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Northern Lights

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

MARCH 2005

From the Apiary : What your apiary team were up to during February.

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Cleaning the ground & gardening
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Assembling the new hive stands

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Digging out and slabbing

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Moving the hives 3ft per week

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.....and a well deserved cup of tea!

Everyone has pulled together at the apiary to get the new bases dug out and slabbed. The new stands have been delivered (thanks to Kevin Stach), assembled and are now in pride of place. I think everyone visiting the apiary will agree that they look great. The 8 hives for the stands have gradually been moving 3 feet per week towards their new home and we hope that we will have achieved the move with minimal losses. Elsewhere the meeting shed has been spring cleaned and preparations have begun to get ourselves ready for the coming beekeeping year – equipment cleaned & sterilised and frames made up. Many of the bees have been getting to the end of their stores and have been fed with fondant to keep them going until the nectar flow begins in earnest.

Tony Wright (Patrick is away)

Chairman's Letter:

In March a beekeeper's mind is full of hope. It is an optimistic time, and half the fun of beekeeping is the uncertainty, not knowing what the season is going to bring. Those record cards we keep so carefully, will, in my experience, bear little resemblance to the colonies we end up with next August.  But looking back in August or September, I always remember the interest, what the bees have taught me, and how enjoyable it has all been. It seems to be a hobby where you are constantly called upon to do things you have never done before, or even dreamed of doing.

Whatever your hopes and plans this season, do get your bees strong early.   Fondant is a good feed to encourage to queen to lay, especially if the bees are not keen to take syrup.  It is true that there is risk of early swarming, but if the colonies become too strong,  it is helpful to make up a small nuc, e.g. three frames, with any good charged queen cell which might appear. Naturally this needs weekly vigilance.

I will be away in the land of the Kiwis for most of March, but Chris Tozer will be writing to you in April’s newsletter.    Beryl

Branch Library:

I have recently taken over as Branch Librarian. The books are being kept at my home in Kentisbury which I appreciate won’t be convenient for everyone but it certainly won’t be any more difficult to find than Albert’s cottage in the country! If you would like to browse through the collection, please give me a call and we can arrange a mutually suitable time. I am happy to post or e-mail a list on request to Northern Branch members. My phone number is 01271 882940.

In the meantime, I will bring a small selection to the meeting at the Castle Centre on Monday 14th March. Would members with outstanding loans, please take advantage of that opportunity to return them. I would respectfully suggest that three months is a more than adequate loan period.

The books are there for us all to enjoy and I want to make access to them as easy as possible for all members. Happy Reading!

Elizabeth Reynolds

Calling All Beekeepers…

The following correspondence has been received – a retail opportunity for someone able to supply in the Ilfracombe/Combe Martin area.

"I am looking for a source of local honey to stock in Berrynarbor Community Shop. We are trying to find local products to sell all year and aiming to launch this theme to coincide with the tourism season this spring. 

I appreciate that honey is a seasonal product and that stocks might be low now but if there is anyone out there who would be willing to supply us now, or in future years, please contact me ASAP. If you are interested please indicate availability, wholesale and recommended retail price, and whether you can

deliver (we are between Combe Martin and Ilfracombe). " Jill Massey

Spotted by Albert on the Irish Beekeepers website…

"It is salutary reading "Beekeeping" the Devon BKA magazine to see what turmoil the arrival of pyrethroid resistant mites has had there. To an outsider they appear a more cohesive and informed group than is generally found in beekeeping. How then is it going to be for us when resistance arrives?"    Robin Dartington (he of the hive fame)

Large Print:

If any of our members would like a large print (approximately this size) version of the newsletter please let the editor know.

Volunteer required:

Will 2005 be the year our Branch finally gets the Awards for All application off the ground?  Chris Utting has done a lot of the ground work, but he has many claims to his time.  An assistant could make all the difference this year.   Please apply to Chris

Floral Biology:

Kay Thomas needs no introduction to most of us.  As she has been teaching basic beekeeping in North Devon since 1982, nearly all the branch members have been her students.  Kay is a Master Beekeeper, a Honey Judge and a BBKA Examiner.    For the last three years she has held the position of Devon BKA President. On Monday 14th March Kay is giving a talk on 'Floral Biology' at The Castle Centre, Castle Street, Barnstaple starting at 7.30 p.m. 

Saturday 29 January 2005 at the South Park Centre, Buckfast

There was quite a good turnout; most branches were represented – including Holsworthy. Some notes on the main points discussed:

  1. Proposition from Northern Branch to change name to North Devon Branch was supported as being sensible and appropriate.
  2. Some initial tetchiness over DARG not being invited to join the DBKA marquee at the Devon County Show and the amount of  "profit" arising from the 04 Summer Conference, neatly countered by Treasurer Milford – it was a "surplus" not a "profit"!
  3. Terry Clarke’s innovatory observation chamber will be installed at the entrance to the DBKA marquee; if it "works" it will be purchased by the Association.
  4. All being well, a new DBKA Treasurer will be installed at the AGM (Saturday 19 March) – Richard Howes of Tavistock.
  5. Suggestion (accepted) that the annual sub for Country and Social members be increased to 11 in 06 to cover postage costs; some Branches already surcharge all their members to cover mailing costs.
  6. DBKA website now up and running: webmaster Henry Morris ;some 700+ hits already. We at North Devon Branch need to decide if we are going to post our news and events on DBKA website as well as our own.
  7. Buckfast Bee Day will be on Saturday 29 October this year; members 6, non-members 10.
  8. DBKA "training" video: clearly not universally accepted without reservation; constructive criticism welcomed – comments to Gen Sec
  9. DBKA President 05/06: several names proposed but no-one willing as yet; proposals to Gen Sec Glyn Berrington ASAP.
  10. Kay Thomas outlined her plan to raise funds to support Sri Lankan beekeepers; it was agreed that DBKA would support Kay’s plan and that after say six months, Kay would follow the BBKA policy of sending all such monies to Bees for Development, targeting Sri Lankan beekeepers specifically. All donations to Kay directly.

Next meeting: Saturday 23 April 05.                           

Mike Canham,  Branch Secretary, North Devon Branch

The Devon County Show:

This year is on 19th, 20th and 21st May.  We will need volunteers from our Branch, mainly to support our stall run by Judith Westcott, Elizabeth Reynolds and Peter Woollard, but also as general duties stewards. We would like a good selection and stock of plants suitable for bee forage for the team, and also some donations of one jar of honey for the honey-tasting stall.  The Show Secretary is always keen for more entries.  If

you can spare a day's stewarding, and incidentally have a good look at the magnificent show, please contact Chris Utting, (Chief of all the stewards). Chris will always be happy to answer your enquiries.


Disease Recognition Training Course:

There will be a one-day course locally on Disease Recognition and Liaison, to be run by our Regional Bee Inspector Richard Ball, on Saturday 4th June 2005.   As members are aware, many changes and Government cut-backs are taking place in the organisation of the National Bee Unit.  All our beekeepers must be vigilant about bee disease, and as a Branch we must be as self-sufficient as possible.  Details are not available yet, but please, keep this date free, and attend the course if you possibly can.

Forthcoming Events:

12th March & 23rd April: Skep Making Course
14th March: Floral Biology Course
19th March: President's Day  /  DBKA AGM
31st March: Logo Competition closes
9th April: Beeswax Handling Course
10th April: First 2005 Horestone Apiary Open Day
16th April: Stoneleigh Convention

100+ Club:

Branch Treasurer Kevin Stach is launching a season of fundraising in order to pay for improvements to the apiary at Horestone. First up is the 100+ Club. Members (not necessarily beekeepers) pay 1 month (12 year) and have the opportunity to win up to 25 each month. The balance of the funds will go to the apiary & the first job will be to convert the small shed into a hygienic area for honey bottling. 100 members are required to start us off so contact Kevin now for more information. Please make an extra special effort to make this a success by selling to family & friends. Kevin has sent application forms to all members which can be copied if required or additional forms can be obtained from Kevin.   

Middle East Honey Recipe:      Sent in by Jean Morris

Makes 30 pieces   
Oven Temperature 160C (325F)  
Cooking Time: 1 hour


20 sheets of filo pastry
cup of melted, unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1 cup finely chopped almonds
cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Eighth teaspoon ground cloves


1 cups sugar
1 cups water
cup honey
Thinly peeled strip of lemon rind
Small piece of cinnamon bark   
3 cloves
2 teaspoons of lemon juice


  1. Butter base and sides of 33 x23 x5cm (13 x9 x2 inch) oven dish and place 9 sheets of filo separately into dish, brushing each with melted butter.
  2. Mix nuts, sugar and spices and spread half of this mixture over filo. Top with another two sheets of filo, buttering each sheet
  3. Spread remaining nuts on top, and finish with remaining filo, buttering each sheet.
  4. Trim edges and brush top with butter. Cut Baklava with a sharp knife into diamond shapes. Sprinkle lightly with water to prevent top layers curling upwards.
  5. Bake on centre shelf in a moderately slow oven for 30 minutes. Move up one shelf and cook for further 30 minutes. Cover with greased brown paper or foil if top colours too quickly. Pastry must be allowed to cook thoroughly.
  6. When Baklava goes into the oven, make the syrup. Place sugar, water and honey in a heavy pan and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining       syrup ingredients, bring to the boil, and boil for 15 minutes. Strain and cool

Spoon syrup evenly over hot Baklava. Leave for several hours before cutting again and serving portions.

Northern  Branch Committee Meeting:

25th January 2005

This was a long meeting, as the first one after the AGM always is.  There is such a lot to get through and new officers feeling their way.  We are now arranging Committee meetings to happen just before Executive Committee meetings of the DBKA, this way the Committee can comment on the agenda of the EC meeting so our representatives attend primed with Northern opinions!

The 2005 Open Days were agreed as 10th April, 8th May, 12th June, 10th July, 7th August, 11th September and 9th October.   Other decisions on matters discussed are being/and will be made public on an individual basis. Judith Westcott

BBKA Members Register:

I have just learned that a number of our members - probably those who joined us in the last year - have never received mail from BBKA HQ e.g. new members 'welcome pack', copies of BBKA News and their annual membership card. I am trying to find out just how this has come about from the people at Stoneleigh who run the Members Register. Meanwhile if you have not received any of these items, please call me as soon as possible on 01271-372018. If I am out please use the friendly answer phone.

Mike Canham, Branch Secretary

Web Site for North Devon Branch:

The new website for the North Devon Branch is currently under construction and will be available for members to access and comment upon very soon. It is hoped that we can launch towards the end of the month. The webmaster is Kevin Tricker and if anyone has queries or contributions to make, Kevin can be contacted on . The web address will be:

Pages should be appearing towards the end of March.

Quiz Question for March: Which brewery has had bees on its logo since 1900?

February’s answer was Henry Fonda who kept bees from boyhood.

Edited by Marnie Quy, Email:
All contributions welcome, copy by 19th of month for following month publication.

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