Buckfast Breeding

What Are Buckfast Bees?

Buckfast bees are a strain of honey bee that was developed through a breeding program by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey in England. They are highly resistant to the bee parasite Acarapis woodi or tracheal mite. This parasite blocks oxygen flow in the spiracles of the bees which can cause devastating colony loss. In addition, the bees are bred for calmness, low tendency to swarm, gentle behaviour and high honey production.

Buckfast Mating Stations

The Honey Bee Research Centre follows the same breeding program developed by Brother Adam. There are two isolated queen mating stations for producing Buckfast queens on islands in Lake Simcoe. These islands, Georgina and Thorah Island, are far enough away from the mainland that the HBRC queens can only mate with selected HBRC drone lines which express desirable traits. Approximately 100 mating nucleus colonies are brought to the islands each year. Queen cells are introduced to the mating ‘nucs’ and mated queens are harvested on a two week cycle. These queens are then used to re-queen HBRC colonies or sold to beekeepers.

Tour Of Thorah Island Queen Mating Station

The HBRC team travels to Thorah Island to the Buckfast queen mating station. Paul Kelly, research and apiary manager, is the main speaker. He is joined by David Stotesbury, research and apiary assistant, and other volunteers.


Other helpful links:

  1. Breeding bees at Buckfast Abbey
  2. History of Buckfast Bees in Ontario
  3. Purchase Ontario Buckfast Queens
  4. Buckfast Breeding Presentation