Friday 14 December 2012

Newsletter December 2012

Dear Beekeeper

Our Question & Answer session provided some good advice to the audience last month, well done to
Jean, Aniela, Elvin and David for putting themselves forward.

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 on 26th January.  

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.
A 2013 subscription form is available to download HERE.
GOOD VALUE – the same price as last year!
Len hopes lots more of you will pay by bank transfer and hand him the form at the AGM.

Check your bees regularly!
The bees at Eythorne have fondant on the crownboards as an insurance policy as I felt they were light. This will be an anxious winter, low stores, uncertainty over whether queens have been well-mated, and the prospect of bees needing much spring feeding if they survive.
Make sure your hives are watertight, weighted down in gales and check for woodpecker damage, usually once it has turned cold. Woodpeckers have been evident at Eythorne already!
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 day 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.
Baker’s fondant is sold by arrangement from Vanes, 120 High St Dover  01304 206325, or  make your candy.
Candy Recipe [there are lots of variations] increase quantities as desired.
200ml water, 1000g[1kg] white sugar ,1 teasp glycerine. Boil all together, stirring, for3 minutes, cool slightly over cold water, then beat or stir rapidly. Turns opaque, 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 a gift of a good new beekeeping book this Christmas, to read in the warmth.
Seasons greetings to you all, with best wishes for your good health and high hopes for a better year of beekeeping in 2013, it couldn’t be worse than the problems of this year!   

Friday 23 November 2012

Newsletter November 2012

Dear Beekeeper

What a good show it was, Chris did a great job and the new venue at Beech Grove gave all the exhibitors and visitors room to move. The sun even shone!
Well done to David Stevenson for his best in show solar wax extractor. Mavis and Maggie made a super lunch and Marge dispensed tea and coffee at a pace. It was good to see so many new members having success.

Exam success
At the Show, 5 members had Basic Assessment certificates [and badge]: Sue Clough, Martin Edwards, Polly Fowle, Sue Kittle and Chris Mendoza. They were well taught 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 or straps, protected from woodpeckers, mouseguards on. I have never fed bees so late and am putting fondant on as they are still light.

News of Elisabeth
Our previous DDBKA Secretary has been quite poorly with an operation and a stay in hospital, and is currently in a care home in Hawkinge for a while. Hawkinge House, Hurricane Way, CT18 7SS.
We wish her a speedy return to good health.


Sunday 21 October 2012

Honey Show

A fabulous turn-out for our annual Honey Show at our new venue, the hall at the Bruderhof Community. There was plenty of room for all the great entries despite the 'challenging' season and the usual, irresistibly scrumptious catering by our hosts. Naughty me did not bring the big camera, so some of the pictures are a bit wobbly. Apologies for that and if you took any nice ones at the show, email me  and I'll add them.

Some of the many, fantastic entries!

David at his award winning and very impressive wax extractor. I want one!

Our tireless secretaries!
Keeping the masses fed and watered.

Elvin demonstrating Warre and Top Bar Hives.

Awarding certificates to our successful basic exam students.

 Then came the awards:
 Michael Fountain picking up his Greasley Award.

 Sue Clapson holding the Harry's Cup for the best wax entry and her Victory Cup for receiving the maximum points overall. Very well done!!!
 David Stevenson and his many awards: The Dale Award for best entry in a member's category, the Challenge Cup for the best entries submitted to the honey as well as articles related to bee keeping categories and the Blue Ribbon for the best entry to the show. Many congratulations!!!

Friday 19 October 2012

Bees Abroad Update October 2012

Empowering Women through Environmentally Sustainable Beekeeping, Monze, Zambia
Project Manager: Roy Dyche

This project was launched in September 2011, its aim being to provide several women’s co-operatives in southern Zambia with a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of income from beekeeping. A year later, inSeptember 2012 I went out to Monze to evaluate what had been achieved during those first twelve months and to help launch a second phase. This report is based on data collected during my trip and on reports that our Zambian partners, the small local NGO Sustainable Rural Development Agency (SRDA), have emailed to me throughout the year.

Read the full report here!

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Newsletter October 2012

Dear Beekeeper

Thanks to all who helped with the final Eythorne varroa count [lowish] and stores count [also low unfortunately], at the September meeting, especially Patrick, Karl, Dick B, Elvin & Richard.
My 2 WBC hives were united.
After seeing it in action, I think several members will be asking for a refractometer for Christmas, such an easy way to tell if your honey is below 20% water content, as it must be to be legally called honey.

The Ploughing Match was a windy washout, though Jan & Richard stuck it out with some brave souls from Thanet in a corner of another tent, their gazebo having blown away.

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 hives. Think about wire netting to protect your hives from woodpeckers. However, syrup is still being taken at Eythorne; autumn has proved to be yet another poor forage season for the bees.

Chris has put in lots of work for our Honey Show and says there are more honey entries than he expected; thank you all, it’s been a tough year all round, for the bees and us.

Bring jars of honey to the Show that you wish to be sold for you, correctly labelled for sale, and also any bee related products.

We hope to be able to arrange for members to take the Basic Assessment at the Eythorne apiary in May 2013. 
Even if you are not on Mary's course, and providing you have kept bees for at least 12 months, it is still possible to take the assessment by downloading the syllabus and application form fromthe BBKA website, and doing your own study. 
If you decide to take the Basic, you should forward the application form to me, together with the fee, by February 13th 2013. Don't forget that the Basic is the starting point for any further BBKA exams, so I do urge you to give it a go.
Jan Cross
Exam Sec, DDBKA,St Margarets Farm, Napchester Road, Whitfield, CT15 5HD


Tuesday 18 September 2012

Newsletter September 2012

Dear Beekeeper

Some good weather at last for our hungry bees. The colonies at Eythorne are smallish and have appreciated feeds of heavy syrup, 2:1 ratio, 1kg sugar to 630ml of water.
The bees are now making up the difference, I hope, with the abundant ivy flowers, a very rich source of nectar and pollen.

DDBKA Honey Show
October 20th 2012 at Beech Grove, Nonington CT15 4HH
Please pick up your Show schedule at the meeting, if not received by post.
Some were not collected in August though the members were there! Did you remember to tick the list????
Chris will be looking forward to receiving your entry forms, you can hand them to him on the 29th [don’t forget to enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope].

Did you see September’s Beecraft?
The project in Folkestone featured there, p.39, involved teaching from myself and David Moniz, the owner of the Bumblebee Alliance hive at Eythorne, and hands on experience for the
students from Karl at his apiary. Unfortunately DDBKA did not get mentioned, though 3 of us were closely involved!

Nigel Douglas, a member from Barfrestone, bought a queen from Thornes, and did not realize till too late that his hive had been robbed out. So he kindly donated her to DDBKA, Patrick is to overwinter her and we shall expect great performance from her in the spring. Thank you Nigel.

DDBKA have received a £50 donation from the Immigration Removal Centre at the Western Heights in Dover. Steve & I collected a colony that had built some lovely comb in a window recess. They provided a cherry picker for access, very exciting and successful as we managed to get the queen. They are to go to Clive Godderidge, unlucky this year with a failing queen and then very enthusiastic drone layers.

Alan Byham, SE Inspector, has sent his annual Honey Survey for you to fill in please. It will be of special interest this year because of the effect the weather may have had on yields. Please make an effort to email it back to him asap. Thanks.


Wednesday 22 August 2012

Newsletter August 2012

Dear Beekeeper

The weather has improved, too late for most with any honey harvest. I have left extraction later than usual and plan to see what‘s there this week.
As soon as the supers are cleaned and dried by the bees and stored, it is time for varroa treatment to reduce the mites before winter.  The most common form of treatment at this time of year is Apiguard. This needs to be in the colony for a minimum of 4 weeks and is most effective when the outside temperature is above 15C.
Colonies are vulnerable to wasps in August, reduce the entrances if they are seen hanging around. Make wasp traps from a tsp of jam and some water – NOT honey - mixed in a jar with wasp sized holes punched in the lid.  Hang in a nearby tree or place near hives. They will happily drown themselves. Bees will rob other colonies in August, reduce entrances, don’t leave frames around.
A feed of sugar syrup after the honey has been removed will stimulate the queen into continuing her egg laying, otherwise, she will reduce this activity. The winter bees have to be fat to live for 6 months.

EFB  has been diagnosed at Hawkinge and Stelling Minnis!
Please   make sure you know how to recognize it in brood, see BBKA News June 2012. Be very vigilant and thorough with hygiene and movement between colonies.  

DDBKA has received a generous donation of £100 from Roy & Pam Pearson. They have run stalls at functions for Dover District Council, sharing information about honeybees with the public. They asked for the fees to be paid to our Association for which we are very grateful! 

DDBKA Honey Show
October 20th 2012 at Beech Grove, Nonington CT15 4HH
Please pick up your Show schedule at the August meeting. Chris will have a list to tick off, otherwise the postage costs a fortune!
Patrick and Marge have offered to steward,  anyone else?
See you there, hope for a sunny afternoon

To borrow
Don’t forget DDBKA has 2 honey extractors and 2 solar wax extractors to loan.

Charlie Oxley, a long standing member of DDBKA, sadly died on July 21st.

Bee Drifting project
The results of the experiment carried out by Patrick and his team of volunteers are available on our website, on the Documents to Download tab.

Good News  Mannetta & Clive, the owners of our apiary site are to be married on September 8th.                       We wish them every happiness!

Detail for this month's meeting HERE


Sunday 15 July 2012

Newsletter July 2012

Dear Beekeeper

The unbelievably bad wet weather has continued, bees are at a standstill, some colonies that have swarmed have failed to requeen successfully, 3 are like that at the club apiary. If you took any spring honey, that may be your lot for 2012, the bees are consuming whatever they are bringing in. The long range weather forecast brings no comfort.
I am thinking now about trying to make sure colonies will be strong enough to overwinter, depressing thoughts in July but the bee season is very short!
Small colonies or nucs should be united with more successful ones, choose the best queen to head it up. Small colonies are vulnerable to wasps in August, reduce the entrances if they are seen hanging around. Make wasp traps from a teaspoon of jam and some 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.

Jan Cross, Examinations Secretary, wants to remind beekeepers of the Basic Exam. It is purely practical and oral, usually at our apiary, and you learn a lot during the sessions, particularly those who have never been on a course [and there are some]. Mary Hill will be teaching the course in the spring, so let Jan know if 2013 is to be your year. It’s an important first step.

To take the Basic Assessment you should have managed at least one colony of bees for a minimum of 12 months.       Jan:  01304 820170               

The Basic Assessment syllabus can be viewed on the BBKA web site at

Picnic on the Green, Walmer, August 11th, 1- 4pm
I am still hoping that someone will come forward to man a stall at this local occasion, I am away that weekend. It involves chatting to the public about bees; believe me you will know more than they do!
DDBKA has a banner, large photos, leaflets etc to borrow. You would be free to sell your honey and bee products. Please let me know if interested.

Calling all photographers:
Anyone with an interest in honeybees and beekeeping is invited to enter a photographic competition run by Vita (Europe) Ltd.          
The entries will also be added to the hundreds of honeybee-related photos in the free, online Vita Gallery ( which is proving an invaluable resource for anyone anywhere in the world wanting to spread the word about beekeeping.
Entrants can submit up to four photos (up to 1mb each) relating to honeybees or beekeeping by emailing them to Photos can be on any relevant topic: from honeybee behaviour, to beekeeping practices, foraging honeybees and honeybee produce.                   
 The deadline for entries is 1 November 2012.
The winner of the competition will receive a €50 cash prize, plus Vita anti-varroa products for 10 colonies. There is also a special prize for the winner of the under-16s category.
Calendars will also be sent to anyone whose picture is featured.
All your own work obviously!


Sunday 1 July 2012

June Meeting

A sunny, but windy day at the Eythorne out apiary for our monthly gathering. I just about made it down, being the back-up photographer of the day, which was all about our fabulous clubhouse, or 'The Shed' which was kindly donated by the Co-op.

Tutor and exam secretary.

The most important persons on site!

The members outside the clubhouse in rapt attention for the committee.

The chiefs.....

.......the Indians......

....and the Manitous.

A lot of the milling about we tend to do.

The workers!

Friday 29 June 2012

Launch of the Women’s Beekeeping Project, Hoima, Uganda by Roy Dyche

Dear fellow members,
I went out to Uganda last month to launch the project for which so many of you donated gloves and Harry Kendall cleverly gave me half-a-dozen reading spectacles. The ladies were extremely grateful. I thought you might like to see the report on my trip which has just been posted on the Bees Abroad website.
Many thanks for your support.
Best wishes


Find out HERE how Roy got on in Uganda!

Sunday 17 June 2012

Newsletter June 2012

Thanks to Elvin & David for hosting last month's meeting in their apiary; they had put a lot of thought into what we could see and the variety of hives on show, much food for thought for everyone.

More information about their enterprises on

Still cool, wet and windy, but the bees took advantage of the warmth at the end of May and there were swarms galore. There seem to have been problems with the subsequent mating of the virgin queens, taking much longer than usual, waiting and hoping for a pleasant day.

All the oil seed rape honey should be off the hives now, leave it too long and it granulates in the combs, impossible to spin out. The apiary hives have done well in parts, 2 hives yielding over 40 pounds each, the rest, middling.
The 2 club extractors have been busy. Please can the solar wax extractor be returned.

Please let me know if you are still looking for a swarm or bees.
Most people have been sorted out, but shout if you need bees, my phone is still ringing!

All Registered members with BBKA should have received their new membership card with June BBKA News


Patrick Murfet and a dedicated team marked drones and workers in 3 colours on June 2nd to see the extent of drifting. Those bees certainly get about!

Patrick will give us all the findings after 23rd June, but there is a lot going on between hives that we don’t notice.

CONGRATULATIONS to Sue Clough, Martin Edwards, Polly Fowle, Sue Kittle and Christine Mendoza who have all passed their Basic examination in beekeeping. 

Many thanks to Mary, for her rigorous teaching. 

KRSC courses for beekeepers of 2-3 years experience

The July courses at KSRC at Sittingbourne can be booked now; an extra FREE session on Nosema diagnosis on 24th June, 10 till 3. Bring samples. Although there is no charge, please register on the website - use "Manual Payment", PayPal does not like £ 0 transactions!

The last currently scheduled courses, Brood Disease Diagnosis, will take place on 7th July, run by our Bee Inspectors Alan Byham and Michael Cooper. Then on Saturday 28th July, Kit Erhardt will be tackling how to prepare colonies so that they go into winter. Both sessions £10.

Bob Smith would also welcome suggestions for further 2nd level courses. 

New arrangements for beginners and hive inspections at meetings!


Kent Show 13th, 14th, 15th July, Detling

Are you interested in stewarding? There is a variety of sessions; badge making, candle rolling, catering, observation hive, sales, catering etc. Help is also needed on the days before and after to set up & dismantle. They also need honey to sell.

Apply to


The Bruderhof community at Beech Grove, Nonington, CT15 4HH is holding one of their special open days where the lovely grounds are open to visitors and the day is rounded off with a dinner to which all are welcome. It is on Sunday, 24th of June. It will start 3pm.

Monday 28 May 2012

May Meeting

The major beehives apiary and the SUN IS SHINING. Finally!!!

Members milling in the beautiful orchards.

Spotting a couple of  Kent  Queens among the guests.

Our tea faeries!!!

Seeking shade - what a difference to last month's wash out!

Relaxing with a cuppa and a gossip.

Natural Beekeeping Part II - Warre Hives

Elvin explaining the principles of the Warre Hive.
During this month's meeting, we also had the rare chance to look inside a Warre Hive.

Observing through one of the panels.

Opening the hive.

Demonstrating varroa control with icing sugar.

Top insulation layer of Warre.

Smoking in preparation for opening hive.

Getting ready to show the comb: a two men job!

Natural comb in the Warre.

Warre hives in apiary.