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,

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Newsletter October 2017

Dear Beekeeper
Your bee colonies should now be well fed & have decent stores to see them through the winter. The sunny weather has seen them flying & active, but nights can be chilly & they will be clustering. 

I will be reversing my brood + a half boxes soon to put the full super box underneath. This leaves the brood mainly at the top, well-placed for the January varroa treatment of Api-Bioxal [an approved varroacide].

Mouseguards can be put on entrances & woodpecker protection added around the hives. You can purchase wraps to protect the hives or try chicken wire around them.

News of Beginners’classes in the spring 2018
Rob Philpott will run the DDBKA beginners’ course in a new heated workshop that is now near completion at his home address right next to their apiary in Temple Ewell.
A copy of the application form and timetable is available HERE; the course covers 6 weekly evening sessions in February & March 2018, covering all aspects of bee society & management through the season.

Best wishes.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Honey Show Announcement


is to be held in the

Shepherdswell Village Hall
Cox Hill, Shepherdswell, Dover
CT15 7N


Saturday 21st October 2017 at 2.30 pm
Trophies to be presented at approx. 3.15 pm

Monday, 25 September 2017

Newsletter September 2017

Dear Beekeeper
Tremendous thanks to Steve & Linda Boyce for their hospitality at the August meeting on Romney Marsh. Not that easy to find, as I discovered, but a lovely spot for bees. A car load of beekeepers from Walmer never actually made it - forced to seek refreshment! It was hot & the 27 hives were all active, one was defensive. 
We removed the full frames for Steve to extract, lucky man. Thanks to all, especially those who brought food.
Kay Wreford, our Seasonal Bee Inspector, explained why certain beekeepers were inspected more than others, on the traffic light system:
Green:   left alone unless request a visit, probably rural & isolated
Amber:  still almost under the radar as not in areas of previous infections
Red:       yearly visit, near docks/port, a likely point of entry for Asian hornet, small hive beetle.
But inspectors will come if requested by a beekeeper.
Disease Alert: EFB identified again within 3 km of Nonington - make sure you're registered on BeeBase for alerts.
This month in the apiary:
Varroa treatments should be removed by now & concentrated feeding should aim to be done by the end of this month. Use strong sugar syrup [1kg white sugar to 630ml of water] or Ambrosia syrup. 35-40lb of stores is recommended for a normal sized colony.
The queen excluder can be removed as bees use the space as they wish.
Depending on the weather I’ll let mine go a bit longer to see how much ivy nectar they bring in, that’s their preference after all. But many beekeepers find ivy honey a nuisance as it sets very hard & the bees never seem to eat it all. You may be left with frames needing to be melted down next spring.
DDBKA Honey Show!
October 21st Shepherdswell Village Hall 2:30 pm (note the new venue for this year)
I hope you have had time to look at the 2017 schedule & see what you’ll enter. Personally I have no honey left after a poor summer season & local demand, so will try harder with wax & confectionery! 
So choose your best jars, make sure they are clean & clear & the right weight & go for it! 
And do remember that members can enter open as well as members’ classes.
The wax classes are a steep learning curve, but very satisfying, also mead making.
The closing date for entries is 14th October. Chris will send you the stickers in the s.a.e. which 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.
This month’s meeting:
The last outdoor meeting of the year!
Saturday 30th September at the DDBKA out-apiary CT15 4AD 2:30 p.m.
It is along the Shepherdswell Road, near Eythorne as you head towards Shepherdswell, on the left, Parking in the next field. 
  • Mary will work with beginners; she may discuss equipment & tools with the group. Others will demonstrate at DDBKA hives. 
  • Each hive will have its stores assessed & counted for the winter, 3lb for a full super frame, 5lb a full brood frame. Feeding of Ambrosia to start if not already started. DDBKA has 3 English feeders & 2 budget wooden feeders. The poly hive has its own feeder.
  • 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. Bring your own mugs!

Hoping for fine weather!
Best wishes,