Monday, 14 August 2017

Newsletter August 2017

Dear Beekeeper

What a strange July meeting! Too wet to bother the bees, yet 55 people turned up to chat, stand in a field or under a gazebo & think about bees. Amazing! Thank you all, especially those who brought food.

A disappointing summer honey crop seems to be my lot, as well as many of you. The dry weeks followed by what we have now, wet, windy & cool, have made the bees stay at home & consume what little they had. 

So the need now is for treatment against varroa mites and making sure the bees are settled for winter. There will probably be an influx of stores in September when ivy flowers come out, much loved by bees for their abundant nectar & pollen.


The National Bee Unit has issued a warning re high varroa mite numbers.
We have Apiguard varroa treatments for DDBKA members @ £1.75 per tray. You need 2 trays per colony, plus an eke or shallow box, so get yours at the August meeting.
This link shows how to apply Apiguard for those who have not used it before:
http://www.vita-europe.com/products/apiguard/#HowtouseApiguard

Don’t forget to put in an insert & count the mite drop weekly & divide the number by 7 to find the daily drop. Over the 4 week period it is reputed to be 93% effective, numbers should decrease after an initial high drop. Clean the insert between monitoring counts.

We also hope to have Ambrosia bee syrup for sale to members at this month's meeting.

Apiary Wednesdays
Dick & Peter’s Wednesday 6:30 pm sessions at our Eythorne out-apiary CT15 4AD are successful & busy, people needing a problem solved, hands-on experience, or some equipment.
Beginner members are especially welcome.
Dick now has a blog which you can check to see if a session may be cancelled due to poor weather, check from 3pm on the day:
http://eythornebees.wordpress.com


This month’s meeting
Saturday 26th August at Steve Boyce’s apiary on Romney Marsh at Marshlands, TN29 0PY.

Steve has now put all his bees into polystyrene hives, a real enthusiast for bee health in these hives. He will convert you, or try to! There is a purpose-built apiary which he has created giving shelter from the marsh winds.

Steve has also arranged a visitor; Kay Wreford [bee inspector] will be there to go through with us what an inspector does & is looking for, when they come & inspect our hives, to make us less nervous!

To get there, consider a car share. The route obviously depends on your starting point, but once you arrive at Marshlands, there is a turning between 40 & 42 which leads to the apiary.
Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. Bring glasses if you wear them! We will have suits to borrow for beginners & observers.

Return your Library books & choose another.

Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. To save a lot of carrying, please can you bring a small contribution of food to share at this meeting, DDBKA can provide tea & coffee. Bring your own mugs!

I hope you come along; it is very useful to see other apiaries.
Best wishes.
Maggie.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Newsletter July 2017

Dear Beekeeper
 
Colonies should now be at their peak numbers to collect nectar for the usual summer flow.
To that end members have been uniting small colonies and spare nucs to achieve a maximum gathering population. 
 
Some of the uniting has been forced due to instances of laying workers or drone-laying queens.
These two problems have the same result if left – a colony full of drones & little else – doomed!
 
Laying workers can develop when a colony has been queenless for over 3 weeks.
Laying workers show multiple eggs in worker cells leading to lumpy, distorted comb. To rectify, shake the entire colony off the combs at a distance from the hive; unite the ones which fly back to a good nuc or small colony.
 
A drone-laying queen is viable, but useless & must be killed & replaced. She may have been poorly mated.
 
Varroa Mite
The National Bee Unit has issued a warning re high varroa mite numbers.
We have purchased Apiguard varroa treatments for DDBKA members @ £1.75 per tray.
You will need 2 trays per colony, so come & get yours at the July meeting.  You will also need an eke or shallow box to allow space for the tray above the brood after you have taken off your honey crop. It is essential that you treat your colonies against this constant problem, whether with Apiguard [a thymol treatment] or an alternative.
 
Apiary Wednesdays
Dick & Peter’s Wednesday 6:30 pm sessions at our Eythorne out-apiary CT15 4AD are successful & busy; members needing a problem solved, hands-on experience, or some equipment.
Beginner members are especially welcome.
Dick now has a blog which you can check if a session may be cancelled due to poor weather, check before 3pm on the day: https://eythornebees.wordpress.com/
 
International Meeting of Young Beekeepers
The BBKA report that the International Meeting of Young Beekeepers (IMYB), held recently in England, was a big success. It was reported on BBC Radio 4 Farming Today [before 6 am!] but can be accessed via this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08x4rdq
It will also be covered on BBC1's Countryfile on July 23rd 7pm.
 
Wasps and Hornets
More things to worry about! An Asian Hornet nest has been found in Jersey. Wasps are becoming evident here. Also hive thefts in Sellindge. Stay vigilant! Get your wasp/hornet traps out.
 
This month’s meeting
Saturday 29th July at Beech Grove, Forest Drive, Nonington CT15 4FB.
  • There is a purpose built apiary with Langstroth hives, very interesting to see, in a woodland setting. Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. Bring glasses if you wear them! We will have suits to borrow for beginners & observers.
  • Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. All refreshment monies will go to our hosts, the Bruderhof community, who provide lovely food & friendly hospitality.
  • Return your Library books & choose another.
I hope you come along, it is very useful to see other apiaries.

Best Wishes.
Maggie.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Newsletter June 2017

Dear Beekeeper
 
I hope all the Registered Members received their 2017 BBKA membership cards with the June copy of BBKA News. It is a peel-off card on the address sheet.
If you haven't received it, please contact me.
Look after it! Your membership number is on for future reference.
 
The phone calls regarding swarms seem to have eased off a little, but some calls went unsatisfied as beekeepers ran out of equipment to accommodate swarms. If you have agreed to be on the swarm collection list, remember that swarms are collected for the general good; to help the public & enhance the reputation of beekeeping, not just for your own apiary.
 
One of our far-flung members, Del Warden from Petham, has been busy; he collected 6 swarms from one garden in Chilham in the space of 3 weeks! Is this a record?! 
 
As stated last month, prevention of swarms can be achieved by weekly inspections & keen eyes.
 
The apiary at Eythorne has flourished, being a source of hands-on experience & lately of honey. Approx 80 lb of honey has been taken, plus some baker’s honey melted out from last winter’s stores.
Dick will have some at meetings to sell to members & visitors who may not have any yet.
 
Let me know if you are still looking for bees to populate your hives or to get started.  
 
GOOD NEWS!!
Two of our members, Mick Delieu & Charles Barnick underwent the BBKA Basic Assessment earlier this month & both passed. It is a practical & oral examination & the first step to any qualifications. Well done to them both, and to Mary for her coaching!
 
Dick & Peter’s Wednesday 6:30 pm sessions at our Eythorne out-apiary CT15 4AD are proving successful & busy, bringing together members needing a problem solved, hands-on experience, or some equipment to loan.
They make beginner members especially welcome, so use it as a drop-in or however you wish.
 
The National Bee Unit has issued a warning re possible starvation of colonies after honey has been extracted or a colony has been split. Feed syrup [2:1 white sugar to water] if you are concerned.
 
This month’s meeting CHANGE OF VENUE
 
Due to circumstances beyond our control & that of the Bruderhof community, we are swapping the June & July meetings. July 29th will now be held at Beech Grove, Nonington.
 
Saturday 24th June at the DDBKA out apiary at Eythorne Court, Shepherdswell Road, Eythorne CT14 4AD 2:30 p.m.
It is along the Shepherdswell Road, in 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 progress of colonies can be followed each month & compared with your own. Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. Bring glasses if you wear them! We have suits to borrow for beginners & observers.
  • Return your Library books & choose another.
  • Tea and cake [£1] and raffle as usual. Bring your own mugs!!!! 
I hope you will be able to come along & that the weather stays fine.
 
Best wishes
Maggie

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Newsletter May 2017

Dear Beekeeper

60 or so beekeepers & visitors came to the first apiary meeting (April), including three new members. 

The sight that greeted early arrivals was a large swarm on a low branch resting on the fence – an ideal collection position! They were soon boxed up safely. Later it was discovered they had come from the top bar hive. Many Q cells were removed, leaving a choice one to take over.

Mary showed beginners how a hive & colony begin to build in the spring.
She wishes to remind you that leather gloves are difficult to clean so, if used, need to be covered by disposable latex gloves. However, rubber gloves are the preferred alternative (e.g. Marigolds).

May has proved to be a very swarmy month so far. Dick, Roy & Brian have been all over, others too. As beekeepers we need to be aware of how to prevent swarms. It is not a matter of simply destroying Q cells as you will be sure to miss one & they will certainly try again. 
If you see Q cells, first make sure the Q is still there & find a way to separate her from the colony in an artificial swarm or nuc box. Many beekeepers don’t seem to have enough spare equipment! If you have hives then you will need a couple of nuc boxes, at least, to accommodate the summer increase - it’s what bees do!
If the Q has gone, then you have lost half your colony & possibly caused nuisance to neighbours.

So do weekly inspections.
The rape flowers are over, so get the rape honey extracted asap, as soon as it starts to be capped - it can set hard in the combs if left.

Equipment Loans
Loans of our equipment to DDBKA members [only] are now being managed by Eric Cattell who lives in Shepherdswell - many thanks to him.
We have a 9 frame radial honey extractor and a couple of 4 frame tangential extractors, all manual.
Also 2 solar wax extractors to melt out solid honey/old comb, plus a couple of refractometers.
Honey Extractors will be loaned for a maximum of 3 days at a time due to demand and must be thoroughly cleaned before return.
Contact Eric on his mobile or by email (not on his home landline number) - see Maggie's email to members dated 19 May for full contact details.

Wednesday Afternoon Apiary Sessions
Dick and Peter’s Wednesday 6:30 pm sessions at our Eythorne out-apiary have been successful so far, bringing together people needing a problem solved, more hands-on experience, or to borrow some equipment. [NB. If you do borrow anything (or have done recently), please make sure you phone or email Eric Cattell with details.]
They want to make beginners especially welcome, so do use these sessions as a drop-in or however you wish.

This month’s meeting
Saturday 27th May at the DDBKA out apiary at Eythorne Court, Shepherdswell Road, Eythorne CT14 4AD 2:30 p.m. It is along the 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 progress of colonies can be followed each month & compared with your own. Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. Bring glasses if you wear them! We have suits to borrow for beginners & observers.
  • Return your Library books & choose another.
  • Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. Bring your own mugs!!!! (By the way, did anyone pick up my yellow mug with a bee painted inside???)
I hope you will be able to come along & that the weather is fine.
However, I'm afraid I shall not be at the May meeting as DDBKA has a stall in Canterbury Cathedral gardens on Sat 27th [11-4pm] & Sun 28th [2-5pm]. Come along to that on Sunday if you can!
 
Best wishes.
Maggie

Monday, 24 April 2017

Newsletter April 2017

Dear Beekeeper
 
Last month we had around 80 members & friends to our meeting addressed by Derek & Elaine Mitchell on the topic of hives & heat loss. Great to see visitors from other associations!
He is the scientist, she the beekeeper. An afternoon of concentration followed with many graphs, but his message was clear, bees need insulation all year round to efficiently maintain their ideal temperatures. He showed his hives made from thick Recticel insulation board, solid floors, which colonies inhabited all year, cooling as required in the summer.
The infra red pictures of winter heat loss from Nationals & polys showed their inefficiencies. 
Warm & humid conditions are best for honey bee eggs & larvae. If relative humidity is over 80% varroa mites cannot breed! He looked for conditions as like a hollow tree as possible.
Search for this address for more information on this: eigentek.com/paper.pdf
 
 
I hope everyone has cleaned up their hives & checked thoroughly for the presence of the Q, brood, larvae & eggs. Also look for how much stores the colony has. Nectar is coming in fast from rape fields & you need ample room for the bees to store & process it down to below 20% water.
Weekly inspections are needed now. 
Several reports have come in about Q cells developing, the season is early due to the warm spell of weather. 
I had 2 weekends away, so left my bees for 12 days, found sealed Q cells on return. Fortunately the Q was still there so swarm control was possible: 
She was removed with the frame she was on, a frame of food & one of brood + 2 frames of foundation in a nuc box to home. The bees were released at dusk & are now being fed with syrup. 
Hopefully the open Q cell left in the original colony will develop in time to head them up in a couple of weeks. Another day would have seen them swarm, causing nuisance & loss of 50% of my honey gatherers!
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, but never split the brood nest.
 
Here you can download a hive record sheet which you can adapt to your needs.
Once you have more than one colony it is so easy to muddle them up! I know.
 
Members: Please let me know if you are looking for bees to populate your hives this Spring or to get started.
 

Apiary Management:
As you may know Dick Bunting and Pete Crow have taken over management of the Association apiary. 
Dick tells me say they are planning “Apiary Wednesdays”, when all members are welcome to come along at 18.30 each Wednesday evening to carry out hive inspections and other work that needs to be done, like artificial swarms, making up nucs, scraping and scorching hive parts, frame making and the like. This, they think, will be useful for beginners and less experienced beekeepers.
It will also be an opportunity to talk through problems with others, and generally socialise. Hopefully if we get a good mix of experience and newer beekeepers we will make light work of things.
The usual rules re clean beesuits and wellies will apply.
Leather gloves are discouraged, but if you must wear them they should be covered with Nitriles.
Dick will say more on this at the April meeting.
In the meantime we have a new Poly hive, and also a Langstroth with plastic foundation so that members can see these in use and consider if they might want to consider them. Our thanks are due to Patrick Murfet at Bee Equipment Ltd who supplied it free of charge. 
 
This month’s meeting  

  • Saturday 29th April at the DDBKA out apiary at Eythorne Court, Shepherdswell Road, Eythorne CT14 4AD 2:30 p.m. It is along the 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 year has started early, but the progress of colonies can be followed each month & compared with your own. Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. We have suits to borrow for beginners & observers.
  • Return your Library books & choose another (members only!)
  • Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. Bring your own mugs!
I hope you will be able to come along & that the weather is fine.
 
Best wishes.
Maggie.
 
 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Newsletter March 2017

Dear Beekeeper

Kay Wreford, our seasonal bee inspector, gave a very interesting talk last month, informing & alerting us to 2 pests which might come here, Small Hive Beetle & Asian Hornets.
Keep alert! Get hornet traps out to catch possible queens.

So far so good with bees here; it is time to remove mouseguards & woodpecker protection. The weather has been unexpectedly mild; bees have really woken up & started exploring. 

Not much nectar as yet, but fields of oil seed rape near me are near to flowering. A good-sized population of bees will be needed to take advantage of a crop that bees love for nectar & pollen.

If you have concerns about the stores your colonies have left, then change from fondant to liquid syrup, it will encourage the Q to increase her rate of laying & is easier for the bees to take down.

Use syrup made with white sugar & water, 2lb: 1pint [1kg: 800ml].

Inspections
Use the next window of good weather [approx. 15C] to open the hives; take a clean empty brood box with you, scrape the floor of your first hive, & put all the frames from the first hive in the clean box, in the same order. Place that on the clean hive floor, add a super & Q excluder if needed, then thoroughly clean the used brood box before moving along in rotation, scraping & blow torching as you go.
Look for signs of varroa too; a member was anxious after a mite drop of 4 or 5 a day.

Let me know if you want to join or leave the list of swarm collectors & were not at previous meetings. Only registered members can be on the BBKA list, organised on a post code basis to find the nearest available person.

Also, tell me if you are looking for a mentor as a new beekeeper for 2017, or to loan a National hive for your first year of beekeeping, to save expense.

Remember that DDBKA Membership will also enable you to borrow honey extractors in the summer; also we have 2 solar wax extractors to lend as other bits & pieces. We hope to offer members reduced rates on varroa treatments in August as well as Ambrosia as an autumn bee feed.

Management of the Eythorne Apiary
Dick Bunting & Peter Crow have kindly offered to take over the running of our Eythorne out-apiary.
They are grateful for the offers of help from members via the membership forms.
Volunteers will come along to organised sessions, Dick & Peter want to make beginners especially welcome, & plan some changes at Eythorne.

Thank you too to the team which is busying itself each month to provide teas for our meetings, very necessary; Mavis, Pam & Maggie were a hard act to follow!

At last, after a lot of reminding & chasing, our capitation list has gone off to BBKA. We now have over 100 registered members this year. Thank you all.

We have been contacted by an estate in St Margaret’s Bay offering space for a couple of hives on 12 acres of garden & woodland. Please let me know if this interests you.
Obviously experience is necessary, but the estate manager is willing to assist & learn.

This month’s meeting

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

Our speaker is Derek Mitchell, a well-known lecturer who has addressed the Spring Convention in the past on this subject: Heat, heat loss and honeybees. We are fortunate to have him as a speaker on a subject which should interest everybody.
Members from other Associations have shown interest in attending too.

Tea [£1] and raffle as usual

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes,
Maggie.