Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Newsletter May 2020

Dear beekeeper

No surprises here, our May meeting is cancelled as you will have expected.
We don't know when we will next be able to meet given the current Covid-19 pandemic, but will keep you posted via the Newsletter.

Little has changed since April, except that we are able to be out in the open air with another person not from our household. Hooray. But not quite a meeting! 

The bees have no such qualms: we've had lots of early swarms - Densole, Eythorne, Folkestone, Guston, Hythe, Martin, Ripple, River, Worth, and more. 
Most of the members on my current list have been provided for or else have had swarms turn up locally. Please let me know asap if you are looking for bees.

Note: if you want to find a swarm collector, click on the link to the BBKA Swarm Collector web page at the top right of this page. There is a swarm collector map on that page to help find someone near you.

Stay safe and enjoy your beekeeping.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Newsletter February 2019

Dear Beekeeper

There have been great attendances for two talks recently: firstly for Kevin the agronomist, at our January meeting in Alham Village Hall, and secondly at Lenham for the Kent BKA 'sustainable queen rearing course' by BIBBA - Roger Patterson was the speaker.

Kevin (agronomist) thought you may be interested in some research from Cambridge he found after seeing us at Alkham: 

The Lenham talk was very relevant to me as I have lost a colony this month; full of stores, but starved in sad little groups. I caught another colony just in time & they have perked up with some fondant & a daily spray of syrup on the bees. No eggs as yet, I may be wasting my time…. 
A heavy hive doesn’t always mean all is OK! Peek under the crownboard. 
So, I shall have to restock the lost hive by rearing my own queen[s], perhaps trying the 2 frame nuc method described on the BIBBA talk, but first I must acquire some drawn comb as recommended on that course. See for Roger Patterson’s methods.
Start thinking to decide which colony you will choose to make increase from, docility being a first criterion.

Thanks for the volunteers who offered to help Peter Crow, the coordinator, in identifying AH locally. There will be opportunity to join at the meeting if you missed last month. is the contact should you see anything looking like the Asian Hornet. There is an Asian Hornet app for Smartphone users: ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ is available to download from the Apple and Android app stores. It gives a simple picture and notes for identification and compares AH to several common insects with which it can be confused. It also allows a photo you take to be uploaded easily with grid reference.

This month’s meeting
Saturday 23rd February at Alkham Village Hall CT15 7BU 2:30 p.m.
Our speaker is Dr Gerry Brierley, ‘The Secrets of Medicinal Apitherapy: A journey into the healing hive.’ She is an ‘Accidental Apitherapist’ and beekeeper, who, after an encounter with blood sucking ticks in the Surrey Hills contracted near fatal forms of tick borne infections. She opens up the natural pharmacy at the bottom of your garden to discuss premium hive produce for general health and healing. Gerry uncovers the medicinal properties of honey, drone larva, pollen, bee bread, royal jelly and propolis. She shares her personal survival story along with supporting scientific evidence of how using bee venom has saved her life and many thousands of others. Gerry has a diverse background in business entrepreneurship and academia and was Specially Recognised British Female and Inventor and Innovator, 2005. She enjoys sculling, archaeology, wild foraging and dowsing. She is also a qualified pilot and a Druid.
Don’t miss it!

I hope you will be able to come along, sounds interesting!

Best wishes


Thursday, 17 January 2019

Newsletter January 2019

Dear Beekeeper

A green queen for 2019!

It seems a long time since the AGM in November, but already there are signs of the bees getting ready for the coming season. 
Not all good signs, sadly - I have seen & heard of losses, one of a colony full of stores which has all died with ominous streaks of dysentery on the brood frames.
So the heavy weight of a hive is not always enough of an indication of well-being inside. If you quickly peek inside, bees should be visible in the seams between combs or on the top of the frames, moving slowly.
The weather has been relatively mild but is becoming colder; 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 beekeeping suppliers or by prior arrangement from Vanes bakers, 120 High St Dover 01304 206325. Ring first; it is usually sold in 12.5 kg boxes. Heavy, but it keeps well if cool & wrapped. Also available online from Bako.

If fondant is used, replace as soon as it has been consumed.
Bees will still fly on cleansing flights on sunny days.

Payment is due NOW!
Thanks to all who have paid the membership fees to join us & also be registered with BBKA, vital for insurances. The 2019 membership form is available HERE as there have been several enquiries from possible new beekeepers. 
The 2019 schedule is available HERE.

Annual Delegates Meeting 
Peter Crow was our representative at this meeting on January 12th, he was involved with propositions & debates which he will sum up briefly at the January meeting.

This month’s meeting
Saturday 26th January at Alkham Village Hall CT15 7BU 2:30 p.m.

Our speaker is Kevin Knight, he works as an agronomist & has bravely volunteered to speak to us about the decisions that farmers make when hoping to maximise their crops while paying attention to the needs of insect life which surround them. He is a lover of wildlife in general, down to earth.
A knowledgeable chap who is hoping for some interesting, challenging questions.
Don’t miss it!

Please pay your subs to Philip, our Hon Treasurer, 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 monthly magazine, insurances, newsletter & speakers.

Tea [£1] and raffle as usual

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes

Newsletter December 2018

Dear Beekeeper

Thanks to all who came along to our AGM in the historic St Anthony’s church, Alkham. 
The meeting was hurriedly rearranged due to a mix-up with the Village Hall. All taken in good part, but we finished quickly as it was quite chilly! 
But not without tea & raffle.

Peter Crow was unanimously & happily elected as Chair of our Association, with the other posts remaining as they were. We have a new Librarian, Debbie Philpott; & Sue Court & Elaine Grayling volunteered to join the refreshment rota. Thank you!

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Newsletter November 2018

Dear Beekeeper

Thanks to all who entered & attended our Honey Show at Shepherdswell Village Hall last month. Chris has sent his appreciation & a list of the 2018 results which you can view here.
A good turnout and lots of visitors.

Winter comes soon; your hard-working bees 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 - it’s vulnerable too!].
Check every so often that your hives are safe from strong winds, animals, vandalism etc. They should be left alone till you decide on a varroa treatment in early January.

The year moves on & it’s time for the AGM...


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 do not be shy about standing, your contribution is needed, a chance to voice your views about any aspects of DDBKA.
NB Only Registered members can be nominated & hold offices.
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.
Please phone or email nominations to me before the AGM. I shall need to prepare ballot papers in the case of any contested elections.

Most holders are willing to stand this time, but all posts will be elected.

As you see, we need a Chair. 
Dick has served us well for 3 years - many thanks to him for his input & innovation. He will be leaving the committee too. 
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
Vice Chair
Paula Gardner
willing to stand again
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
Equipment Secretary
Eric Cattell
willing to stand again

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

This month’s meeting – the last of the year – the AGM.
Saturday 24th 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.

Hope to see you there,
Best wishes.


Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Newsletter October 2018

Dear Beekeeper

We had a successful auction of various bits of beekeeping equipment last month, over £500 raised for bee charities with more to come in the spring when David Clark’s complete hives are empty & can be sold as well. Thanks to Len for doing the calling [who else!]

I have opened up my hives in the warm weather this week to count the level of stores they have brought in.

Most are in the 30lb region, but one has only 20lb so is being fed with strong syrup [2lb sugar to 1 pint water]. To estimate the stores your bees have collected, a full super frame holds 3lb honey & a full brood frame holds 5lb, so you can roughly reckon up what’s there. Langstroths are obviously heavier.

35-40 lb is needed for winter survival.

My bees are still active on ivy which bumps up the hive weight. Soon I shall reverse the boxes on my brood+ a half boxes 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 varroaicide]. Other techniques are available……

DDBKA Honey Show, 20th October

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Newsletter September 2018

Dear Beekeeper

The main news this month is the finding of an Asian hornet in Fowey, Cornwall. Also now in Liskeard, Cornwall, & in Hull!
Keep vigilant, look at your hive entrances. Now the hornets are settling in lower plants, hedges & bushes. Take a photo if possible of a suspicious sighting, send to:
Queen hornets are looking for sites at this time.
If you have wasp traps, check carefully for Asian hornets. Reduce hive entrances

Wednesday evening sessions at Eythorne apiary CT15 4AD
These sessions are now over for the year as evenings are chillier & darker.

Winter beekeeping courses
There is no need to stop thinking about bees during the winter!
In the Spring Rob Philpott is running a six week Beginners’ Course. If you are very new to the craft or have got bees but have never been on a course, this is the course for you. 
Now is also the time for those of you who have keep bees for two seasons with the winter in between to think about doing the Basic Beekeeping Exam. The course is run by Mary Hill. It is a practical and verbal exam., no written work at all. You will learn some things you have not bothered about before and add to those you already know. It is essential if you hope to sit BBKA Modules later.

This month’s meeting

Saturday 29th September at Eythorne apiary, CT15 4AD
An auction & sale is planned as the bees will not welcome being disturbed! We have a good deal of redundant equipment after the death of David Clark. There are National boxes, roofs & floors, new frames, nuc boxes, feeders, smokers & equipment to sell.
His family has asked that proceeds go to the bee charities.
There will be a set price on new equipment and an auction for the used. All the wooden equipment has been scorched but some could do with some TLC. If members wanted to bring along any surplus equipment they want to off load, then it will be welcome.


· Mary will check with beginners that their bees are ready for winter.

· Varroa treatments will be available to purchase at the meeting, pre order from Philip by email.

· Return your Library books & choose another!

· Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. Bring your own mugs!!!! 

Hope to see you there.
Best wishes.