‘My name is Keith Rolleston and I am a part-time beekeeper based in County Down, Northern Ireland. My day job is a Company Director involved in the construction industry. I first became interested in beekeeping about 10 years ago, fuelled mostly by my love for local honey. About 5 years ago, I took the plunge, did the preliminary course with Killinchy and District Association and got my first bees, and, I’m delighted to say produced some of my own honey ! Things have progressed and I now have 15 hives on about 75 acres of land in the country at the edge of Strangford Lough. I keep exclusively our dark native Irish bees, a wonderful species ideally suited to our local climate and fauna. A few years ago, I became keen on raising my own queen honey bees and so began my relationship with Brinsea.

Raising queen bees involves creating conditions where the bees will produce numerous queen bees from specific larvae that I graft and introduce into the hive (without the incumbent queen present). It is a time consuming and time critical process but the results in breeding queens from your own stock is a wonderful experience.


Keith Rolleston and his Brinsea Ovation 28 Advance bee incubator

My process involves removing sealed cells from the hive and allowing them to hatch in an incubator, and this is where Brinsea come in ! The development of the larvae require very specific temperature and humidity control if this is to be successful. I first started, and still have, the Octagon 20 incubator but this year, after consultation with Tony Linter of Strangford Incubators who is my local supplier, I purchased the Ovation 28 Advance model. It’s both an ideal size with plenty of space for my needs, but crucially the dual air flow system is wonderful for ensuring an even and consistent temperature throughout the incubator. I maintain the humidity using evaporation pads and the humidity readout facility of this incubator and have found this to be successful and very accurate. The large clear lid means that viewing of the cells without having to actually remove the lid itself is a great design feature. Its easily cleaned and the use of the antimicrobial materials mean I don’t have to worry about microbial growth which would have a very detrimental affect on the developing larvae. I have always found the Brinsea range to be very reliable, parts are easily purchased , there is a very good local support network and the support from Brinsea themselves, especially the very instructive videos, is second to none.

I know I’m probably not the typical Brinsea customer, but id really have no hesitation in recommending their products for all those prospective queen rearers out there !’


Keith Rolleston

You can find follow Keith and his bees on Instagram: @rolleyboy66 or search for Keith Rolleston on Facebook.


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