to start beekeeping?

We have put together some information to help you get started.

Whether you are just looking to learn more about honeybees or want to take up beekeeping, we are sure you will find something of interest.

Queen Breeding at Bishops bees

We first started queen breeding due to the lack of UK queen rearers. By focusing on breeding bees within the UK, we are able to produce queens better suited to the British climate. An important part of sustainable beekeeping is the production of queens and colonies in a sustainable manner. Therefore, we have put a lot of effort into breeding queens tolerant of the UK climate to head new colonies. We are continually looking to improve our breeding lines and run a number of breeding programs.

Honeymaker queens

Our honeymaker queens are from productive and easy to work with lines. They were first bred in co-operation with a local commercial farm who wished to move away from imported queens in favor of locally bred queens.

Subsequently, we continued to improve our breeding lines by looking for hygienic traits and good survival. The harsh North Devon weather often provides a good selection pressure. Colonies which maintain good year round stores perform well during poor weather with little need to intervene.

The maintenance of good hygienic traits is a particularly important to us. Because healthy bees crop well and disease resistance is important. We test for both brood hygiene and VSH (Varroa Specific Hygiene). This is to be sure that we don’t accidentally select for one at the expense of the other.

Buckfast queens

Buckfast queens are generally a popular choice for beginners and experienced beekeepers alike. Our buckfast queens are bred here in the UK and undergo the same selection criteria as originally set out by Brother Adam. Therefore, these queens have been a popular choice for many of our customers.

Buckfast queens are renowned for their high productivity and docile nature. They produce large colonies that are easy to work with and produce good honey crops. Consequently, they can require some assistance during long periods of unfavorable weather.

Despite building large colonies, buckfast bees have very low swarming tenancies. As a result, the risk of losing part of the colony to swarming is lower than with other strains. It is because of this and their productivity that they have become firm favorites for many beekeepers.

Instrumental Insemination at Bishops bees

Bishops bees are one of the few honeybee farms within the UK proficient at instrumental insemination (II). This valuable tool allows us to maintain our breeding lines through both the queen and drone lines. In addition to using II to maintain our own queen lines, we also run courses so that others can train. Run over two days, this course includes both the required theory and plenty of practical experience.

The use of instrumental insemination is a recognised and valuable tool in queen breeding. Instrumental insemination is sometimes referred to as artificial insemination of queen bees. We use both single drone insemination (SDI) and multiple drone insemination (MDI). As a Result, we are able to amplifier and then reinforce genetic traits. As a result, we can maintain constancy through the breeding lines. Subsequently, when breeding for traits such as VSH, we are able to secure the genetic trait within a line. For beekeepers looking to introduce II into their breeding program, or to experience it first hand, our instrumental insemination course is ideal.

As we practice II ourselves, we understand the importance of using the right equipment and the difficulty of finding it. Consequently, you can view the large range of equipment we have sourced. We offer everything from the insemination units to microscopes and consumables. This can be a difficult field to get into so if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help, weather with the equipment or II in general. For our range of equipment, please visit our shop. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, just get in touch. We are often able to source additional equipment, such as sterilisers, to order.

Inseminated Queens caged post Insemination
Inseminated Queens caged post Insemination
Instrumental Insemination of a Honeybee Queen
Instrumental Insemination of a Honeybee Queen