Monday 1 May 2023

Newsletter, May 2023

 Newsletter May 2023

Dear beekeeper,

A month of drama!                                                                                                                                                                      The first swarm appeared in Great Mongeham on April 30th, later than usual, due to the coldest, wettest, dullest spring for 30 years. We knew it & our bees did too. Luckily the swarm settled only 12 feet from the parent hive.                                                                                                                                                                                 Things are now moving rapidly, so please report to me any swarms or surplus bees you come across, 10 members still hope to replenish lost bees or just get started.    April’s meeting heard some very sad tales of people who had lost all bees, some after 30+ successful years.

Claire surprised me with her decision to give up beekeeping, as she felt it was quite a burden to be always on bee-alert. She has been a very valuable member since 2014, the queen of refreshments!    Very generously, she donated her 4 colonies to long-standing members who had lost everything, helping to reduce the number needing bees. Claire will still play a part in our Association thank goodness, & will have some equipment to sell later.

Roger Knight & his wife suffered an extremely serious fire at their home & bee shed in Whitfield.  He lost one hive; one was badly charred & the third knocked about by the rescuing fire crew. Amazingly the 2 were still full of bees, getting repeatedly drenched with water helped.   The damage to their property is truly awful, a roof destroyed, 2 cars written off as well. It will be a year before all is restored. A swarm took to the air a couple of days later there too, now gone to a DDBKA member, as has the blackened hive including its bees.

Then last week I had an unusual call from a “location finder” looking for somewhere to do some filming for a TV dating show where an American would meet her date in this country. Both were interested in beekeeping, could we help? 

My first requests met with a stony silence, but in Dover, Dave Grayling kindly offered his hives & garden, plans were made, suits were got ready, but of course it all fell through as they had over-estimated the logistics & time they had.  Prospects for fame disappeared rapidly!

Today’s news is of a credible sighting of an Asian Hornet discovered in a workshop 15 miles from Ashford. Doesn’t say in which direction from Ashford. It was caught & is being analysed by scientists. Please keep up your vigilance, use the Asian Hornet Watch app to report any sightings, a dead one or a clear photo are vital.         

                                                         HONEY JARS For MEMBERS                                                                                                                           Now at Unit 12, AB Crush panel beaters, opposite the Shepherdswell turning on the A2 to Five Oaks, Geddinge         CT4 6RY.        The procedure remains the same, order to me, payment to Philip, collection on a Friday from 11 to 12, it is a really busy site with vehicles, deliveries etc.                                    PRICES: 1lb jars, including lids, in boxes of 72 £23.50                 12oz jars SOLD OUT- discontinued                                                                                               8oz round jars & lids are £34.50 for 128                                                                                                                                                                                             

10 boxes of 1lb jars left now, 4 boxes of half pound jars left.                                                                 I lb jars & half pound jars are still available at the above prices; once that stock is sold, the new prices will be £30 for 1lb jars & £45 for half pounds.


Keep checking your hives at weekly intervals to look for any problems, you are likely to notice an increase in the hive population, and when you see drones appearing then it will be possible for a new queen to be developed quickly & for her individual cell to be sealed.                                                         

Once that cell is sealed, the old queen will fly off taking a third or more of your colony with her. The bees will have been choosing their preferred site and will all know through colony communication where they will be heading.

Your task is to make them go along with your plan, which is to allow a division of the colony, not to lose them in a flight to who knows where. Prepare a nuc box to receive the old queen on her frame, another frame of brood & one of food, one or two of foundation, shake in some extra bees & close the box, move it to a space within your apiary, open at dusk, they should be settled & the main hive can peacefully wait for the virgin to emerge. 


 This month’s meeting:  Saturday 27th May     2:30 pm

At the DDBKA Eythorne apiary at Eythorne Court   CT15 4AD. 

It is along Shepherdswell Road, near Eythorne travelling towards Shepherdswell, on the left, near a black wooden building. We park in the next field; you will see cars and a gate to enter. If you are a new member or visitor, please make yourself known, we get busy!

Please remember your beesuit.

 We shall have a register for you to sign please. Signing will confirm that you have read the Health & Safety policy sent out last month. Please pay regard to safety considerations.

·        If you haven’t picked up your emergency contact card it will be a chance to do so.

·        Jackie will be demonstrating a shook swarm procedure with the weaker colony

·        We will also have a discussion session on swarm control methods & techniques, Mary Hill will show how to collect a swarm in her own inimitable style.

·        Tea [£2] & raffle as usual      Bring your own mugs!!!

·        Take the opportunity to change your library books

Best wishes, hoping to see you,