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Northern Lights

The Newsletter of the North Devon Branch of the British Beekeepers Association

January 2005

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Albert Cannon presents the Honey Show trophies to (left to right) Jack Mummery, Kay Thomas and Tony Wright
at the 2004 AGM

Devon Beekeepers’ Association Northern Branch Honey Show

St Johns Garden Centre, Barnstaple 6th & 7th November 2004

Honey, wax and photography – Mr. S.D.Ide
Cookery classes – Mrs M. Kelland.

DBKA Northern Branch Trophy KAY THOMAS.
The Yeo Jenn Trophy JACK MUMMERY
The Croyde Cup W.F.VANSTONE
The Hustwayte Plate BERYL SMAILES
The Bernard Pritchard Trophy TONY WRIGHT
The Beryl Trophy KAY THOMAS
The Weaver Trophy KAY THOMAS
The Blue Ribbon TONY WRIGHT

Other winners were Peter Blackerby, Albert Cannon, Alan James, George Lake, Brian Marchant, Jean Morris, Bernadette Smoczynska, Kevin Stach, Chris Tozer, Chris Utting and Peter Warrilow.

Thanks must go to everyone involved and WELL DONE to all of the contestants – particularly the winners but also to everyone who took part!! Start planning for next November…

Chairman’s Letter:

Greetings Northern Branch members. I hope 2005 will be a very happy & prosperous year for you, and for our association. There is much to look forward to, and with an expanding membership and many new officers, much we can achieve. It is a hard era for honeybees and their keepers, times are changing. If ever there was a need for clear thinking, for definition and acceptance of our responsibilities, it’s now. I believe the new generation of beekeepers will be well trained, purposeful, even inspired. Winter is a great time for making your plans for the coming season, and also for making resolutions.

As we shape the year to come, we must keep one eye always on the past. We have a great heritage in Northern Branch. Many of our regular officers will carry on, but a big debt of gratitude is due to the retiring officers, most of whom have given many years of unstinting service. I am thinking of Albert Cannon, George Lake, Joy Hamilton, Jack Mummery – marvelous people who have kept us on track & up to date. Now we welcome Patrick Maxwell, Chris Tozer, Kevin Stach, Judith Westcott, Tony Wright, Marnie Quy and Elizabeth Reynolds. All are gallantly considering how they can fulfill their new jobs. So hold on tight dear friends, take all the courses you can, come up with your ideas to our new Northern Lights editor, resolve to be the best beekeeper possible, and just enjoy one another’s company.         Beryl

From the Apiary:

 The modest plan for next year at your North Devon Apiary is simply to make it the best apiary in England. We have the skills and energy, the talent and the wit. And lots more.

There are four autonomous sections in the one united apiary – two hives for the training of beginners, two hives for testing and research, eight hives for commercial products such as nuclei and honey, propolis etc and one hive for the joy of handling bees.

The Apiary regulars are figuring out how to:

  • protect our hives from resistant Varroa and the coming Small Hive Beetle;
  • make our record keeping easy and consistent;
  • improve the layout and the beauty of the place;
  • make clear our different roles and responsibilities.

What I enjoy about the Tuesday afternoons is seeing that we are an organism, not an organization. There is a motley bunch of people spread across the grounds happily pruning apple trees or fixing gutters, laying hedges, painting woodwork, entertaining painters with some dubious anecdotes, shredding foliage, laying out foundations, making tea; no one’s giving orders yet everyone is busy. That’s what I call productiveness. It’s special.

We’ve had calls for help from un-handy members. In the New Year Chris and Kevin and Tony will hold a few practical sessions down at the Apiary showing how to repair hives, build Varroa floors, make up frames etc. This is not a joke! All three of them together will certainly manage to help you get at least one nail in straight.

Have a Happy New Year.    Patrick

Obituary - Dr Janet Kear OBE

It is with deep regret that I report the sad loss of Dr Janet Kear,OBE, who died of a brain tumour at South Molton hospital on November 24th.

I met her through her husband John Turner our erstwhile Apiarist and Ken and I were privileged to spend many hours in her company. She has visited the apiary on our social occasions and talked of her beloved birds to our AGM.

If it wasn’t for John telling us we would never have known that she was an Honorary Professor, World Famous for her work with Geese and Ducks, the author of several books and scientific papers. For thirteen years she was the Director of Martin Mere Nature reserve in Lancashire, on her retirement she and John moved to their tiny cottage in Kingsnympton. In the garden is a huge feeding tray which attracts a myriad of birds and John has filled the surrounding woods with nest boxes for them. We often heard her talk of the trials of driving to Liverpool where she was a Trustee of their Museums and of one occasion having to make a decision between a dull 6"- 4"work by Picasso or an inspirational piece by some lesser known artist. She frequently visited Jersey Zoo where she mentored two PhD students and traveled the world in her role as Trustee or President of Everything Birdlike.

The official obituaries can tell of her scientific life, I can only tell of the softly laughing, gentle lady who graced my home, talked of everyday things, making pastry, cooking pheasants, or whether they should have 70 or 100 guests at their next garden party.

I cannot believe that such a beneficent life has come to an end. My heart goes out to John in his grief.             Kay Thomas

Obituary -  Maurice Dowson

I regret to have to inform the members of the death of Maurice Dowson of Torrington. Maurice has been a member of Northern Branch for many years and was a very knowledgeable and capable beekeeper. He worked as a Seasonal Bee Inspector for MAFF. Over the last few years Maurice kept hives in a bee shed in his garden in the centre of Torrington.  It amused him that the neighbours didn’t even know they were there.          Chris Utting

Northern Branch Great Logo Competition

It has been suggested that Northern Branch should have it’s own logo, which I think is a splendid idea. It would help our identity, and it would be useful on many occasions of communication, e.g. with our proposed website. A logo should be simple and clearly recognizable, saying what it represents at a single glance.   It could also be witty, artistic or amusing but in monochrome only please! Have a look round at other logos, design your entry and send it to Marnie Quy (address etc at end of newsletter) without delay.   GO FOR IT!               Beryl

Book Review: The Shamanic Way of the Bee
(Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters)
by Simon Buxton 16.99

We keep our bees for honey or we keep our bees for the love of bees. Underneath our stated aim is one that cannot be pinned down for either love or honey. Whether we are able to express it, or recognise it we have a human longing for union, for oneness, for being in harmony with all that is.   A colony of bees exemplifies that harmony.   When we quietly hold a brood frame in our hands on a balmy summer afternoon, when the sound of humming rises from a well contented colony, then we sense that harmony, and in the deepest core of being we rejoice and for a moment we are at one with existence.

Shamanism builds a bridge between this world and the other hidden universe; between everyday mundane reality and another underlying truth. The Shamanic Way of the Bee tells the story of Mr Buxton’s visits into other worlds and his training on the ‘Path of Pollen’. After months of working with a Bee Master he is ready for Initiation.

He is seated with the Master and a glass of mead. The Master takes five bees and stings him in five places on his throat and temples and his crown. He enters into an alternative reality. He becomes aware of sunlight streaming through the entrance of the hive. He feels an overwhelming fear. He is an outsider, an alien in the hive and all the members will, for sure, attack him, sting him to death and eject his body. As time passes and no one attacks him his fear abates. Later he feels hungry and takes food from the racks of honey and pollen. He realises that no one will attack him. He realises he is a drone. He becomes fully at home and integrated in the hive. His memory of being human fades and fades. A virgin queen emerges from a cell and now he understands that his work, his exclusive reason for being alive, is to fertilise this Queen. When she leaves the hive he is with her and in the rising drama of her nuptial flight he races after her and mates with her. In one final ecstatic moment he fertilises her and leaves the body of the drone. The author spent three weeks in and out of this separate reality, living on honey and pollen and water.

Through such an experience and through other learning devices, the author is gradually introduced to an ancient secret knowledge that has existed quietly in Britain and the continent over many thousands of years. The learning is not mental but experiential.

Shamanism is a practical system of both healing and spiritual development that is here being made public for the first time: - as is happening presently in many other esoteric traditions.

This book may not be everyone’s cup of tea, - for example both experienced beekeepers and those experienced in the esoteric – may find it light on information but for me it was a long awaited and refreshing drink outside the usual library of beekeeping’s didactic books.              Patrick Maxwell

Retail Opportunity

BALLENTYNE'S is a delicatessen shop in Butchers Row, Barnstaple which specialises in local produce.   They are looking for a supply of local honey.

Subscriptions are now due!

Your 2005 subscriptions are now due. Please send payment together with a Gift Aid form to Kevin Stach ASAP. Make sure that you are adequately insured for the total number of hives you expect to have during the year. If any member is not happy about the accuracy of their name & address in the DBKA yearbook the corrections should be sent to Mike Canham, Branch Secretary before the end of January.

Next Branch Meeting

By popular request Glyn Davies will be at The Castle Centre, Castle Street on Monday 17th January 2005 at 7.30 p.m.  Glyn is currently the
BBKA President and the DBKA Spray Liaison Officer and will be giving a talk entitled 'A Beekeeping Revolution'.  We hope to hold a draw and welcome any donations of draw prizes.
Skittles Skill?

Ho Ho Ho!  The annual game of "Killer Skittles" made for a very enjoyable evening at the Plough Inn on Thursday 16th December.  It was good to see so many friends gathered in the bar, before we all trouped out, up the stairs at the back, into the alley.

Kay Thomas and Dennis Richards kept the scores - amongst a certain degree of ribaldry.  Tony Wright set 'em up at the other end, and from start to finish the amazing unpredictable twist and turns of the results kept us on the edge of our seats. Some made a quick exit, some hung on in there till almost the end.  Skill had something to do with it I suppose, but not a lot.    Dennis won the gentlemen's prize, modesty forbids me to say who won the ladies' prize, but I did go home with a bottle of wine.

After all that frantic excitement we got down to the serious eating.  Loads of hot and cold food had been laid out, far more than we could eat, all of it delicious.  So congratulations to Carole the cook and to all who turned up and took part. All good clean fun and nobody got stung.               Beryl

Quiz question for January: Which fictional detective retired to become a beekeeper? Answer next month or if you want to know before then call or email but you’ll have to guess first!!
And finally…thanks to Joy for all her hard work on the newsletter last year. I am your new editor but I am a relatively new beekeeper (less than a year) so please feel free to point out any glaring errors or omissions – hopefully there won’t be any! And I’m also asking for your help. We have over a hundred members of Northern Branch but very few contribute to the newsletter. Don’t be shy – if there is something you have found interesting, the chances are that the rest of us will as well. Hive observations, bee book reviews, anything you like. And if you have bee questions or problems then let me know – I wouldn’t presume myself but I’ll find someone to give you an answer or we could even have an open debate! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this month’s newsletter and to Judith Westcott for the photos of some of the Honey Show trophy winners at the AGM.                       MQ
Edited by Marnie Quy.     Email:     
All contributions welcome, copy by 19th of month for publication in following month’s newsletter.

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