There is a long history of bee keeping and CDB hives in the Neary family, as Peter’s late father, a founder member of Mayo Beekeepers in 1978, got his first colony in the mid 50’s.

Peter completed his academic education in NUIG and as an adult has always been self-employed. This afforded him the opportunity of travel to East Africa where he established a community development, self – empowerment group, in Uganda right on the equator. This project involves bee keeping with Apis mellfiera Scutellata in top bar hives secured in Rwanda. To fund this project Peter travelled to Saudi Arabia, teaching English to young Arab men in what is reputed to be the world’s largest inland oil field at Al Ahasa Eastern Province. While there, he was invited by Dr. Abdulaziz S. Alqarni to the bee keeping research station at King Faisal University in Al Ahsa. He also flew to Najaran on the border with Yemen and witnessed at first hand local traditional Arabic bee keeping using Apis mellifera jemenitica, and tasted the famed honey from the the Sidr tree, also known as Jujube or Christ's Thorn. 

Nearer to home Peter revamped and relaunched the local honey show securing sponsorship and rebranding it as The West Awake Honey Show. It is now rotated among the bee keeping  clubs in Mayo. He is passionate about the introduction of school children to the world of bees, bee keeping and pollination.
 

Helen breeds and supplies bees. Having studied to PhD level, practical training and mentoring as well as study group participation and attending conferences, was prioritised from day one. Helen joined the FIBKA exam committee at national level, and after that the Native Irish Honey Bee Society committee, while studying for the senior cycle exams. With all written exams now complete, Helen is now preparing for the final two exams: microscopy and the senior apiary practical.

A background in microbiology and research has enabled Helen to fast track on topics such as honey bee genetics and diseases, as well as giving demonstrations in microscopy for beekeepers. Other areas of interest include queen rearing and selective breeding, pollen microscopy, the preparation of honey and wax for show, training beginners and the status of wild pollinators in Mayo.

Helen keeps the native black bee in national timber hives, national polystyrene hives as well as CDB hives for the production of section honey. Her queen rearing apiary is on her doorstep, where mating swarms can be heard coming and going on balmy sunny afternoons.  It is overlooked by the Church ruin, Cill Seisnán in the townland of Graffy (which translates as 'low lying scrub vegetation'), an ideal location for the native black bee.  Here, honey bees and wild pollinators thrive on a varied pollen and nectar rich forage, unhindered by intensive farming practices.



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