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:
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.

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].

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,

Friday, 17 February 2017

Newsletter February 2017

Dear Fellow Beekeeper

As I write, our bees are still quiet, the weather is cold, but mild days will bring them out to visit the snowdrops & crocuses you have planted for pollen. 
Continue with fondant if you have started - early March is the colony’s most vulnerable time to succumb to starvation. 
New brood should appear soon, but there are fewer winter bees to care for it. 
Check your equipment; the season will be here before you know it!

DDBKA Membership:
Thanks to the many who have already paid their 2017 subscription, either at the January meeting, directly into the bank or by post to Philip. I know that some have moved away & some have given up beekeeping - we will miss you. 
Membership of DDBKA enables you to loan a hive (for your first year) and also to borrow honey extractors in the summer. We also have 2 solar wax extractors to lend as well as other bits & pieces. We also aim to offer members reduced rates on Ambrosia bee feed syrup in the autumn and varroa treatments. Plus we have honey jars in 1lb, 12oz and 8oz sizes for sale at cost price, but only to current members.

Click HERE to download the 2017 Subscription form if you wish to join or re-join.
Please get it sorted asap if you haven’t yet done so - we close the Spring list soon after the end of the month. 
Thank you!

Swarm Collectors:
Let me know if you want to join or leave the list of swarm collectors & were not at the AGM in Nov. BBKA have sent me their list for updating on their website, remarking that it was snowing at Stoneleigh at the time of contact!

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.

Invitations from Thanet BKA to two talks:
Thanet BKA has kindly invited all to come along to a talk by Kay Wreford, our Seasonal Bee Inspector. She will be speaking on EFB & hive hygiene, both very relevant last season.
The only charge will be for refreshments.
Sunday 19th February at 2 pm
Taddy's Barn, East Northdown Farm, George Hill Road, Margate CT9 3TS
A talk by Bob Smith on Queens & Queen Raising - The Theory.
This talk will be followed by a practical session with Bob in June to which visitors will be welcome, numbers permitting. 
Tuesday 28th March at 7.30 pm
Salvation Army Community Hall, 1 Tothill St, Minster CT12 4AG
This is a brand new hall on the main road into Minster from the Thanet Way. Look out for the TBKA sign on the railings.

Central Association of Beekeepers
Spring Meeting, February 18th from 10:30am to 4:30pm
At Roots & Shoots, The Vauxhall Centre, Walnut Tree Walk, London SE11 6DN
Bring your own lunch. Three science-based lectures related to beekeeping.
Free admission, donation to expenses welcome.

Honey Extractor: Nine frame radial manual food grade polythene extractor for sale.
This also includes a slightly temperamental motor, probably needs servicing. The extractor was in use with the motor in 2016.
£200 buyer collects. Contact Mary Hill by email at 

National Hives:
Penny Rickards is leaving beekeeping. She has 4 National hives, almost new, to sell. Old Wives Lees area.
£150 with 2 supers, £165 with 3 supers. Contact Penny on 01227 730602.

This month’s meeting 

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

Our speaker is Kay Wreford, very well-known as our seasonal bee inspector.
She will be speaking on Alien Invaders, exotic pests we may encounter, Asian hornets & Small Hive beetle. It is no good just hoping we’ll never meet them; the Asian Hornet is just over the Channel!
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 & payment - it can get confusing! Please also remember to fill in the back of the form.
Your subscription pays for: BBKA membership including monthly magazine, BDI insurances, our newsletter & speakers plus allows you access to our loan kit, and to buy our cost-price honey jars, bee feeds and treatments, and lend books from our library.

Tea [£1] and raffle as usual.

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Newsletter January 2017

Dear Beekeeper

At the time of writing, my bees & the DDBKA bees at Eythorne are all alive and have been given a winter treatment & a feed of candy, 'just in case'.
If you are registered on Beebase [as I trust you are], you will have received an alert from the National Bee Unit about the mild weather leading to bees venturing out more and consequently using up their stores for energy more quickly. So keep them fed; fondant/candy is the only suitable feed in winter. 


The 2017 Subscription Form is now available (all last year's members should have received a copy by email or post). To download a copy click on the format you wish below (PDF or MS Word):
Please return your completed form and pay your subscription by 28th Feb at the latest!
All should be clear, but please notice the ways to pay section and also the part on page 2 about helping your Association to run smoothly.
Let me know if you want to join or leave the list of swarm collectors & were not at the AGM.
Also if you are looking for a mentor.
As yet, we have no beginners wishing to loan one of our 4 National hives for their first year.
They are available at no cost, just return it as it was given in April the next year. The initial outlay for equipment can be pricey, so a loan might just suit, once you become a member of DDBKA.
Membership will also enable you to borrow honey extractors in the summer & also we have 2 solar wax extractors to lend as well as other bits & pieces. We hope to offer members reduced rates on varroa treatments in August as well as Ambrosia bee syrup as an autumn bee feed.

Mary Hill reminds you of her Beginners' Course being held on the 25th February & 25th March, just before our Association monthly meetings at Alkham Village Hall, costing a total of £20, running from 10am to 2pm both days.
The course covers equipment, siting your apiary, the life of a colony, the beekeeper’s year, swarms, pests and disease control and prevention. An opportunity as a refresher & to ask questions in a friendly group. You must be able to attend both sessions.
Application Form HERE.

I have heard from our Regional Bee Inspector, Diane Steele [who is leaving this post], about the Annual SE Region Report, covering matters such as honey yields, pests, incidences of disease etc affecting our region & further afield in 2016.
The Annual SE Region Report is available to download HERE.

BBKA Annual Delegates Meeting:
Peter Crow was our representative at this meeting on January 14th, he was involved with propositions & debates which he will sum up briefly at the January meeting.

This month’s meeting is:

Saturday 28th January at Alkham Village Hall CT15 7BU 2:30 p.m.

Our speaker is Bob Smith, very well-known as an inspiring teacher to many of us. He will be speaking on some of the things bees collect & their uses, but principally about pollen, how it is gathered and used as vital nourishment for our colonies. 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 pays for the BBKA monthly magazine and membership, insurances, newsletter & speakers.
I hope you will be able to come along.
Best wishes      

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Newsletter October 2016

Dear Beekeeper

Thanks to all who did the mite counting & stores checking at last month's meeting.
I hope you have done the same with your colonies now & that they are ready for winter.
Sam Millard helped me reverse the Eythorne boxes - half broods of stores are now on the bottom. Next step mouseguards, as the nights become colder.

Lots of new, familiar & friendly faces came to say hello at the Ploughing Match.
Phyllis had success with her honey entries, well done!
I managed to get a 3rd place out of 2 entries [!?].

The Asian Hornet nest in Gloucestershire has been found & destroyed. Sadly more have been found to the north of the Mendips in Somerset. It is worth pointing out that every sighting so far has been made by a beekeeper, so stay vigilant.

DDBKA Honey Show on Sat 22nd Oct at Beech Grove, Nonington, CT15 4FB

I hope we have a good crop of entries, try something different! The Entry Form can be downloaded HERE and posters can be downloaded as A4 here and A5 here, so print some off & put one in your window & car; ask your local shop, post office, village notice board to please display one.

The closing date for entries is officially 15th October, but Chris is kind! He will send you the stickers in the s.a.e. you must enclose with your entry form.

Confectionery entries don’t have to be made with your own honey – it may be your first year!

Read the regulations carefully. They may seem picky, but it leads to fairness for all.

At the meeting on the 24thSeptember, Peter Willoughby carried out a repair on the roof.
Then, a few days later, he painted the shed exterior to make it more weather-proof for the winter.
It looks very smart & Peter deserves all our thanks, a talented chap!


Mary Hill will be running a Beginners’ Course in the mornings of the February and March meetings in 2017 (last Sat of month, but dates to be confirmed). The application form is downloadable HERE.

Mary Hill will also be running a course for those wishing to take the BBKA Basic Assessment exam - the application form is HERE. Mary tells me that unless she has at least five students she will have to revise the arrangement of the course or cancel it. She needs numbers by the end of October so if interested apply soon. There are a lot of members who have kept bees for at least two years and who ought to be considering doing the BBKA Basic Assessment.

BBKA General Husbandry Assessment:
Have a look at page 341in October’s BBKA News to find out about training over the winter for this assessment. It is a requirement that you have passed the Basic Assessment first.

For those who like surveys, the BBKA have their annual Honey Survey on Page 357 of October’s BBKA News. It’s quick & easy to do - I did mine on-line at the BBKA website - there’s a link on the first page.
It is important for early signs of national & regional trends in honey yields, even if you, as yet, have had none!

I look forward to seeing you at the Honey Show on 22nd Oct - please come along!
Best wishes,
P.S. Next month’s meeting [November 26th] will be indoors at Alkham Village Hall, our AGM.
Think about what you could offer in terms of a committee or apiary role.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Newsletter September 2016

Dear Beekeeper

Around 60 of us attended the August meeting with groups roped in to add ekes & inserts to the colonies.
The only hive showing a dead varroa mite drop of more than 5 a day after a week was the polystyrene hive which was encouraging.
Apiguard & Ambrosia sales went well (note we have now sold out of Apiguard).
The second Apiguard application was done on the 10th Sept - thanks Claire!
An interesting find was that Apiguard can melt in the hive in high temperatures as we have experienced lately!

September is the month for feeding: standard theory has all feeding done by the end of the month, but the autumns have been bee-friendly lately & so colonies can be left to fill up for longer.

My bees are enjoying the ivy as their winter stores; I’ll feed early in October to boost the weight if needed.
But some beekeepers prefer to feed strong syrup [2:1] or Ambrosia early to prevent their hives filling up with ivy honey which granulates very hard.

In mid October the bees in a brood & a half arrangement [only National or WBC] will have the half box moved under the brood to enable the winter treatments to reach the brood easily. Queen excluders should be out. The net result should be 35-40 pounds weight in stores for winter consumption for the reduced population.

A reminder from Chris Holdstock, our Show Secretary:
Here we are again, show time!
October will soon be here and with the warm weather this summer I expect most of us with bees will have wonderful honey to enter this year. With an ever growing membership, entries in the show should be increasing. This is not so however. Last year we had only 31 entrants. If that was repeated it would be only a quarter of our members, or less, as we have lots of entries from other associations, who incidentally win a lot of our silverware!
So come on all, find something to enter and help to make the show a continued success. It's a great buzz to have entries in the show, especially if as a beginner you get placed above one or two of the "regulars”.
Best of luck and remember 31 entrants is not an option!


You can get the Schedule for the DDBKA Honey Show 2016 HERE.
Have a try at some of the classes.
And remember, DDBKA members can enter Open as well as Members’ classes.
Confectionery entries don’t have to be made with your own honey – it may be your first year!
But do read the regulations carefully. They may seem picky, but it leads to fairness for all.

The closing date for entries is 15th October. Chris will send you the stickers for exhibits in the s.a.e. you must enclose with your entry form.

The weather is getting to it & it needs repair. A 'plastic', corrugated covering is being considered.
Can you help? We need volunteers to actually carry out the work.

BBKA Basic Beekeeping Assessment
Mary is again running a course for anyone who would like to do the Basic Assessment.
There is no writing! You will need to open a hive & talk about what you see and answer questions on general beekeeping, swarming and diseases.
This course is open to anyone who has kept bees for two summers and the winter in between. There is more detail in the application form available here.
Please contact Mary at the meeting to find out more. Also to ask about a BBKA Module 1 study group this winter. The syllabus is an extension of your Basic pass!

Closing date for November Exam Entries  Any member considering sitting a Module exam on November 10th must have their entry form signed by Jackie (exam secretary) and with BBKA by 30th September.

EFB has been confirmed at Wingham.
If your apiary is registered on Beebase you will have been notified if it is within 3km of the outbreak. So, please make sure all your apiaries are registered.

Best wishes.