Monday, 23 April 2018

Newsletter April 2018

Dear Beekeeper

Our speaker last month from Bees Abroad, Stuart Andrews, was delighted with your generosity after his interesting talk on beekeeping in Uganda and the charity's work to support this.

In the apiary:
At last you should have opened up your hives & discovered what has gone on.
I am aware of several who have had a nasty surprise, discovering that their colony which appeared to be fine in February/March has dwindled & died. Please let me know if you will be looking for bees/swarms this spring – we may be able to help. A couple of members have rejoined the swarm collecting list.

Oil seed rape flowers are almost out, later than usual, I hope you were able to follow Pam Hunter’s advice to build the colonies up before the rape becomes available.
Only one of my now 5 colonies listened to me…….

Old, dirty or damaged frames should be moved to the back of the colonies to be replaced, 3 a season is a minimum. If they contain brood, move just a step backwards, never split the brood nest.
Remember that bees need ample space to store & process nectar, it takes up less room once it becomes honey, legally below 20% water content.

Kent Bee Health Day:
Well done to all who signed up for the Bee Health Day at East Malling on Saturday April 28th.
The places are now sold out.
This popular and useful event has meant we are moving our April apiary meeting to
SUNDAY April 29th at the usual time of 2:30 pm at Eythorne. More below.

Wednesday evenings at Eythorne apiary:

Dick & Peter were very glad of the help given last month to remount the hives on more solid bases & in better positions. Many thanks to the hard working team!
Now the weather is better, they will be starting the Wednesday sessions at Eythorne at 6:30 pm, for beginners & experienced helpers to provide hands-on experience in a small group.

There are always tasks to do & you will be welcome.
Check Dick’s blog at
Hope the link gets you there!

This month’s meeting: 

SUNDAY 29th April at our Eythorne Apiary, at Eythorne Court, Shepherdswell Road, Eythorne CT14 4AD 2:30 p.m.
It is along Shepherdswell Road, near Eythorne as you head towards Shepherdswell, on the left, near a black wooden building. We park in the next field. If you are a new member or visitor, please make yourself known, we get busy!

Mary will work with beginners, & other pairs will demonstrate at the club’s hives, the hives will be assessed as to their quality & temperament by criteria which Dick will be explaining. The progress of colonies can be compared with your own. Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. We have suits to borrow for beginners & observers.

Return your Library books & choose another!
Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. Bring your own mugs!!!!

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Newsletter March 2018

Dear Beekeeper

Another well-attended meeting last month. Andy Willis explained very clearly how to turn wax scrapings, combs, meltings & cappings into beautiful candles & blocks. His processing was lengthy & detailed, but produced wonderful prize-winning results with spotless wax.

Lots of space needed & the patience of other kitchen users could be tested. We all need a honey house or well-appointed shed! He was delighted that the audience was so sizeable.

In the Apiary:
March is the most risky time for our colonies, they may have eaten their stores, and this winter has been long, cold & wet with some severe cold snaps. And it's not over yet!
So feed your colonies with 1:1 syrup [1 pound white sugar to 1 pint water approx; or 1kg to 1litre] for their immediate use & to boost the queen laying. Remember a large body of bees will be needed for the rape crop. Keep the feeder topped up until nectar comes in.

Sadly, I have lost a colony - my first winter loss for 5 years. So please look after yours which are alive.
Close up & clean out any losses, scrape & torch the boxes & melt the solid honey remaining; save any good brood combs for nucs.

This month’s meeting:  

Saturday 31st March at Alkham Village Hall CT15 7BU 2:30 p.m.
Our speaker is Stuart Andrews, a national speaker representing Bees Abroad.
He will share insights into the lives of African beekeepers.
For some families it can be a way out of rural poverty & provide a family income.
It can also be the source of employment for workers & apprentices in honey processing & making wax products.
Come & find out more!

Tea [£1] and raffle [£1] as usual.

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes


Thursday, 22 February 2018

Newsletter February 2018

Dear Beekeeper

A super meeting last month, with over 70 attendees.
Pam Hunter gave a really useful summary of the benefits of oilseed rape crops to bees. Get feeding for the rape crop is her advice - large colonies will be more productive.
Pam is now our Link Trustee with the BBKA, a lucky coincidence that she was our first 2018 speaker.

Bees are starting to become more lively in between the downpours, so keep checking for hive weight & add syrup now if needed. I moved a hive this week to a new site, a cold, calm day was ideal, the bees were inactive & settled quickly in a new spot.

This is the time to plan which colonies will be your source for the queens to head the nucs you’ll make this year. Choose well-tempered, thrifty colonies to increase the stock.

I circulated you with details of the Bees for Development monthly giveaway. Well, Julie Scott, from Swingfield, a DDBKA member, won the prize! A Thorne hive, ready assembled, worth £400. WOW! Well done Julie.
Definitely worth a try!

Neonicotinoid pesticide residue in honey
Early in 2016 I answered a request in BeeCraft for samples of honey to be tested for neonics. I have just got the result.                                                                                                               
The honey I sent was 2015 which was the first year after neonics were banned for use with OSR although it is still allowed for some crops such as wheat. The results from 2014, i.e before the ban, showed that about 50% of honey had neonic residue in it. This was down to 20% from the 2015 samples. I was one of the 20% with 0.6 parts per billion of Clothianidin but neither of the other two.
One of the theories as to why this was happening was that when neonics are used as a seed dressing with wheat, only about 25% is used by the crop the rest may stay in the soil. So if a crop of OSR follows the wheat it could take up some of the residue from the soil. Another possibility is that wild flowers may absorb some from soil blown onto the headlands.
I am sending off some samples from 2017 when the research team is going to also analyse the honey to find out which plants the bees have been visiting. From the map of contributors to this work I note that there are probably two from Dover and one from Thanet. I should be interested to learn their results if they contact me.
If you are interested in joining the scheme, look on the website
This month’s meeting 
Saturday 24th February at Alkham Village Hall   CT15 7BU    2:30 p.m.
Our speaker is Andy Willis, very well-known as a national speaker.
He will be speaking on one of the things bees make, wax.
He made these lovely candles from wax given by many British BKAs as the BBKA’s gift on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
He knows all there is to know about harvesting, cleaning & refining beeswax.
See BBKA News  December 2012.
Please pay your subs at the meeting if you have not done it before, remember to use a sealed envelope with your name on it for your form & money, it can get confusing! Philip will not be at the meeting. Your subscription pays for the monthly magazine, insurances, newsletter & speakers.
Tea [£1] and raffle as usual.
I hope you will be able to come along.
Best wishes.



Thursday, 25 January 2018

Newsletter January 2018

Dear Beekeeper

Note the new Queen colour marking (red) for 2018. Looking forward to a successful season.

Already hazel catkins are yielding pollen & it won’t be long before snowdrops & crocus offer rich pollen for early foraging bees.

There is little to do in the hives; check for wind/woodpecker damage, keep entrances clear & that hives are weather-tight; it has been exceedingly wet! Treatments need to be done when the weather is calm & cold, with as little brood as possible in the hive. 

Hives are probably still pretty heavy with winter stores, but as the days lengthen & the Q starts laying the bees will move more, eat more and you must be alert to changes in weight when you heft the hives from the back. If light, then feed fondant.

SE Regional Report:
I have attached the SE Regional report, available HERE. A very interesting summary of our year and our region, featuring the territories covered by the inspectors, imports of foreign bees, plus spread of Asian hornets & Small Hive beetles in France & Italy respectively, with advice on how to combat them.
Closer to home you can read of AFB & EFB outbreaks, especially the EFB we had to put up with last summer & hope to have seen the back of for 2018.
Honey yields for the year are also covered.

Meetings Schedule:

Available under the Meetings tab is our meeting schedule for 2018, a busy year planned, with a different slant to the monthly meetings as you will see.
Dick & Peter [apiary managers] will do most routine inspections at the Wednesday evening sessions, as they wish to focus more closely on various aspects of bee improvement through the year. So it should provide opportunities to learn. 
The winter speakers will also shine light on bee husbandry too.
Thanks to Mick Delieu for volunteering his apiary for a summer visit, a 400 acre site, lucky bees!

BBKA Website:

When logging on to the BBKA website you should notice changes/improvements as it has been revamped from the 15th January. Perhaps easier to navigate now? Always awkward before!
They will be taking bookings for the 2018 Spring convention.

Membership Fees:

Thanks to all who have paid the membership fees to join us & also be registered with BBKA, vital for insurances. The membership form is available HERE, and under the Downloads tab, as there have been several enquiries from possible new beekeepers.

We still have 2 loan hives to pass on to beginners for their first year to save some of the expense of starting out as a beekeeper.
Let me know if that’s you.

Swarm collectors still needed too, especially in the Dover area!

This month’s meeting: 
Saturday 27th January at Alkham Village Hall CT15 7BU 2:30 p.m.

Our speaker is Pam Hunter, Master Beekeeper, very well-known as a national speaker & examiner. She will be speaking on one of the things bees collect & its uses, very widespread in these parts, oil seed rape, its history in Britain & benefits for beekeepers, loved by bees for pollen & nectar, our first honey crop of the year. We can learn to love it too. Don’t miss it!

Please pay your subs at the meeting if you have not done it before, remember to use a sealed envelope with your name on it for your form & money, it can get confusing! Please remember to fill in the back of the form. 
Your subscription includes BBKA membership and pays for the monthly magazine, insurances, newsletter & speakers.

Tea [£1] and raffle as usual 

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes


Newsletter December 2017

Dear Beekeeper
After a couple of frosty mornings, the weather has been relatively cold but wet; bees eating their stores. So add fondant to the hives if they feel lighter when hefted, put it over the feedhole in the crown board as a precaution. A starving hive is a sad, unnecessary sight.
Fondant can be purchased in pouches from the usual bee equipment suppliers or by prior arrangement from: Vanes bakers, 120 High St Dover 01304 206325; Elizabeth’s Bakeries, 59 Cheriton High Street Folkestone 01303 275576. Ring first; it is usually sold in 12.5 kg boxes. Heavy, but it keeps well if cool & wrapped. Also available online from Bako, or make your own, as I do!
Candy Recipe [there are lots of variations] increase quantities as desired:
  • 200ml water, 1000g [1kg] white sugar, 1 teasp glycerine [from baking section in shops].
  • Boil all together, stirring, for 3 minutes. Cool slightly over cold water.
  • Then beat or stir rapidly. As it turns opaque, pour quickly into transparent plastic containers e.g. “take away” ones. It sets fast!
  • To use: Invert over the feed hole in the crownboard. Easy to see how much they have taken & when a replacement is needed. Keeps well. 
Good health & have a very merry Christmas!
Best wishes

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Newsletter Nov 2017

Dear Beekeeper

Thanks to all who entered & attended the Honey Show at Shepherdswell last month.
Chris has sent a note appreciation & a list of the 2017 results to members with the emailed Newsletter. A great turnout for the new venue, considering the weather, but we need more set honey entries next year, please - more everything really!

Winter approaches. Your bees, which worked so hard for you in the summer, should now be well-fed & tucked up in their hives with a mouseguard or low entrance at the front & protection from woodpeckers around the exposed woodwork [or polystyrene - vulnerable too!]

Check every so often that your hives are safe from strong winds, animals, vandalism, etc and that entrances are clear. Otherwise, they should be left alone till you decide on a varroa treatment in early January. That will give an opportunity to briefly check that the bee cluster has accessible food. 

Thank you:
DDBKA owes a vote of thanks to Allyn Thomas who has re-roofed the apiary shed & fitted it with gutters & a water butt. It should now be serviceable for another few years. Well done!

Annual General Meeting
The year draws to a close & it’s time for the AGM.
Members will have received with the Newsletter the minutes of the 2016 AGM and an agenda, plus the accounts from the Hon Treasurer.

All the association offices will be up for election at the AGM.
It is important to broaden the pool of members willing to take on responsibilities, so please, if you're a member of DDBKA, do not be shy about standing - your contribution is needed.
But please note: Only Registered members can be nominated & hold offices.

If nominating some-one, please check in advance whether your nominee is willing to stand.
Each nominee needs a proposer and seconder.
You can nominate yourself if you wish to take a role, but still need a proposer and seconder. Associate members may nominate and vote, but cannot stand.
Please phone or email nominations to the Hon Secretary before the AGM as she will need to prepare ballot papers in the case of any contested elections.
Most post holders are willing to stand this time, but that doesn’t prevent posts being contested.
As you see, we need a Vice Chair; Jean stepped in & served well for 2 years, many thanks to her.

Think of a member who gives regular help to DDBKA, maybe with catering, demonstrating, mentoring, giving advice, helping at the apiary etc. Ask if they’d like to join the committee, get them nominated!

Current holder
Dick Bunting
willing to stand again
Vice Chair
Jean Mozley
Secretary & Membership Secretary
Maggie Harrowell
willing to stand again
Philip Nicholson
willing to stand again
Show Secretary
Chris Holdstock
willing to stand again
Examinations  Secretary
Jackie Thomas
willing to stand again
Training Secretary
Mary Hill
willing to stand again
Peter Crow
willing to stand again

Consider also if you might like to become a mentor to a beginner,  loan a hive as a beginner [only 2 left!], host a summer meeting, go on the 2018 swarm collectors list.

This month’s meeting – the last of the year

Saturday 25th November at 2:30 p.m. at Alkham Village Hall CT15 7BU

·         Any outstanding library books to be returned please.

·          Tea [£1] and raffle as usual.

·          Following requests from members, we will have a small sale table at indoor meetings. Bring along any redundant/surplus equipment you’d like to sell or pass on to others.

·         Please try to bring a small contribution to the refreshments to give an early festive feel.

Hope to see you there,
Best wishes,