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.
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 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.
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.
Linked here is a downloadable pdf of the report put together by Keith Hooker, using some of the photos he took yesterday. It was a good meeting and several members commented how useful it had been.