The Newsletter of the North Devon Branch of the
British Beekeepers Association
Wonderful weather for honeybees and their keepers, long may it last. However, now
is the time to plan your action for the autumn season. The plague of wasps we
usually get in August has not shown itself so far. If there are wasps around, check
over your hives for even the smallest gap or crack where wasps could enter. Reduce
your entrances, and don't leave any feed - honey or syrup - around. Beeswax too
should never be out and available to bees. Prepare your supers with the bee
escapes if you are taking off sealed honey, and remove the boxes as late in the
day as possible. Give the robbers absolutely no encouragement.
The best feed for the winter is a super of the colony's own honey. If you can't
manage this ideal, a colony will need about 35 lb of full strength syrup, or a mixture of
the two, but you don't need to feed yet. If there is a young queen from earlier
this year, plenty of young bees, and room enough for the queen to keep laying, they should
over-winter well. Think about a brood and a half, that is, remove the queen excluder
from between the brood box and the super of honey or syrup when the weather turns colder.
Have your Varroa treatment at hand to administer when the time comes.
There's loads more to consider, but it amounts to a sizeable book.
Thanks to those who bought a bag of my Honey Fudge at the various events we have had
recently, I now have enough money for the new Branch honey labels, and I hope to
have some samples to show soon.
Notice that our Honey Show Schedule is enclosed with this month's Newsletter. A
big thank you is due to Kevin Tricker for the illustrations, gleaned from many
sources. This early publication (don't lose it) is to allow all the members to
consider which classes to enter, and maybe practice a few of the recipes, or the wax
candles etc. Alicia Normand will be giving a Wax Handling demonstration on
14th September, which marks the beginning of our winter program of talks at the Castle
Centre. Don't miss it. Beryl
|From The Apiary:
As managers, it is rewarding to see all
groups happy with their achievements to date. Our teachers will soon be
deciding what medicaments we will use to combat the dreaded Varroa and when we
will use them. We can then concentrate on feeding and preparing all colonies for the
winter. After that, the small matter of equipment repair and replacement along
with the regular maintenance and repair of buildings etc etc.
Sue and Tony
Kay, George & Peter hard at work.
|An Alternative View:
Those (like me)
who have had problems with queenlessness this year & have blamed it on the weather or
birds taking queens whilst mating, may be interested to read an alternative viewpoint by
Roger Patterson. Those of you with internet access can go to the BBKA website www.bbka.org.uk and follow the links for news or to go
straight to the article, click here
I am in communication with Roger and will give a more in depth view of his article next
month for those without access to the net. Alternatively there is a copy at Horestone
|Select Few Required!!
dissatisfied with the beekeeping tools of the trade? Do you think you could do better? I
am looking for a few like minded people to join me in a new group to look at innovation in
beekeeping products. You'll need to have some ideas and at least some of the skills to put
those ideas into practice - between us we should have all the skills that we need to look
at new products and to improve on existing equipment. Initial projects that have been
suggested are a changed design for a bee-suit, an uncapper and the smoker.
Anyone interested to talk more should contact Kevin Stach either by Email: email@example.com or by writing to me. Can I
also suggest that you have a look at 'Beekeeping Equipment (caveat emptor)' by J.D. Yates.
It can be obtained through Northern Bee Books.
|New Branch Logo:
You may have noticed the new branch logo as voted for by the members from a
selection presented a few months ago. The new logo was designed by Chris Utting
and his explanation of the design is as follows:
"Firstly the location of the name of the branch indicates North Devon area if the
DBKA logo represents the area and shape of the county. Secondly the logo is combined with
the DBKA logo so that a separate DBKA logo is not necessary."
|A Motoring Icon for sale:
1303 saloon PBE 524M in Senegal Red with black interior. Sound and complete but ready for
renovation, reupholstering and a respray. Off-road and stored in a dry garage for the last
2½ years, battery charged and engine turned regularly. Must go to a good home; offers
|The harvest safely gathered in
but what about my back!!
When I first planned my
out-apiary at Blagdon Manor, it was early Spring and the grass was ankle high.
Consequently, I made what I thought at the time was a sensible decision to site the
colonies up the top of the field, tucked into the corner of 2 hedgerows and well away from
the road. So it was some 60 yards from the gate into the field and my parked car so
I now know better. It is high summer and time to harvest two full supers of honey. This
year, the owners had not had the field cut and the grass and assorted weeds, brambles,
ferns etc. are now waist high or even higher. I had, the previous day, fitted the excluder
board and the bees have virtually all left the supers. The weather is warm and sunny, the
bees are well behaved. Wonderful!! All is proceeding to plan.
Being a lazy sort, I contemplate carrying both supers together to the car to save two
journeys, but wisely decide that they are just a wee bit too heavy. So, I start off across
the field with just one super clutched to my manly chest.
20 yards on and I realise that I have made a mistake or more like two. I
have kept on my bee suit, as well as my glasses. With my exertions to plough through the
assorted foliage and the cloying insulation of the bee suit, my glasses are steaming up,
and I cannot clearly see where I am going.
|Brambles and weeds snag at my feet, causing me to stumble and adopt a sort
of high stepping motion which brings to mind images of the horses of the Spanish Riding
School in Vienna must look really funny to any onlooker - hope there arent
any! I have lost my original path through the grass, so I am traversing virgin
40 yards and my arms are starting to burn with the weight and
my back is aching. Progress is slow as my superheated body is producing clouds of vapour
and further restricting my visibility. Do I stop and rest but where? I resolve to
carry on. Stumble, stumble, I finally reach the gate to find my third mistake. I
have conscientiously shut it, and there is no way I can open it - a brief attempt to
"juggle" the super with one hand nearly results in disaster. I accept the
inevitable, deposit it on the ground, open the gate, strain yet more muscles lifting a now
grass-strewn super back to chest level, and finally reach the car. Lap one completed. I
cannot believe how much effort that took. A brief rest is in order.
Kevin on his Mk1 "Super-Trooper, bringing in the honey crop. It
even cuts grass as well. Unfortunately, it cannot be used at the Blagdon Manor
A return to the colony and I decide to ditch the suit
.and glasses. Being
stung has to be preferable to boiling alive. The second trip starts out better, with
visibility much improved, but fatigue sets in much earlier, the back is protesting more,
and my legs are reluctant to step as high. Result - more stumbles, slower progress
and more pain!! I (and the super) finally make it back to the car, but my personal
fuel tank is nearly empty and I still have to go back a third time to replace the
roof and collect my assorted bee gear. Thank goodness I only took off two of the
At harvest time, beekeeping is a young mans game always remember to take
one with you. If you prefer the fairer sex, then a number of Russian shot putters
spring to mind!
|100+ Club News:
|What We Have Been Doing With The Money:
What next is that we need more members so that we can get to the full draw. Another 15
members means that we have the 100 we need. And we also need to raise more money to
complete the work begun in the apiary -. So please dig deep buy a membership for
yourself or as a gift and encourage your friends to do the same. Only £12 for a whole
years membership which gives a better chance of winning than the lottery and adds to
apiary funds at the same time. For a membership form contact Kevin Stach on 01237 478631
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The middle shed at the
apiary has been transformed! New flooring and dairy-board cladding on the walls means that
we now have a hygienic area to process honey for sale.
|Basic Beekeeping Course:
still a few places left on this course for complete beginners. It is held at the North
Devon College at Sticklepath Hill, Barnstaple starting on Wednesday 28th September 7.00 to
9.00 pm. It consists of at least 36 hours of instruction with six evenings in the
Autumn term followed by six evenings in the Spring term and then six afternoons of
practical instruction at Horestone Apiary. The course follows the syllabus of the
BBKA Basic Certificate in Apiculture. Learn about manipulation of a colony, what to do and
not to do, natural history of the honeybee, equipment, bee diseases and pests and how to
deal with them. Course fee £110.
Enroll with Kimberley Palmer, Customer Services Manager, at the College on 01271 338029
Chris and Beryl
by the editor! Let me
know what you want to see in your newsletter. I would appreciate any input by
members. Contact details at end of newsletter. Marnie
Rosemore Family Day:
What a lovely day (Sunday), the weather was perfick.
Our stand was up and ready quite early (well 9.30 is early on a Sunday morning), there
were very few visitors until about 11.30 then a steady flow for the rest of the day.
The Solar Wax Extractor made by Luke Baker drew a great deal of
attention. Tony found out that the temperature inside was very hot (he tested it with his
Younger visitors showed a lot of interest, and had great fun Queen Bee spotting; the
varroa slide also got their attention. Our future beekeepers!
Everyone was fascinated by Brians information on Bumble Bees; thanks to him we
now know a great deal more about them.
A number of ex-beekeepers came to the stand and got an update on the present situation,
some were even thinking of starting again.
The day was well worth the effort we all put in.
David & Jean Morris
|North Devon Show:
All our plans fell neatly into place. The tickets and car
passes were handed out. There was a little honey to sell. The leaflets were
ready. The drapes, flowers and foliage were on hand. Just the bees to be
put into the observation hives and we were nearly ready. So Tuesday evening was just
a matter of getting the tables laid out and the observation hive in place.
After an early night we were up with the lark and all met at 8.30 to finish the stall
preparation. A few left it a little late and paid the price of joining the traffic
queues for longer than they wanted. Just after 9.00 all was ready and the
public were starting to pour into the show ground in their thousands - and at £9.00 a
time! It was easy to get lost as the Show appeared much bigger than last year
and there was so much going on and lots to see.
But the public were so interested in our little stall. They were fascinated
by the 'Pick a Larvae' run by Brian Marchant that included a simple biology lesson
for the children and a bit more on Varroa for the grown ups. Luke Baker was
on hand to explain his new design of a solar wax extractor. The observation
hives and the posing queens were a fascination to everybody. The children who
spotted the queen were given a sticker 'I Saw The Queen' as a reward. By
mid afternoon we had nearly sold out of everything and our shelves were nearly bare except
for a few wax blocks!
|Winter Program For Your Diary:
September 14th Wednesday Talk by Alicia Normand on "Beeswax".
Alicia lives in Teignmouth and will bring lots of examples of cleaning wax, making moulds,
October 18th Tuesday Talk by Chris Utting "Apimondia in Dublin".
November 26th Saturday 6.30 p.m. Branch AGM followed by a talk by Dr.
Dhafer Benham on "Bagdad Beekeeping"
December 10th Saturday Skittle Evening at The Plough Inn, Bickington
January 27th Friday Talk by Brian Marchant on "Pollen" or
February 17th Friday Talk by Malcolm Blake from Somerset "The Answer
Lies in the Comb" about frame management
March 17th Friday Talk by Kay
Thomas on "Floral Biology"
April 14th Friday Talk by David Charles "Going to the Heather"
Our meetings will be held at The Castle Centre, Castle Street, Barnstaple unless otherwise
described. Raffles are to be held most evenings to help cover the costs with prizes
donated by members. Members will be invited to bring and share food. More
details on each talk nearer the time.
The first meeting will be September 14th Wednesday starting at 7.30 p.m. at The
Castle Centre, Castle Street, Barnstaple. A Demonstration and Talk by Alicia Normand
Alicia is a member of Newton Abbot Branch and has won many show prizes for her beeswax
candles including the National Honey Show. She is traveling all the way from Teignmouth
and will bring lots of examples of her work. She will demonstrate how to clean wax, use
moulds, prepare wicks, make candles etc. Please bring and share supper and
also some draw prizes.
|Me And EFB - The Sequel:
Last month I
told my sad story of the disease in the quarantine apiary. Now time has moved on. My
Bee Disease Insurance claim covered the brood and super frames and honey from two large
colonies that had to be destroyed by burning and amounted to £140. The cheque arrived
only eleven days after I sent in the claim.
I then had to wait six weeks before the Standstill Notice could be lifted. In the
meantime the two colonies that had the EFB had a Shook Swarm and as a result both
developed and filled the new foundation very quickly with nectar and the queens soon
started to lay brood. Soon they both had a super of honey. I checked all the nucs
and colonies and they looked healthy but the nucs were growing fast. Soon the nuc boxes
were too small and the bees had to be put into National brood boxes. Exactly six
weeks after the EFB was found I asked Peter Auger to carry out his revisit. All
were cleared! The Nucs (now colonies) were distributed to the patient beginners.
This was the best and most satisfying part as they were so excited to get their
first honeybees and to be told; "Now you are a beekeeper!"
Many of our members
will recall the Reverend Capener, who was one of the Honey Judges at this year's
DBKA Honey Show at the Devon County Show last May. This learned gentleman is also the Hon
General Secretary of the National Honey Show, which will take place 20th - 22nd
October at the RAF Museum, Hendon, where there is free car parking. His
committee offer free admission to the NHS to all those who have joined the
Association during 2005. To take advantage of this, all you have to do
is contact Branch Secretary Mike Canham, give him your name as intending
to go to the Show, and the list will be on the reception desk when you arrive.
In addition, all first time exhibitors and those who have not exhibited within the last
ten years will not be required to pay any entry fees FOR THE FIRST FOUR CLASSES entered in
this year's Show.
There is a list of inexpensive overnight accommodation situated near the museum - the
museum itself is absolutely fascinating. Let me tell you that just to see the standard of
presentation of exhibits at this show is worth making the journey. Lectures are
going on throughout the show. Come on North Devon, broaden your horizons!
Maybe organise a mini bus for a day trip - say on the Friday!
|Presentation Of Exhibits:
about Presentation: Within the North Devon Branch, we have a few very competent
exhibitors. We are very proud of these members, and can only wonder at the
perfection of their preparation. On Sunday, 2nd October, at 2.00pm, Jack
Mummery has agreed to give a Talk on Presentation of Exhibits. There will
be ample opportunity for discussion, for asking your questions and finding out just
what lifts an ordinary jar of honey, or a block of wax, into the super grade. The
talk will take place at Horestone Apiary. Be there. Tea as usual.
|New Leaflets From The National Bee
Hot off the press are two new leaflets from NBU. The old edition of
'Managing Varroa' was published in 1996 and consisted of sixteen pages. The latest edition
with the same title now has forty-four pages stuffed with all the latest information on
IPM etc. Another parasitic mite of honeybees is approaching the UK from Asia and a
sixteen page leaflet on 'Tropilaelaps' has been published. Don't be downhearted as this is
a mite which is a lot easier to control than Varroa. Its weakness is that it cannot
survive outside sealed brood for more than a few days. This can be exploited by the
beekeeper. The problem is that together with an A4 envelope these leaflets weigh
about 278g. If you would like a set send an addressed envelope with a 71p
stamp to Chris Utting, Alternatively, you can pick them up at Horestone apiary on a
Last month I reported on a
particularly aggressive colony and the measures taken to remove it to a place of safety.
Several beekeepers have asked both Tony and myself why we didn't just destroy the colony?
The answer is that other than the aggression which we had learnt to predict & live
with, it was a particularly good colony. Lots of bees, lots of honey (2 crops per year -
even last year) and never showed any inclination towards swarming - not even a single
queen cell. Given all that it was decided to give them a second chance which we did by
relocating them to a field on a farm with access only to beekeepers and a few sheep behind
Two days after the move the bees were still strongly aggressive stinging and
following quite some distance. It was decided that more drastic measures were required and
on a fine day a few days later the queen was removed to a
nuc with 3 frames of brood. A close watch was kept on the original colony which responded
by clustering underneath the hive and producing wild comb.
Six weeks later the colony has settled down, has re-queened itself, the queen mated and
is now laying what looks like good brood. The hyper defensive behaviour is
no longer a feature; they didn't get tetchy even when we took off two supers of honey.
Incidentally the old queen is going great guns in the nuc and guess what - no
defensive or following behaviour either!
They still have to make it through the winter but so far - all's well that ends well!
What will be interesting next year is a comparison of the honey crop
|The BBKA Basic Assessment:
With the able support of Chris and Beryl, on the 15th August, 6
members of the Branch recently took the BBKA Basic Assessment at the Horestone Apiary.
They had also attended a revision day the previous week at which Chris ran through the
syllabus, ably assisted by Beryl and Peter Auger, and had tried to answer the varying
questions posed by the students including some completely unrelated to the
Anyway, results are not yet known but we are quietly confident that we will have all
passed with flying colours.
As ever, our heartfelt thanks must go to Beryl, Peter and particularly Chris for
organising for the necessary inspection hives to be available, arranging for the
attendance of 2 assessors, providing hospitality for all who attended the sessions,
running the refresher day with all its associated handouts and, finally, coping with the
stressed examinees after their individual "inquisitions". You gave us every
chance to succeed chaps. Any failure is down to us !
|Quiz Question for September:
which Shakespeare play would you find the following verse:
"The honey-bags steel from the humble bees,
And for night tapers crop their waxen thighs,
And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes,"
The answer to last months question was that famous honey addict, Winnie The Pooh!
|Edited by Marnie Quy.
All contributions welcome, copy by 19th of month for publication in following