Wednesday 14 December 2011

Newsletter December 2011

Dear Beekeeper

Our season finished on a high note with an auction of goods, yielding £162 for Brian Castle and £33 for DDBKA. Len did a good loud job! The following DVD was a fascinating close up view inside a colony through the year.
Thanks to members who provided extra refreshments and to the ladies who organised it all.

Len will be attending the BBKA Delegate meeting in January and will give a brief report at the AGM in January. That will be our next meeting: January 28th 2012

At that meeting, your subscriptions will be due for the year, Len will be happy to accept payments before then. £15 goes to BBKA, and a minimum of £2 to Bee Diseases Insurance, depending on how many hives you have. Our Association only gains £6 per Registered member. 

Len hopes lots more of you will pay by bank transfer and hand him the form at the AGM.

Bees have been using energy flying until recently, so even if your bees had accumulated enough stores, their stores should be checked regularly. Make sure your hives are watertight, weighted down in gales and check for woodpecker damage, usually once it has turned cold. Look for a build up of dead bees behind mouseguards, this can block necessary flying on fine days. If using oxalic or lactic acid as varroa treatment, wait for a calm, cold day, 6 degrees or below and work quickly. It provides an opportunity for adjusting frames, making sure the winter cluster is in the centre of the brood box and that it is in contact with stored honey, to avoid “isolation starvation”. Take some fondant or candy with you in case they are low on stores.

Candy Recipe
[slightly different to previous one, there are lots of variations]
250ml water
1000g[1kg] white sugar
half teasp. white vinegar
Boil liquids, add sugar, stir, boil and stir for 5 minutes, cool slightly over cold water, then beat with electric hand mixer. Turns white, pour quickly into plastic containers e.g.“take away” ones. It sets fast! Invert over the feed hole in the crownboard.

I hope someone gives you the gift of a good up-to-date beekeeping book this Christmas, to read in the warmth, or maybe a longed for gadget [there seem to be so many].
Seasons greetings to you all, with best wishes for your good health and high hopes for a successful year of beekeeping in 2012.


Tuesday 29 November 2011

From the archives.....

C.F. Gee,Sept 1932,Taneatua

Behold, here is the very picture of beekeeping success: Charles Frederick Gee, who won the Hamlin Cup at the National Honey Show in 1932. Though he emigrated to New Zealand, where this picture was taken, he originated from Dover, as his DDBKA exam certificate from 1916 proves!

To this day, the Hamlin cup is one of the most sought after and prestigious awards.  There were 243 classes in this year’s National Honey Show and the Hamlin Cup goes to the winner of class 1 - twenty four jars of honey which may consist of one, two, three or four kinds. It is a very difficult thing to do well.
In the year prior to C.F. Gee, the recipient of the cup was R O B Manley, a highly important early 20th century beekeeper.

Hopefully this will inspire you all and someone will take up the challenge and bring home the cup to the DDBKA once again in the near future.

This story comes to us courtesy of Bob Maurer's correspondence with C.F. Gee's granddaughter Ana, who still resides in New Zealand and the kind help of  top honey judge Mike Duffin, who searched his archives for confirmations.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Newsletter November 2011

Dear Beekeeper 

What a good show we had, Chris did a great job.

Well done to Roy Dyche for best in show award for his honey. Mavis and Maggie wanted to thank Kate and Mannetta who did some serious washing up through the afternoon. It was good to see so many new members having success.

Exam success
At the Show, 5 members had Basic Examination certificates [and badge]: Aniela Smith, Mannetta Leigh, Chris Evans, Chris Nicol, and David Roberts. They were well instructed by Mary Hill.

There are some great photos on the website as well as the full results with Chris’ report. 

Your hives should be secured for winter, weighted down with bricks, protected from woodpeckers, mouseguards on. But my bees don’t seem to realise it’s November and have been out in this mild weather on late fuchsias, I am worried that they are consuming their carefully counted stores.

Please note the change of date for the next meeting

The Microscopy Day is taking place on November 26th as planned, but Bob Smith can instruct only 12 participants at a time.
We now have 12 confirmed people and Patrick is to provide the necessary support.
Thank you!
So the normal meeting will be the following Saturday.

The SE Honey survey is on the website if yours is lost. Please return by email to Alan or post paper copies directly to him. The survey gives an overview of colony productivity and we get the results in January. It is interesting, so please respond, you all know by now the harvest you had.

Beecraft magazine is now on Facebook; if you have a Facebook account enter “Beecraft Magazine” in the search box.  

The Bruderhof community at Beech Grove, Nonington, CT15 4HH, will be holding Carol singing evenings [plus their famous dinners!] to which all are most welcome.
December 3rd, 10th and 17th at 6:20.              
If that wasn’t enough lovely music, you could sing Handel’s Messiah there at 11am on December 4th.
Details HERE

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Patrick, our Thorne Agent has some end of season bargains to sell HERE!!!


Thursday 3 November 2011

Honey Show

Here are some snapshots of the Honey Show 2011 and a full report can be downloaded from our DOWNLOAD PAGES.
Selling Honey from the DDBKA hives.

The Raffle

The prizes

 Chair [Brian Marlow] & Show Secretary [Chris Holdstock ]

Mannetta Leigh receiving BBKA Basic Beekeeping award

Aniela Smith receiving BBKA Basic Beekeeping award

Roy Dyche receiving Dale Award

 Patrick Murfet receiving Novice award & Harry's Cup 

Roy Dyche receiving Challenge Cup

Don Overal receiving Victory Cup

Roy Dyche receiving Blue Ribbon Award

Monday 10 October 2011

Newsletter October 2011

Dear Beekeeper

Our outdoor season finished with a good crowd, and sunshine. The hives had Apiguard and the inserts removed and stores counted by a good team. The late hot weather and a long ivy season have given colonies far greater amounts of stores than usual. Hopefully the effort of raking and seeding by Len and Karl will bear a good show of grass. Many thanks to Richard for his wax demonstration, perhaps there will be more wax entries for the Show?

Feeding should now be complete; bees cannot take syrup and convert it into stores once the temperature drops. Keep the entrances small, and towards the end of the month put on mouseguards to prevent mice setting up home in your nice warm hive. Have the hive tilted forward slightly to let it drain should water get in. Think about wire netting to protect your hives from woodpeckers.

Thanks to Mary and Richard for support at the Ploughing Match, lots of you visited the stand as well. Thanet and Whitstable beekeepers made it such a friendly day. Congratulations to Richard who won with his honey!

I hope you have all put some Honey Show entries in to Chris Holdstock, he does a great deal of work to ensure smooth running. Entries should be in to him by the 15th. Any Registered or Associate member can enter. Our show is always bustling and demonstrates an impressive range of honeys and bee-related classes.

NB - Confectionery entries don’t have to use your own honey – you may not have any!

Bring jars of honey to the Show that you wish to be sold for you, correctly labelled for sale.

The SE Honey survey is on the Notice Board if yours is lost or can be completed online HERE. Please return by email to Alan or post paper copies directly to him or give to me to bulk post. The survey gives an overview of colony productivity and we get the results in January. It is interesting, so please respond!

Any other information you have lost can be found on the new website, make it your first port of call. Well done Gabrielle!


Saturday 17 September 2011

Newsletter September 2011

Dear Beekeeper

Well done all the brave souls who came to the showery August meeting [over 50!] The Apiguard trays were swapped for the second ones, thanks to all who helped. Pam was not well enough to do her usual great job with the refreshments; thanks to Maggie Marlow. Thank goodness, Pam is now feeling brighter and we may see her soon.

Members who did not pick up a copy of our Honey Show schedule last month will receive it by post.
Chris will be looking forward to receiving your entry forms, you can hand them to him on the 24th details on our EVENTS page.
Any Registered or Associate member can enter.
Please try something, remember the confectionery classes do not have to be your own honey, you may not have any yet! Our show is always bustling and interesting and demonstrates an impressive range of honeys and bee-related classes.

The East Kent Ploughing Match is on Wednesday 28th September at Faversham. Our Association will share a stall with Thanet beekeepers, and can sell your honey and bee products if you wish. Please bring honey, polish, sweets, wax etc to the September meeting. Any offers of help on the day would be appreciated.
The SE Honey survey can be found on the NOTICEBORAD
Please return by email to Alan or post paper copies directly to him or give to me to bulk post. The survey gives an overview of colony productivity and we get the results in January. It is interesting, so please respond!

In the apiary: Feeding should be completed by early October, some hives are so full of ivy honey that the bees are spilling out. But other bees may still need feeding, Mary reports a large hungry swarm attempted to rob her colonies. Eythorne has 2 hives which may need a late feed.
Apiguard should not be on hives longer than a total of 6 weeks, Andrew in Worth has had a massive mite drop, over 1000 – Apiguard does work!

I have been doing an inventory of stored equipment. We seem to have lost a nuc box and a small/medium all-in-one beesuit.
Please think if you have borrowed anything and please return it.
Roy would appreciate the return of library books to keep them in circulation.

Rowena Pearce, secretary of Thanet Beekeepers, is gathering numbers for the seminars and discussions on different topics meeting in Eastry. These begin on October 3rd and designed for people with some experience, not beginners!
Details on our COURSES pages under Hands-On Beekeeping.


Wednesday 17 August 2011

Newsletter August 2011

Dear Beekeeper

We had a great welcome and hospitality from David, Jeff and the Bruderhof community at Nonington last month. It was a lovely setting for an open - air meeting and the hives we saw were flourishing, queens were marked and everyone learned something new. Many thanks to Holly and Susan for a delicious tea. The workshop tour was fascinating and I know the supper was really enjoyed by those who stayed on.
Walking our to the apiary.

Getting kitted out.

In the apiary: the honey, if any, should have been extracted and the wet supers returned above the crownboard [holes open] for the bees to lick dry before being removed and stored.

It is very important that we all try to use Apiguard or whichever varroa treatment, at roughly the same time to ensure effective results. It is a 6 week process if you use Apiguard, and it needs a warm temperature [above 15C] to work.
At the Eythorne apiary the first trays went in on the 14th August and the second will be added at the August meeting.
NB Keep a note of any batch numbers, a legal requirement.
Worker bees produced from eggs laid in August and September need to live for up to 6 months rather than 6 weeks. A feed of sugar syrup after the honey has been removed will stimulate the queen into continuing her egg laying whereas otherwise, she will be decreasing this activity.

At the end of August check for stored honey for the winter.
Every time I read some bee journal the estimated amount necessary for a colony to get through the winter successfully seems to rise, now I am being told 40pounds of stores are needed, previously 30 was enough, then 35. Each brood frame if full is 5 pounds – not much room for bees! That is why many people over – winter their colonies on brood and a half or double brood [as seen at Nonington].
If in doubt, feed with strong syrup [2lbs white sugar to 1 pint water].

Keep vigilant for wasps, I had a small nucleus completely robbed out by wasps during my holiday. They are quick to attack small or weak colonies. Bees can cope with very small entrances, 2 bee widths.

Roy Dyche will be going back to Uganda at the end of August and is asking for any small equipment you may have, hive tools, rubber gloves etc, he will deliver any contributions to local African beekeepers .Bring to the meeting.

News of new grants
Dover District Council has generously awarded us a one-off grant of £1700, thanks to our chair, Brian’s, hard work and persistence.
All the money has to be spent quite quickly and itemised, so if members have ideas for equipment to buy, we will have a suggestion sheet for you to write on.
Get thinking!
Timanstone Salads have also generously awarded us £100 a year for the next 3 years. This will be used to pay for foundation, jars and anti varroa treatments for the Association’s hives; also mower maintenance and fuel. It will be a very valuable contribution to ongoing costs.

Our Association has been extremely fortunate and appreciates all the help.

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Tuesday 19 July 2011

Newsletter July 2011

Dear Beekeeper
There was a large crowd for Tony’s funeral, all aspects of his life represented; family, seafaring, bowling and beekeeping. Len has sent a donation of £160 from us to the RNLI in his memory.

In the apiary, the rapid storing of nectar which had started at the end of June has been slowed considerably by the cooler,windy, wet weather. Bees have been consuming their stores in the supers, but at least no longer need feeding to cover the lack of nectar at the start of June.
The swarming impulse is mostly over, it’s been a very active season, swarms in post boxes, swarms from nucs etc, but the bees should now be concentrating on filling their hives with stores.
Thanks to Karl, Mary and Jill for help with looking through the hives last month, all but one have now successfully requeened themselves, but can I find the new queens???

5 of our members have passed the Basic Beekeeping examination, the first step.
Well done to Chris Evans, Mannetta Leigh, Chris Nicol, David Roberts and Aniela Smith!
Thanks to Jan for organising it and especially to Mary for teaching them so well [she deserves her trip to Buckingham Palace on the 19th]

I have been alerted by the National Bee Unit to ensure that you are all aware that the wasp menace is starting early this year. They can rob a colony of honey very efficiently, especially if it is small [a nuc] or weak.

Reduce the entrance to an inch or less, make wasp traps from a teaspoon of jam and water – NOT honey - mixed in a jam jar with wasp sized holes punched in the lid. Hang in a nearby tree or place near hives. They will happily drown themselves.


Friday 17 June 2011

Newsletter June 2011

Dear Beekeeper
Many thanks to Patrick for hosting our last meeting on the Leas at Kingsdown, the wind certainly was strong, but the bees were sheltered and well-behaved. Patrick said the 8 hives all needed attention, the 2 that I saw were thriving and in enviable fettle.

The oil seed rape honey should have been taken by now, the frames put back on for the bees to lick clean and hopefully refill. A member in Barfrestone has taken 153 pounds from just one hive before the end of May, his best in 50 years of beekeeping! A season of contrasts indeed, the first Association honey came in at the tail end of May. The hot dry spring has led to caution about the “June gap” which may mean a more serious lack of nectar this year.

Alan Byham, Regional Bee Inspector sent this message:
Due to the recent lower than average rainfall experienced in many parts of the South East Region it may be that colonies are running very low on honey stores, particularly if a spring crop has been removed.  It is possible that a summer honey crop will be much reduced or even non-existent in some areas, as ground water levels are low and plants struggle to produce nectar.  It is not uncommon for colonies to be starving in the traditional ‘June gap’ period and I am therefore advising that beekeepers keep a close watch on honey stores in their colonies and feed with sugar syrup or candy if required.

Keep up the weekly colony inspections, the swarming impulse carries on through June and July. If you find queen cells, think carefully about the equipment you will need for swarm control.
If a swarm occurs, any receptacle will do for collection initially, bucket, box etc, invert it on the sheet you first laid down and prop it open with a stone to let the bees enter.
Again, equipment is needed to house them.
Dusk is the easiest time to take them away as all should be in the box if you have the queen inside.

5 of our members have taken the BBKA Basic Assessment examination this month, it’s an oral and practical examination of beekeeping skills and knowledge. News of their progress will follow, but they were well prepared by Mary.


Tuesday 17 May 2011

Newsletter May 2011

Dear Beekeeper
The first meeting at our new apiary was very well attended and once we sort the parking out and the best place to catch the afternoon sun, it will be even better.

Mary demonstrating

brood frame

white: eggs, yellow: larvae, orange:jelly

workers tending brood

workers on foundation with drop of honey

We have very good news; the Co-op Communities Fund has awarded our Association a grant of £1600 towards the expenses of setting up the apiary and the new shed. It is a very generous donation, which should be featured in this week’s Dover Express.

The honey extractor has been borrowed 3 times already, so an early honey crop is being taken by some. Oil seed rape honey should be extracted before it is completely capped or it will granulate in the comb. I saw a hive with 5 supers at Church Hougham!

But early swarming has caught some beekeepers out; you must check your colonies weekly. If they have already swarmed, the bees should be left alone, waiting for their new queen to emerge, mate and begin to lay, a 3 week process.
To prevent this, take action at the first sign of queen cells being built. Carry out an artificial swarm by separating the old queen from the queen cells you have noticed. This must be done before the queen cells are sealed, the swarm will take off once they are sealed unless you have taken action. The consequence will be that half your summer honey gatherers will disappear probably to be collected by some lucky beekeeper or to really irritate your neighbours!
BBKA News May p.7 explains all, but spare boxes and frames should be to hand.

We have received a generous gift of beekeeping books for our Library from Dr Peter Oldreive’s widow Margaret, many thanks to her.