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/ ):
At a time of the year when many of us may be thinking hopefully of honey, the latest BeeCraft Hangout focussed on that topic. If you weren’t able to join the live online session yesterday (Wednesday, 17 June) then the recording is now available here – http://www.bee-craft.com/honey-all-you-need-to-know/ to watch/listen to. It was an interesting session. We (the branch) will have our own session looking at honey preparation, when we have the monthly meeting at the end of July.
Today’s meeting had possibly the highest number of attendees (human ones) ever. With lots of new people to involve, plus another group who are going for the Basic Assessment this year and wanted guidance on preparing for that, as well as another few of us who were happy to help out all round, it was a busy afternoon – as can be seen from the photos below. Discussions before the inspection covered topical subjects such as swarm prevention, and how to do an artificial swarm using the ‘cup of tea’ method (for more details, ask someone who was there 🙂 ). Our branch secretary, Julie, and apiary manager, Keith, both had a busy afternoon and we and our bees made full use of the warm and pleasant day.
Lots of people, all learning something.
New potential beekeepers getting an introduction to what is involved.
Bees recovering after an inspection.
Bees and beekeeper, hanging out together.
Over 20 members attended our apiary at the University for the first open meeting of the year on 28th March.The day was overcast with a little misty drizzle, with a temperature of around 11C, so we went ahead with checking all the colonies for an active queen being there and the food status. Three hives had supers below their brood boxes and it was required that these were changed around or removed to make sure that the brood was all in the main box – the branch hives are not run on ‘brood and a half’, several of them being Deep Nationals as it is.
After an initial demonstration on one hive, those that were intending to take their basic assessment this year took on the balance of the hives. In two hives the green marked queens were seen together with eggs, larva and sealed brood. These hives were clearly low in liquid stores but had some granulated stores. The super below one of the brood boxes was removed, the odd bees in it being shaken back into the brood box and a contact feeder added with syrup.
The last hive was somewhat more active and needed to be subdued with more smoke than the others. This colony had several frames of mixed liquid and granulated stores together with 7-8 frames of brood in all stages. The super below this brood was removed and placed over a wire queen excluder to give the bees room while also allowing time for any brood to hatch – necessary with such a large colony build-up so soon in the year as we don’t want them pushed into feeling so cramped that they start to build swarm cells. No feeder was given to this colony.
After the inspection, our usual tea, cake, chat and raffle. It was a good meeting.
On Saturday 31st January we had a very interesting talk on ‘Queen rearing for the small beekeeper’ from Terry Clare, a national authority on queen rearing and a past-president of BIBBA. His style of presentation was unexpected but very very relevant and the outcome seemed so simple to understand by all levels of beekeeper. The importance of starting with bees that were as healthy as you could help them to be, that had been assessed over a whole previous season for valuable characteristics such as, for example, fertility, docility, health, non-following and no excessive swarming, was very encouraging for those of us with 3 – 8 colonies (who are apparently the norm in England). His clear outline of doing an artificial swarm with the chosen colony in May or June, so ending up with two colonies rather than one, was also well received. It was an inspired talk that all could understand and appreciate.
The branch meeting on 3rd January started in somewhat inclement weather. As we huddled in the meeting hut, our branch Secretary, Julie, gave a short presentation explaining the purpose of this seasonal Oxalic Acid treatment, as well as reminding those present about the importance of keeping good hive records
throughout each year as an aid to assessing each colony’s character and performance. As the weather cleared to merely damp, we then went to the bees.
The four branch hives had their roofs and crown boards removed, 5ml of Oxalic Acid was syringed down the space between each top bar where there were bees present; this varied between 5 and 8 applications per colony. The crown boards and roofs were then replaced quickly to avoid chilling, and we returned to the hut for tea and debrief.
A reminder about the new lecture series:
The lecture series at Tesco’s, entitled “The Beekeeping Year”, is being lead by Keith Hooker and starts next Saturday at 9.30am for 5 weeks. This leads into the “Beginning Beekeeping” series starting in February which has three practical sessions in March. All are welcome, beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike. More details can be found here: The beekeeping year
For anyone who has been watching news updates about the spread of Small Hive Beetle in the Calabrian region of Italy over the last few weeks (a very alarming prospect, given the number of bees imported into the UK from Italy this year ) it would probably be useful to join the online Google Hangout being put on by BeeCraft next Wednesday, 19th November. You can join the Hangout from this page: http://www.bee-craft.com/beekeeping/hangouts/ . If you want to express your concern about the current situation and send a message to DEFRA to do something constructive to protect our bees, then you might also consider signing and sharing the petition that’s been set up here – https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-small-hive-beetle-spreading-to-britain
Our branch meeting for November had originally been intended to cover the use of beeswax for making creams and cosmetics. This has not, unfortunately, been possible to arrange and there will therefore instead be a session at the branch apiary on checking hives for their winter preparedness.
The branch committee met earlier this week and Julie will shortly be circulating news and information arising from that.