The calendar of events, and details of this coming March’s Beginner’s Course, have now been updated for 2019.
We had a very successful year in 2018, with healthy colonies in the branch’s two teaching apiaries, a good harvest of honey, and an even better ‘crop’ of new and beginner beekeepers joining us. Fingers crossed that 2019 is equally successful.
Best wishes for the year to all our members and Friends.
Amanda, Branch Sec.
This coming Saturday the monthly meeting will be in our ‘winter quarters’ at Herne Mill, starting at 2.30 pm. As this is also the time of year when we hold our AGM, the meeting will be in two parts. The AGM itself will start at 2.30 (papers will be available on the day) and will probably last for about 45 minutes. You will see from the papers that we will be asking members and friends for suggestions relating to spending some of the branch funds in the coming year, so please come prepared to contribute ideas.
Following that, and with some refreshments to hand, we will have a session on ‘Equipment you don’t need’. For this, we would like all active beekeeping members of the branch to bring along (if possible) an item of equipment that they’ve bought/acquired at some stage in their time as a beekeeper but then found that it either wasn’t necessary or didn’t work as anticipated. It is recognised that everyone has different ways of working with their bees but we hope that this session will draw out some interesting and useful pointers for our beginners and novices (as well as causing nods of agreement – or disagreement – from fellow beekeepers). We expect the meeting as a whole will finish around 4.30.
Please note that parking space inside the Mill’s grounds is fairly limited, so if you arrive just before the start of the meeting it’s usually a good idea to park in the side road next to the Mill.
I look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.
For part of one of the autumn branch meetings we had an enjoyable 20 minutes sharing those ideas and good practice that made things better for us and our bees. In no particular order, these are some of the ideas put forward by members:
- Light your smoker before opening a hive, even if you were not intending to do much. You never know…
- When making syrup (particularly 2:1) warm the sugar first by putting the bags in a moderate oven for 10 minutes. The sugar will then dissolve much more easily when you mix it with the (hot) water.
- If you see a queen starting to be balled, powder heavily with icing sugar immediately (from the shaker you always keep in your bee box… 🙂 ). This often changes their minds.
- Have a look at the National Honey Show’s channel on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiOtIebcpY0Zqqma0H5wLYQ), to see the great series of lectures by experts at past shows.
- Don’t wash your hair just before going off to do a hive inspection. Some shampoo smells are not appreciated by bees.
- Always wash (in soda solution) your gloves, hive tool, and the handle of your smoker, between hives.
- The hood of your beesuit can go in the washing machine with the rest of your suit/jacket if you tuck it down into a sleeve (for the fencing type) or in the trunk of the zipped-up suit (if round type) first. Secure the opening of the suit with a safety pin and remember to tuck the velcro tab away from the veil as well.
- A see-through/polycarbonate crownboard makes it easier to check how many seams of bees you have in the winter.
- If you have a phone camera, taking some pictures up through the OMF in winter can provide reassurance that they’re still alive in there.
- Luggage scales are very useful in monitoring stores situation in winter. Weigh either both sides or front and back at each visit and compare over time to see how much is being used.
- A spray bottle filled with soda solution can be useful in rinsing gloves. Just be careful not to think it’s the one you filled with clean water for inspections in hot weather (when a fine mist of water can be more calming than smoke for the bees).
- A wallpaper steamer fed down into a box of old comb on a solid floor can melt out the wax very well (and is what the Thornes’ Easi-steam system is based on).
- If you go back to a hive after an inspection and having removed your beesuit, because there was something small you’d forgotten to do, the bees will not realise you were not intending to disturb them – “feeling lazy, I decided to quickly creep back and put my varroa floors in without putting my suit on. As I bent over the wind suddenly gusted and three poor bees got caught in the hair on top of my head and stung me. Later that day I looked like a dolphin.”
- If you want to make some cut comb honey, don’t put the super you want to use directly above the brood box as that is where the bees often store some pollen. Always put your cut comb super on after the OSR season and only on a strong colony.
- Dusting with icing sugar needs to be done regularly every seven days for a worthwhile drop in varroa levels over the season.
- An old duvet cover makes a secure container for a boxed swarm in the car (making sure to leave enough ventilation).
- Shaking a swarm into their new nuc/hive rather than running them in avoids having to deal with instances of them clustering under the new home rather than in it.
- Always check to make sure you’ve placed the central cup back over the access hole when using a rapid feeder of some type. Otherwise, you risk finding 100s of drowned bees when you next check them and feeling like a mass murderer.
- When doing a shook swarm, putting a single frame of uncapped brood into the new brood box along with the frames of foundation means that the bees are much less likely to abscond. Take it out and discard it after a week, when most of that brood has been capped, and you will also get rid of most of the phoretic mites that were on the adult bees.
The final Newsletter of 2015 is downloadable here: WHBNewsletterDecember2015
The best wishes to all for the coming year and good health for all of our bees.
Our AGM, and the following Honey Show, made for an interesting afternoon, last weekend.
At the AGM, it was clear that we have had a good year as a branch, as Julie’s ‘Secretary’s Report’ detailed, and Roger reported also on our increased funds in the branch. New branch officers were appointed by the meeting. The Minutes of the meeting are available here: Bees – Minutes of AGM November 2015.
The Honey Show saw a small but good collection of entries, some of which are shown in the photo below, courtesy of Tilly Bayes:
Some of the entries in the 2015 Honey Show
Last week’s branch meeting was a multi-faceted one, with hive inspections, information exchange, sales, and demonstration + advice for honey creaming. It was also a time for congratulations, as Diane, Ian, Maggy, Sally and Sandy have all passed their Basic Assessment, taken last month. We’re going to have so many knowledgeable beekeepers around if we go on like this… 🙂
Inspections of the branch hives went smoothly, with some newcomers getting their first experience of how a hive full of honeybees looks inside. Julie’s demonstration of honey extraction and how to make ‘creamed honey’ was well received, with many members interested in the process.
Looking forward to the autumn, there will be not only our own honey show to prepare for but also the giant National Honey Show (http://www.honeyshow.co.uk/). Julie will be circulating some more information and tips about this in her next Newsletter, so look out for that soon. There is also the Kent Festival of Bees, at the end of this month, at which our branch will have a stall.
Now that the sunshine and nectar flow seem to be established, and that long-lasting cold NE wind seems finally to have gone, most people’s colonies seem to be settling down. Our branch meeting last Saturday (27 June) was well attended and had a variety of activities for people to take part in. Those stalwarts about to take the Basic Assessment were busy practising hive inspections, another group were getting a (gentle) grip on how to mark queens by practising on drones, while others again were discussing the proper siting of a new swarm in a nuc, with a view to it settling down happily. It was a good meeting and our usual raffle raised some more money for branch funds, helped by the goodwill of those donating the prizes.
A reminder now that our ‘Honeybee Day’ takes place at the Horsebridge Centre in Whitstable this coming Saturday, from 11 am to 3 pm. Why not come along to support the branch, answer questions from the public, and try some of the newly-extracted branch honey.
Finally, three more pieces of information published recently (and that can be found also on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/359167444256663/ ):