Monday, 23 December 2013

Monday, 16 December 2013

Newsletter December 2013

Dear Beekeeper

Our last meeting, addressed by Steve Alton was a good way to end the season, he wrote: “a lovely crowd who made me feel very welcome.”
Thanks to all who helped on the day, and for the extra refreshments.

Did anyone find a silk scarf there? Let me know please.

Alan Byham, the SE Bee Inspector, has presented his annual report for 2013, it is on our website, along with his 2013 Honey Survey. Both make interesting reading: we in Kent undercharge for our honey [as usual]; he maps the incidences of AFB & EFB and has overall conclusions about the effect of the delayed spring.

More Sentinel beekeepers are required to be alert for introduced pests, Tony Christian in Whitfield is one, and he has found the extra monitoring very helpful.

It will be Alan’s last report as he retires, after great service, at Christmas.

If anyone has been keeping bees for 50years, let me know, BBKA have a special award for such cases.

Endurance probably!

At the Eythorne apiary, Brian Marlow has done wonders in the shed, lots of equipment is now off the floor and it looks more spacious.

He is keen to keep it that way and will be taking over the loans and borrowings next year.


January 25th 2014 will be the AGM for our club.

At present I have received resignations from Len Mole, Treasurer; Karl Engels, Vice Chair; & Jan Cross, Exam Secretary, 3 posts will need to be filled.

Please think carefully if you or a member you know could take on one of these positions.

I must receive a nomination for a specified post from a member by email or phone by mid January. You are certainly free to nominate yourself.

A member must not be nominated unless you have checked with them that they are willing to stand.

Hope you will get working on this and get in touch!

It’s an opportunity to become involved and to be instrumental in making changes.

The 2014 Subscription form is also on the website and I will attach it to this letter as well. We run from January to January and our membership funds keep us going.

Only £2 more than 2013, entirely due to the BBKA capitation increase of £2.

You should note that Len’s address has changed, for those who like to pay by post.

Bank transfer is easy – honestly!

DDBKA has bought the DVD More than Honey [featured on page 4, In the Apiary, of the December BBKA News]. We plan to show it at the February or March meetings.

Check your hives

If using oxalic or lactic acid as varroa treatment in the broodless time in December/January, wait for a calm day and work quickly. It provides an opportunity for adjusting frames, making sure the winter cluster is in contact with stored honey, to avoid “isolation starvation”.
Take some fondant or candy with you in case they are low on stores.
Watch out for a build up of dead bees behind the entrance and clear them.
Otherwise, leave alone and wait for the days to lengthen, when your queens will begin to lay.

Enjoy the beekeeping break, read some new books, do some repairs, and make your plans ready for the new season. Always good to have a plan, even though events may intervene.

Happy Christmas and good health for 2014 to you all,

Best wishes


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Newsletter November 2013

Dear Beekeeper

The October Honey Show seems a long way off now, but it was very successful, good to see some of our new beekeepers winning awards and to have the hospitality of the Bruderhof community who worked hard to get the Swedish Hall looking so welcoming and provided the afternoon refreshments.
Congratulations to John Feasey, best in show for honey and to Roger Thompson of Thanet BKA for the greatest accumulation of points.
Mavis, Pam & Maggie Marlow provided an excellent lunch for the judges and stewards.
Here are some pictures Steve Boyce took!!!

KENT COUNTY BEEKEEPING QUIZ Hosted by Thanet BKA, this was in October, 4 tables competed, some tricky questions.
Happily the DDBKA table won [with help from Adrian Davis from Canterbury BKA].
We received a cup which hadn’t been contested for 20 years! It has been engraved with “Dover” for the first time since it started in 1964.
Thanks to those who took part.

Your mouse guards should be on the hives now and some anti-woodpecker protection.

Chicken wire spaced away from the hive works, as do as plastic sacks pinned around to avoid woodpeckers getting a toe hold. Pin or tape it on, leaving the roof accessible to lift for winter treatments of oxalic acid if needed. Leave space for the entrance to be used by the bees.

Check them for damage or weather problems every couple of weeks, and look forward to spring!

FONDANT for feeding, if you think stores in your hives are low later on this year

Bees will not take syrup down as the temperature drops; it is hard work for them to turn it into stores.

Our local suppliers [above] sell fondant, also Baker’s fondant is sold by Vanes, 120 High St Dover

01304 206325, or Elizabeths Bakeries, 59 Cheriton High Street Folkestone 01303 275576.

Ring first; it is usually sold in 12.5 kg boxes. Heavy, but it keeps well if wrapped.

Try and make your own 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.

At the apiary

Karl has been busy planting bluebells & Dick has planted viper’s bugloss. There are also some additional crocus bulbs and cowslips.Some recent research states that bees are especially attracted to lavenders, borage and marjoram [the best all-rounder for all bees].


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Newsletter October 2013

Dear Beekeeper

I want to encourage you as a Registered member or an Associate member to enter something in our
Honey Show on the 19th October at Beech Grove, Nonington CT15 4HH.
If you don’t have honey to enter, you can still enter the confectionery classes with bought honey, and many of you are good at photography or other artistic pastimes.
Entry forms to Chris the Show Secretary by the 12th October.
NB Don’t bring your entries to Beech Grove till after 7:30 am on the day, but before 9:15am!
It opens to the public at 2:30 pm.

News of Don Overal
He is out of hospital, still quite breathless after water on his lungs, but under doctor’s orders. He reports that Roy Pearson kindly checked his bees at Alkham and they seem to be coping without any attention – maybe we look too much!

September’s meeting was full of autumn produce on the raffle stall:nuts, fruit, pickles, jams. Thank you!
The stores and mites were counted, thanks to all who helped; one hive had 45lbs of stores!
Varroa count was again low, so the colonies with the largest mite drop have been dosed with Hive Clean, hives 1 & 3.Elvin had an interesting method - to avoid winter isolation starvation, he moved all the brood to the front of the colony he was counting, and put the stores at the back. So the bees should be moving in the same direction to feed through the cold weather. I have copied this with my colonies.
The sale went well, most items snapped up quickly.

Diary dates for bee events can be found HERE

Courses can be found HERE

SUGAR for feeding: The cheapest sugar I have seen is from Farm Foods [near Morrisons in Dover] 75p a k.
Remember to keep records of all treatments used to assess their efficacy. 

HONEY STATS - Please Help!
Two important surveys, which are important for more detailed knowledge of how 2013 went for our bees. Please do both, they are quick to complete.
BBKA -    [closes on the 18th October]
South East 2013 can be dowloaded from HERE and then emailed or posted to adresses on form.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Newsletter September 2013

Dear Beekeeper

I am writing on September 13th, having collected my first [and only] small swarm of 2013, from Walmer.
An odd year!

The August meeting went well, thanks to members prepared to show what DDBKA members can use or borrow to make life easier and cheaper. Brian Marlow has offered to make the large solar wax extractor smaller and easier to transport for future members’ use.

The MAQS treatment was postponed as the mite levels were so low as to be negligible. The theory put forward was that colonies which have been broodless are not a fruitful area for varroa mites.

Wasps are still a real nuisance; reduce the hive entrances to a few centimetres, easier for the bees to defend, check your boxes are bee-tight. Make wasp traps baited with jam & water, NOT honey.

 Please look at for 2nd level courses at KSRC Sittingbourne.

This is the season for Honey Shows, both local and national. They are fun to enter and you can develop a speciality – maybe cakes, honey, wax, artistic effort. Have a go!

Diary dates:
  • E Kent Ploughing Match, 25/9/13 Lower Hardres 
  • Give me any honey or hive products you have to sell before then, or at the match itself. Help welcome on the day.
  • Thanet BKA Show, Acol, 28/9/13 [same day as DDBKA September meeting]
  • London Honey Show 7/10/13
  • DDBKA Honey Show, Nonington 19/10/13
  • Thanet BKA Quiz, Cliffsend 22/10/2013
  • National Honey Show Weybridge 24-27/10/2013

The schedule for Thanet BKA Show can be downloaded HERE. They are our neighbouring association and would appreciate entries from our members. I am having a go at a cake and some wax.

I can give entries to Rowena at the Ploughing Match.

Len, our Treasurer for the last few years, wishes to inform you that this will be his final year in the post and that we shall need someone to replace him in January.
Please do speak to him to find what the job entails.
He also wants to tell you that BBKA are raising the capitation payment from £15 to £17 in 2014. So your membership will be £2 more than this year.


Thanet BKA are organising a quiz at The Sportsman Pub, Cliffsend on 22nd October at £6 per head, which includes refreshments. 50% beekeeping questions, the rest general knowledge. Raffle in aid of Bees Abroad.
Tables of 8 welcome. Steve & I are going, who else is willing? The honour of DDBKA is at stake!

SUGAR for feeding The cheapest sugar I have seen is from Farm Foods [near Morrisons in Dover] 75p a kg

Remember to keep records of all treatments used to assess their efficacy.


Monday, 19 August 2013

Newsletter August 2013

Dear Beekeeper

We had an excellent meeting at the Bee Barn at Bridge, a barn had been cleared for us to sit, but the anticipated bad weather never arrived and hives could be looked at in ideal conditions.
2 were united, the bees being very well-behaved.
Many thanks to Patrick for his hospitality.
Also thanks to Wendy for becoming the Laundry Volunteer.

There is a new arrival at the apiary, Roy Pearson and Dover District Council tree surgeons had to fell a tree which landed on a nursing home at Kearsney. The tree was home to honeybees! A section of trunk was cut and transported in the evening to Eythorne, bees last seen happily going in & out, now horizontal rather than vertical. Roy was his usual capable practical self, but well done DDC.

If you have any honey to extract, be careful not to leave any frames, syrup etc around. This time of year is when bees may rob other exposed or weaker colonies, I had a small nuc robbed out at Eythorne, horrible to watch and very difficult to deal with. Prevention is best.

Wasps are also in evidence, reduce the hive entrances to a few centimeters, easier for the bees to defend, check your boxes are bee-tight. Make wasp traps baited with jam & water, NOT honey.

This is the season for Honey Shows, both local and national. They are fun to enter and you can develop a specialty – maybe cakes, honey, wax, artistic effort.

Have a go!

A reminder that the Kent Festival of Bees at Bridge has a closing date for entries of 19th August.

Other diary dates are on our Notice Board.

Len, our Treasurer for the last few years, wishes to inform you that this will be his final year in the post and that we shall need someone to replace him in January.
Please do speak to him to find what the job entails.
He also wants to inform you that BBKA are raising the capitation payment from £15 to £17 in 2014. So your membership will be £2 more than this year.

SUGAR for feeding Your BBKA membership card can be shown at Booker Cash & Carry to buy at their low prices. Branches in Canterbury, Folkestone & Broadstairs.
The cheapest shop sugar I have seen is Iceland @ 85p per kg. You may know better.

August varroa treatment

DDBKA is going to trial the new MAQS treatment. Inserts will be put in 7 days before the meeting [see below]. If necessary, the newly approved MAQS (Mite Away Quick Strips), which only require a week on a colony, will be applied. We will need mite counters to assess the need. There will be MAQS and Apiguard to buy. Remember to keep records of all treatments used to assess their efficacy.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Newsletter July 2013

Dear Beekeeper

At the June meeting we had to flee the apiary to the adjoining field, lots of bad-tempered bees and stings in evidence, several people had stings on the face and poor Mavis had one on the eyelid. They have been unusually grumpy there with the constant cool, cloudy weather, but have calmed in the present glorious sunshine.
The meeting was notable for a swarm collected on his scaffolding by Clive, great as a spectator!
Super photos on the website.
Clive also kindly produced lots of borage plants for members to take home. About 6 members took sealed queen cells to rescue queenless colonies – it will be interesting to know the results!
The DDBKA apiary has yielded 45 pounds of spring honey from hives 1 & 4; I don’t anticipate much of a summer crop [as last year].

13 members passed their Basic Assessment: Margret and Gordon Pau, Gabrielle Lindemann, Alastair Ling, Steve Boyce, David Stevenson, Jeff Herr, Jackie Thomas, Andrew Ball, Karen Maddaford, Tony Christian, Philip Nicholson and Dougal Hendry.

Congratulations to all concerned!

Mary will be teaching a course for the 2014 Assessment starting in February 2014, but her advice is only attempt it after 2 summers & 1 winter keeping bees.

N.B. The Examinations Board has decided to offer ALL modules at both the March and November sessions in 2014.  Uptake of the modules at both sessions has been so positive that there is a significant need for all modules to be available, particularly for resits.  Please let your tutors know and also any candidates in your area who may want to resit modules 6 and or 8 in March.

Please look at for 2nd level courses at KSRC Sittingbourne.

Hard work!
Dick Bunting , Pete Crow, Pat Stockhall & Jackie Thomas turned out to finish the job of strimming and grass collecting at the apiary.  Thank you!

Is anyone prepared to volunteer to wash and store the DDBKA bee suits and jackets in October and store them till the April meeting. We have bought a strong plastic box to keep them in, once clean.
Any takers? Please!

Bee Buddy Wendy Crush is hoping that someone will be able to help with lifting etc at her apiary at Geddinge – there is the offer of space for your bees if you can help.  07792 718739


A chance to win a complete National hive with gabled roof, (1st prize for UK entries), or a year’s subscription to Bee Craft plus the two books from Celia Davis: The Honey Bee Inside Out and The Honey Bee Around And About

11 runners up will receive £25 vouchers from BJ Sherriff International.

And the winning entries will feature in the 2014 Bee Craft calendar.

The closing date for the 2013 Bee Craft photo competition is 1st August 2013. So make sure you take your camera to the apiary and get that winning shot!

Photos must be taken horizontal (wider than tall), maximum size A4 (297 x 210mm). Do not send slides in glass mounts. Maximum three entries per person.

Include your name, address, telephone number and/or e-mail address with your entry.

Enclose a sae if you want your entry returned. Bee Craft retains the right to use any image submitted in its publications. The photographer retains copyright.

Send entries to:The Editor, Stoneycroft, Back Lane, Little Addington, Kettering NN14 4AX or e-mail: