Calendar of branch meetings and events in 2019

Monthly meetings at the campus apiary start at 2.00 pm unless otherwise specified. Those in the winter months, held at Herne Mill, start at 2.30.

2nd February: a talk, held at Herne Mill, on ‘How to prepare for the BBKA microscopy assessment‘. Using a microscope as a diagnostic and learning tool as a beekeeper offers so many opportunities to find out what may be affecting the health of your bees, or what plants they are foraging on (through identification of the pollen grains in their honey), or easier identification of small pests. In this talk, Julie Coleman will provide a clear explanation of how to get the best use from your/the branch microscope.

2nd March: This meeting is likely to be held in Herne Mill unless there is an early Spring, ie, it’s warm enough on the day (over 12C) to open the campus hives, but will provide plenty of opportunities to discuss preparation for the coming season including: general bee handling; reasons for opening a hive; smokers and fuel; general record keeping; record keeping for Queen rearing; colony selection; disease check.

23rd/24th March: Beginner’s Course – theory weekend. See for more details.

6th April: This month’s meeting will be at the campus apiary (temperature permitting) and will focus on: swarm prevention (Pagden method); swarming control – the Demaree method and its additional use in queen rearing; how to set up a nuc as part of swarm prevention; the uses of a Taranov board. NB: this meeting may start a little earlier than usual, time tbc.

4th May: This month we will mainly be focusing on: disease inspection and the use of varroa boards; shaking each frame during inspection in order to see the brood clearly; reasons for doing a ‘shook swarm’; what varroa treatments are available before/after supers are added; setting up mating nucs for queen rearing.

1st June: While the colonies are building towards full midsummer strength this month we will consider the many reasons for comb change, including how and why to do a ‘Bailey comb change’, plus ways of achieving new comb in both strong and weaker colonies.

6th July: With the end of the summer nectar flow approaching at the end of this month, for this meeting we will focus on the forthcoming honey harvest (assuming this summer’s weather has allowed one). The use of clearer boards and other methods of removing bees from full honey supers will be demonstrated, along with a discussion of honey extraction/filtering/storing/jarring/labelling.

3rd August: At this stage of the year, with any harvest of surplus honey being removed, it’s time to think about getting the bees into good shape for the autumn and stacking their brood boxes out with food. The use of different sorts of feed and feeders will be demonstrated, including Miller, Ashforth, rapid, contact, and frame feeder designs.

Late summer social event: We usually have a BBQ social event sometime between mid-August and mid-September. The date and venue for the 2019 event will be posted here when it has been finalised. All branch members and friends are welcome.

7th September: Making sure that each colony of bees is as healthy as possible going in to winter, to give it the best chance of surviving, is one of a responsible beekeeper’s main tasks. To this end we will have a full disease inspection of the hives at this meeting, along with inspection of previously-inserted varroa boards and a consideration of the different treatments available where there is likely to be a varroa infestation.

5th October: The later stages of preparation for winter, including an assessment of each colony’s stores, defending against pests such as mice and woodpeckers, and the possible advantages of hive wraps, will alll be considered this month. This will be the final apiary site meeting of 2019.

2nd November: Branch AGM, starting at 2.30 pm, to be held at Herne Mill. This will be followed, after some refreshments, by a session which will ask each member present to share one practical point or piece of information that they learned/found out about in the past season and which they intend to use next year.

7th December: this meeting, starting at 2.30 pm, will be held at Herne Mill. The first part of the meeting will have a presentation by Mike Elliott on the type of hive he uses in south London, while the second part will include a sharing/discussion of practical tips applicable across various levels of experience.