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.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Newsletter August 2016

Dear Beekeeper

Thanks so much to Aniela for hosting the July meeting – it started wet, but 40 or so of us still went through her lovely well-organised apiary, reporting findings back to her. The tasty contributions to the refreshments went well too & an impressive £159 was donated to the Kelly Turner cancer appeal. DDBKA members were very generous, including one personal contribution of £50.

Many people bought their Apiguard varroa treatment; another order has arrived, I have some reserved boxes here at my address at £1.60 per tray [2 needed per colony]. There is also enough left for 19 colonies; ring if you want some, any left will be at the August meeting. It is a thymol based product in trays which require a shallow eke to contain the first tray. Ekes are simply made at home with wood 40mm deep, to fit whichever sort of hive you own. The second tray goes on after 2 weeks.

Please remember you are legally required to fill in your Veterinary medicines card
DDBKA has ordered Ambrosia winter feed for bees as we did last year. It is a concentrated product; the bees take it down very quickly to store, rather than consuming immediately. A good colony needs a reserve of stores of 35 to 40 pounds weight to survive a winter.

Ambrosia comes in 12.5 kg plastic containers for £13 to members.

It will also be available at the meeting.

This is now the time to assess your bees, it is far better to go into winter with strong colonies than nursing along a nuc or weak hive which cannot build up enough supplies to last it through & is more vulnerable to wasps or robbing. So be practical, unite weaker colonies with the stronger ones, choose the best queen & eliminate the other.

The newspaper method of uniting is usually successful & quick.

In the spring your strong surviving unit can be split when the spring flow begins.

Jean Mozley has mated queens for sale if you need new blood for your colonies.07952 739795

Best wishes


Monday, 25 July 2016

Newsletter July 2016

Dear Beekeeper

Summer may be here at last, the bees are working hard to collect nectar & you may be looking forward to a honey crop at the beginning of next month. Book the DDBKA extractors with Brian Marlow, 01304 831505. We have a 9 frame and 2 x 4 frame manual extractors for members to borrow. When the honey has been extracted, put the super boxes back for the bees to lick dry & take any surplus down to the brood. We also have 2 solar wax extractors as well. Take advantage of the sun, the heat generated by solar extractors will kill wax moth larvae & other nasties.

After extraction, if you are lucky enough to have honey, it will be time for varroa treatment, usually administered in mid August. We shall have Apiguard for sale at the July meeting. 2 trays needed per colony.

Wasps are starting to hang around hives & can be merciless attacking weak colonies or nucs. Reduce entrances if you see wasps pestering hives & make wasp traps in jam jars to drown them.

Do NOT use honey as the bait, jam or sweet drinks will work.

Please let me know if you are still looking for swarms or a nuc.

Jean Mozley says she has mated queens for sale if you need new blood for your colonies.07952 739795

Exam Results

The 4 candidates taking the Basic Assessment, Carol Britnell, Eric Cattell, Claire Inglin & Rob Philpott, all passed, Rob with a credit. Well done to them & thanks to Mary who has 100% pass rate for her teaching. If you have kept bees for a couple of years & have not had a go yet, it is recognition of competence in beekeeping.

Classes begin next spring!


From next year the Eythorne out apiary will need to be managed differently.
It is a club asset & needs careful looking after. We are lucky to have it.

We now have 117 Registered members, so everyone should try to lend a hand, to help with perhaps only a small part of the tasks, but to be able to share & feedback what needs to be done & to ensure that small jobs are covered to make the whole run smoothly.

For example, these are some of the varied areas for which responsibility could be needed:

The grounds, hive maintenance, frame making & cleaning, the colonies, bee health & treatments, honey extraction & jarring, catering, equipment maintenance, shed tidying, loans, apiary access via gates, being a mentor, record keeping, swarm collecting [as a public as well as a personal service], representing DDBKA on stalls etc.

None of these jobs are onerous on their own, could be done working with a partner.

In addition we shall need a coordinator, or perhaps a partnership, not necessarily on site every week, but with an overview & in charge of forward planning. Give it some thought please!

David Stevenson read this item on BBC News pages – see what beekeeping can do to improve the world!

Best wishes


Friday, 17 June 2016

Newsletter June 2016

Dear Beekeeper

The rapeseed flowers are well over by now & you should have extracted your spring honey if you were lucky enough to have any. I still have reports of queens being slow to mate & begin to lay, there was a very cold week at the start of June which would not have helped mating prospects. At Eythorne, inspecting weekly, we have found a couple of queens dead in their cells, always a sad sight, and meaning that a couple of weeks have been wasted while waiting for her to emerge. The bee season is short even if all goes well. Patience is needed.

Keep up your weekly inspections, make plans to deal with swarming signs – queen cells with an egg & white royal jelly. A sure sign that they have intentions.

Don’t do nothing, swarms are a nuisance & worry to the public, you will also lose half your workers.

Please let me know if you are still looking for swarms or a nuc.

Exam Time

All good wishes to the candidates taking their Basic Assessment [the first stage in BBKA examinations] on June 18th at Eythorne. Mary has prepared them well, hope the weather does its bit.

Bees Abroad

The latest news from the bees abroad project can be found HERE!

Best wishes


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Newsletter May 2016

Dear Beekeeper

A splendid attendance for the April venture outdoors, turned out to be the first good day of a very warm spell. Over 50 present, including 2 new visitors. Please remember mugs this month [Mavis says!] The hot weather kick started bees into activity, rapidly expanding the brood & starting to fill supers. It also brought the rape fields into prominence.

I expected queen cells, but none of mine have made any yet. But we have had some at the apiary, & you will too. Have your equipment [spare boxes, nuc boxes, made up frames, feeders etc ] ready, it should not take you by surprise. Also have in mind how you are to tackle the queen cells – carry out an artificial swarm to avoid increasing your number of colonies; make nucs with the cells; remove the queen into a nuc as an insurance policy.
Don’t do nothing, swarms are a nuisance & worry to the public.
All options need a supply of frames with foundation.

Those who were at the April meeting learned about the discovery of EFB in Worth on April 30th. The Bee Inspector looked at hives in Eythorne, Folkestone & found a mild case of EFB in Worth. She returned the following week & performed a shook swarm which is doing well. She also learned of some badly neglected hives in the Worth area, & as is her legal right, examined them, found EFB as well as the serious neglect & destroyed them.
So be vigilant when carrying out your weekly inspections!

Exam Success!
7 candidates from DDBKA sat Module 3 in March [Bee diseases & poisoning]. All 7 passed, an excellent result, Polly, Sue, Philip, Jackie, Pat, Rowena & Maggie deserve our congratulations.
The full results will be published in BBKA News later.
Jackie, our Exam Secretary, says the next module sitting is Nov. and then March 2017.
Look on the BBKA website for syllabus details and examples of past exam papers.
Anyone interested could talk with Mary about joining a Study group.

Annual Summer Visit
Our problem over siting a summer visit in July has been solved by Aniela, who generously offered her apiary at Capel for us to come & see. I am very grateful for her kindness.
It is a lovely open area, with plenty of parking.

Drone Marking
All the Bee Associations in Kent took part last weekend in an experimental drone marking session to see how far they travel. Each Association had 2 colours to put on 100 drones’ thoraxes. No easy task!
Well done to Dick, Dougal & Jackie & teams for undertaking such a job.
NOW This is your turn – please report to me any drones you see in your hives which have 2 colours on them & which colours. Then I can collate the info & relay it to Bob Smith whose idea it was!
Will there be any/none? Who knows!

Best wishes


Monday, 25 April 2016

Newsletter April 2016

Dear Beekeeper

I hope you enjoyed the talk last month by Chris Mead, full of anecdotes & tips; I especially liked the idea of reducing wax moth problems by installing bat boxes - thinking laterally. He wrote that he was made very welcome at Dover.


Many hives have now been opened, one member has 2 lots of laying workers and many of us have found the colonies to be smaller than usual. Mine & those at Eythorne have lots of solid stores. Your queens need room to lay as the weather warms, so you may have to remove some full frames to give her room with new foundation or drawn comb. The solid combs can be used when making nucs or melted down for your own use, though it is hard to know if the stores are from nectar [ivy probably] or from heavy autumn feeding of syrup. The mild winter kept them active & foraging longer.

If not sure, use it for your tea, porridge or baking.

Also 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.

Kay Wreford [a Bee Inspector] has contacted some of us to inspect our colonies. This is something to be glad about – an acknowledged bee expert, for free, giving guidance and advice with bee colonies! I wish she had contacted me!

Eythorne out apiary will undergo a change this year. I have been offered space for my 2 hives near home, so I am moving them & giving up the overall management of our apiary in my 8th year. This leaves an opportunity for a change. If you would be keen to organise the running of the apiary or to take part in a possible rota system for caring for the colonies, speak up at the meeting or email me.

I have been really grateful to the beekeepers that have come along to help & learn over the years, particularly the beginners. I’ll make this year’s help list at the meeting.

BIBBA HUMM Bibba are the Association of Bee breeders, an influential body. They designed the talk & courses with Roger Patterson. They are starting a free e-Newsletter which you can sign up for here Worth a look!

Beehive vandalism
Our member, John Saunders, from Shepherdswell found his 2 hives tipped over, one colony lost & the other in a bad way. This can only be explained as vandalism & you are warned to be vigilant of your hives and those of your friends & colleagues. Keep alert to protect bees at this vulnerable time of the year, John was very angry & upset.

Best wishes