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...


ELECTIONS

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!

Office
Current holder
Remarks
Chair
Dick Bunting
retiring
Vice Chair
Paula Gardner
willing to stand again
Secretary & Membership Secretary
Maggie Harrowell
willing to stand again
Treasurer
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
Delegate
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.

Maggie.





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: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk
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.

Also:

· 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.
Maggie.


Newsletter August 2018

Dear Beekeeper

We were really grateful to Mick Delieu for hosting the July meeting at the rifle ranges at Hythe. 
Most of us would never have been allowed to set foot there before. An expanse of rough ground up a slope next to the open sea, a great site for bees with lots of useful buildings. A windy exposed spot, but the sun shone.
Thanks also to Charles Barnick who has donated to our Association a 2-frame tangential Langstroth honey extractor, handy for those who have Langstroth hives, but not a great deal to extract.

The honey yields this summer seem to be generally exceptional; Karl in Church Hougham extracted 400lb in 3 days last week! Karl also reports that he has experienced the jelly-like consistency of some of his honey as reported by Dick from Eythorne, difficult to extract!

Our club honey extractors have been heavily used, as it should be. We also have 2 tabletop 4 frame tangential extractors & one 9 frame radial one.
Contact Eric to borrow a DDBKA honey extractor (members only).

The one snag seems to be a very large wasp population this year, hanging around hives & kitchens as their nests are deserted. If you have wasp traps, check carefully for Asian hornets. Reduce hive entrances.

Best wishes.
Maggie.


Thursday, 19 July 2018

Newsletter July 2018

Dear Beekeeper

At last the bees are bringing in noticeable quantities of honey, I’m unsure of the source, round our way it’s probably blackberries & privet, but the hot weather & sunshine seems to agree with the colonies. 
Roy Pearson has been lucky with white clover this summer, which needs 21C to produce nectar, just right for current conditions.

Clearer boards are the best solution to persuading bees to leave a super box, Brushing only annoys! Put on the evening before extraction is planned.
But the Porter bee escapes must fit properly; we had an instance recently of new escapes which couldn’t fit into a new crownboard, the holes being too tight. Consequently the escapes were distorted & bees could come & go freely in both directions, missing the point!
Members can contact Eric Cattell to borrow a DDBKA honey extractor.
We have 2 tabletop 4 frame tangential extractors & one 9 frame radial one.

There should be fewer swarms now, but keep your inspection rotas going as nothing this year seems to be “normal”.


Wednesday evenings at Eythorne apiary CT15 4AD
Wednesday sessions at Eythorne at 6:30 pm, for beginners & experienced helpers to provide hands on experience in a small group are going well, though weather dependent. There are always tasks to do & you will be welcome. Check Dick’s blog at https://eythornebees.wordpress.com

Reminder from Pam Hunter, our Link Trustee, about Asian Hornets:
Please note that the contact for reporting suspected Asian hornets is alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

Good news - an app has been launched recently -The ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app is available to download from the Apple and Android app stores.

This month’s meeting
  • Saturday 28th July at Mick Delieu’s apiary near Hythe. He has kindly offered to host us for the afternoon, the rifle ranges will not be firing for the day! It is an excellent opportunity for beginners to see a fairly recently established apiary, Mick has made great progress running his independent set-up. A map with directions has been sent to members.
  • Bring your own chair if you need one.
  • The gate will open at 1:45, lots of parking.
  • Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. We have suits to borrow for beginners & observers. DDBKA has purchased some new smaller sizes for younger visitors. Safe dress is required around bees.
  • 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. To make refreshment easier far from our apiary, will you please bring a food contribution to share, we will provide tea & coffee. Bring your own mugs!!!!
See you there! I’m really looking forward to it, the public are not usually allowed on this land, a treat for us all.
Maggie.



Newsletter June 2018

Dear Beekeeper

I feel I should apologise to those who contacted me wanting or needing swarms.
They simply have not appeared! Maybe I am out of the area where they are numerous, but chatting to others reveals that a swarm is a rare beast this year. Members have made purchases of nucs or are waiting in hope.
Remember if you have signed up to collect swarms then please do go when contacted, or ring me to organize someone else.
If you don’t need more bees there are folk who do!
DDBKA members have priority, so let me know asap if you have a box of bees to spare!


Do regular weekly inspections. The bees seem to be bringing in some honey now, so keep an eye on them to ensure they have room to process nectar into honey [below 20% water content].

EFB has broken out again in SE London, as well as in the Woodnesborough area. Make yourself familiar with its appearance.
Kay has been very active in our area, a fantastic free diagnostic visit if she comes to you!
Wednesday evenings at Eythorne apiary
Wednesday sessions at Eythorne at 6:30 pm, for beginners & experienced helpers to provide hands on experience in a small group are going well, though weather dependent. There are always tasks to do & you will be welcome. Check Dick’s blog at https://eythornebees.wordpress.com

Best wishes.
Maggie.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Newsletter May 2018

Dear Beekeeper

We have not yet met all together in 2018 at Eythorne after last month’s washout.
Hopefully this month will have kinder weather.
The rape flowers are fading now, washed away in heavy rains, so extract the honey as soon as you can, it quickly sets hard in the combs.



SWARMS
After last month’s request for people needing swarms to come forward, I have a list of 10 or so members who need bees to replace their losses. One member has lost every colony, from 2 different sites.
So collecting swarms is going to be vital.
Remember if you have signed up to collect swarms then please do go when contacted, or ring me to organize someone else.
If you don’t need more bees there are folk who do!
DDBKA members have priority, so let me know asap if you have a box of bees to spare!
Having said all that my phone has only rung once so far…………


As beekeepers we need to be aware of how to prevent swarms, it is not a matter of just destroying Q cells, 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. NUC: Take her & the frame she is on, add extra frames of brood, food & foundation, shake in some extra bees too. The bees remaining in the brood box will create a new queen in 2/3 weeks. Some beekeepers don’t have enough spare equipment – if you have hives then you will need a couple of nuc boxes to accommodate the summer increase, it’s what bees do! Our Association has some nuc boxes to lend to members.
If the Q has gone, then you have lost half your colony & possibly caused nuisance to neighbours.
Do regular weekly inspections.

Many thanks to the people who returned their Loan Hives to the apiary whenever the weather let them get through. I hope the new borrowers are now set up & ready to populate their hives with a nuc or swarm.

Wednesday evenings at Eythorne apiaryWednesday sessions at Eythorne at 6:30 pm, for beginners & experienced helpers to provide hands-on experience in a small group are going well, though weather dependent. There are always tasks to do & you will be welcome. Check Dick’s blog at https://eythornebees.wordpress.com


From Pam Hunter, our Link Trustee: Please note that the contact for reporting suspected Asian hornets is alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk
Good news - an app has been launched recently -The ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app is available to download from the
Apple and Android app stores. 
Martin Smith, Public Affairs Manager at BBKA, said: This new app launched by Defra is a welcome addition to current reporting methods that have enabled beekeepers and members of the public to report possible sightings. The key to containment is catching outbreaks as early as possible and allowing fast tracking of the insects back to their nest. We encourage all our 25,000 beekeepers to install the app and use it if they see what might be an Asian hornet near their hives. 
 
This month’s meeting 
  • Saturday 26th May at our Eythorne Apiary, at Eythorne Court, Shepherdswell Road, Eythorne CT14 4AD 2:30 p.m. It is along 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, & others will demonstrate at the club’s hives, the hives have been assessed as to their quality & temperament by Dick & the Wednesday teams. Jackie & others plan to demonstrate different ways of swarm control, very relevant this month, & also using Apideas to raise new Queens. The progress of colonies can be compared with your own. Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. We have suits to borrow for beginners & observers. DDBKA has purchased some new smaller sizes for younger visitors.
  • Return your Library books & choose another!
  • Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. Bring your own mugs!!!!
I hope you will be able to come along.  
Best wishes.
Maggie.
 
 

Monday, 23 April 2018

Newsletter April 2018

Dear Beekeeper

Our speaker last month from Bees Abroad, Stuart Andrews, was delighted with your generosity after his interesting talk on beekeeping in Uganda and the charity's work to support this.


In the apiary:
At last you should have opened up your hives & discovered what has gone on.
I am aware of several who have had a nasty surprise, discovering that their colony which appeared to be fine in February/March has dwindled & died. Please let me know if you will be looking for bees/swarms this spring – we may be able to help. A couple of members have rejoined the swarm collecting list.

Oil seed rape flowers are almost out, later than usual, I hope you were able to follow Pam Hunter’s advice to build the colonies up before the rape becomes available.
Only one of my now 5 colonies listened to me…….

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.
Remember that bees need ample space to store & process nectar, it takes up less room once it becomes honey, legally below 20% water content.


Kent Bee Health Day:
Well done to all who signed up for the Bee Health Day at East Malling on Saturday April 28th.
The places are now sold out.
This popular and useful event has meant we are moving our April apiary meeting to
SUNDAY April 29th at the usual time of 2:30 pm at Eythorne. More below.

Wednesday evenings at Eythorne apiary:

Dick & Peter were very glad of the help given last month to remount the hives on more solid bases & in better positions. Many thanks to the hard working team!
Now the weather is better, they will be starting the Wednesday sessions at Eythorne at 6:30 pm, for beginners & experienced helpers to provide hands-on experience in a small group.

There are always tasks to do & you will be welcome.
Check Dick’s blog at
https://eythornebees.wordpress.com
Hope the link gets you there!


This month’s meeting: 

SUNDAY 29th April at our Eythorne Apiary, at Eythorne Court, Shepherdswell Road, Eythorne CT14 4AD 2:30 p.m.
It is along 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 hives will be assessed as to their quality & temperament by criteria which Dick will be explaining. The progress of colonies can be compared with your own. Bring clean suits, wellies & rubber gloves. We have suits to borrow for beginners & observers.

Return your Library books & choose another!
Tea [£1] and raffle as usual. Bring your own mugs!!!!

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes.
Maggie.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Newsletter March 2018

Dear Beekeeper

Another well-attended meeting last month. Andy Willis explained very clearly how to turn wax scrapings, combs, meltings & cappings into beautiful candles & blocks. His processing was lengthy & detailed, but produced wonderful prize-winning results with spotless wax.

Lots of space needed & the patience of other kitchen users could be tested. We all need a honey house or well-appointed shed! He was delighted that the audience was so sizeable.

In the Apiary:
March is the most risky time for our colonies, they may have eaten their stores, and this winter has been long, cold & wet with some severe cold snaps. And it's not over yet!
So feed your colonies with 1:1 syrup [1 pound white sugar to 1 pint water approx; or 1kg to 1litre] for their immediate use & to boost the queen laying. Remember a large body of bees will be needed for the rape crop. Keep the feeder topped up until nectar comes in.

Sadly, I have lost a colony - my first winter loss for 5 years. So please look after yours which are alive.
Close up & clean out any losses, scrape & torch the boxes & melt the solid honey remaining; save any good brood combs for nucs.

This month’s meeting:  

Saturday 31st March at Alkham Village Hall CT15 7BU 2:30 p.m.
Our speaker is Stuart Andrews, a national speaker representing Bees Abroad.
He will share insights into the lives of African beekeepers.
For some families it can be a way out of rural poverty & provide a family income.
It can also be the source of employment for workers & apprentices in honey processing & making wax products.
Come & find out more!

Tea [£1] and raffle [£1] as usual.

I hope you will be able to come along.

Best wishes

Maggie.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Newsletter February 2018

Dear Beekeeper

A super meeting last month, with over 70 attendees.
 
Pam Hunter gave a really useful summary of the benefits of oilseed rape crops to bees. Get feeding for the rape crop is her advice - large colonies will be more productive.
Pam is now our Link Trustee with the BBKA, a lucky coincidence that she was our first 2018 speaker.

Bees are starting to become more lively in between the downpours, so keep checking for hive weight & add syrup now if needed. I moved a hive this week to a new site, a cold, calm day was ideal, the bees were inactive & settled quickly in a new spot.

This is the time to plan which colonies will be your source for the queens to head the nucs you’ll make this year. Choose well-tempered, thrifty colonies to increase the stock.

CONGRATULATIONS!!
I circulated you with details of the Bees for Development monthly giveaway. Well, Julie Scott, from Swingfield, a DDBKA member, won the prize! A Thorne hive, ready assembled, worth £400. WOW! Well done Julie.
Definitely worth a try!

 
INTERESTING NEWS FROM MARY HILL:
Neonicotinoid pesticide residue in honey
Early in 2016 I answered a request in BeeCraft for samples of honey to be tested for neonics. I have just got the result.                                                                                                               
The honey I sent was 2015 which was the first year after neonics were banned for use with OSR although it is still allowed for some crops such as wheat. The results from 2014, i.e before the ban, showed that about 50% of honey had neonic residue in it. This was down to 20% from the 2015 samples. I was one of the 20% with 0.6 parts per billion of Clothianidin but neither of the other two.
One of the theories as to why this was happening was that when neonics are used as a seed dressing with wheat, only about 25% is used by the crop the rest may stay in the soil. So if a crop of OSR follows the wheat it could take up some of the residue from the soil. Another possibility is that wild flowers may absorb some from soil blown onto the headlands.
I am sending off some samples from 2017 when the research team is going to also analyse the honey to find out which plants the bees have been visiting. From the map of contributors to this work I note that there are probably two from Dover and one from Thanet. I should be interested to learn their results if they contact me.
If you are interested in joining the scheme, look on the website https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/national-honey-monitoring-scheme
 
 
This month’s meeting 
 
Saturday 24th February at Alkham Village Hall   CT15 7BU    2:30 p.m.
 
Our speaker is Andy Willis, very well-known as a national speaker.
He will be speaking on one of the things bees make, wax.
He made these lovely candles from wax given by many British BKAs as the BBKA’s gift on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
He knows all there is to know about harvesting, cleaning & refining beeswax.
See BBKA News  December 2012.
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! Philip will not be at the meeting. 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.
Maggie.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





 








 

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
Maggie



 

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
Maggie