The site is designed to be a resource for members of the West Dorset Beekeepers’ Association (WDBKA) and for interested members of the general public.
Our Association draws its members from West Dorset, the area roughly west of Dorchester and the A37 (a smaller area than that covered by West Dorset District Council!)
What to do if you have a swarm of bees turn up in your garden? DON’T Panic! Find out more, and where to get help, by clicking on the “swarms” tab above.
Thinking about starting to keep bees?… again, contact us and we should be able to help, guide and support you in this exciting new venture. We usually run our popular course for beginners, which starts in early February, based at the Christian Fellowship Hall, Bridport 7-9.30pm for seven consecutive weeks. This is followed by four practical sessions in our own teaching apiary, where you can gain some experience in handling bees yourself, even before you acquire your own. The apiary meetings for beginners run fortnightly on Saturday afternoons in April and May.
Cost £60, including a non-refundable £10 deposit. Numbers are limited to 20. The 2016 course is now full, however there is a reserve list so please still register your interest and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Let us know if you’d like to visit us or click the tab at the top of this page to find further details about our course.
The WDBKA is affiliated to the BBKA – British Beekeeping Association. Their website provides a wealth of information and advice. All members of WDBKA will have been issued with a membership card for the BBKA which includes login details and a password to gain full access to the BBKA site.
All beekeepers are encouraged to register with BeeBase, the Fera National Bee Unit website. It is designed for beekeepers and supports Defra, WAG and Scotland’s Bee Health Programmes and the Healthy Bees Plan, which set out to protect and sustain our valuable national bee stocks.Their website provides a wide range of free information for beekeepers, to help keep their honey bees healthy and productive.
If you’ve read or heard about the pressures facing the honeybee – diseases, parasites, and so on – and would like to know what you can do to help, click here to download a list of Ten Things to do to Help Honey Bees. There’s guidance on everything from planting bee-friendly plants, through offering a home for a hive or two, to lobbying your MP to press for more support for research! If you’re interested in helping by planting bee-friendly trees, flowers or shrubs, click here to visit the comprehensive list published by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Nigel began by telling us he is in fact no longer our Regional Bee Inspector: he has recently been promoted to “Contingency Planning and Science Officer”. A new RBI will be appointed soon, and Nigel is the point of contact in the meantime. The Bee inspectors are now part of the Animal and Plant health Agency (APHA) as Fera has been privatised. There is hope that the National Bee Unit will escape the planned cuts to DEFRA.
The two pests Nigel dealt with were small hive beetle, and the Asian hornet. Neither has yet reached the UK but we need to be vigilant: it will probably a beekeeper who first spots their arrival. Each year 12,000 queen bees are imported from the Continent. Arrivals on the south coast are monitored and sentinel apiaries (including WDBKA’s apiary) have been set up in each region. Small hive beetle, unlike other, harmless hive beetles, breeds within the colony. It begs for food and bees feed it, but they also bother it, biting its legs, so it creeps to the edges of a hive.
Small hive beetle
The larvae eat everything — honey, brood and pollen — and the hive smells of fermented honey. The beetle is native to subsaharan Africa, where bee colonies escape its worst effects by constantly swarming and changing their home. This they cannot do in our climate. When ready to pupate, the larvae leave the hive and bury themselves in the soil for a month. Here they can be killed by spraying pyrethroid chemicals around the hives, or by watering the ground with nematodes which eat them.
The beetle reached southern Italy in 2014 probably via illegal bee imports, or swarms on a container. It is now compulsory to register hives there. Fourteen apiaries were found to contain SHB in the area this year. The source of re-infection could be feral bees, or bumblebees. People using bumblebees for pollination are supposed to destroy them at the end of the season but often do not.
Asian hornet poses a far greater problem for beekeepers. This large wasp is a bee specialist, with yellow feet and a very dark body. It builds huge, spherical nests high in tries. The fertilised queens emerge in February or March to start off their colonies. The hornets’ typical behaviour is to hover in front of a hive, facing outwards, and pick off bees returning, laden with nectar and pollen. They then fly up to a tree, pull off the wings, legs and other unwanted parts, and feed the rest of the bee to their young.
In France, where the Asian hornet is now well established, there is less than a 50% chance of a hive overwintering. Traps similar to wasp traps are used, and nests are destroyed.
Nigel concluded this sobering summary by saying we beekeepers must accept that coping with diseases and pests is part of bee husbandry. And it is essential that we all register on BeeBase, giving the number of colonies we have. A perk of this is that we can then access eLearning, a useful and entertaining resource.
Despite the gloomy subject of this talk, it was so entertainingly presented that we all enjoyed the evening. We also had a chance to see pickled examples of SHB and Asian hornet.
Report kindly by Caroline Dilke
Images Courtesy of The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Crown Copyright
Members from WDBKA were pleased to attend the annual Apple Day at Groves Nursery. It was a good opportunity to share information and encourage interested folk to sample a range of honey. People were surprised by the different flavours from local hives.
Funds were raised with the sale of cakes and honey… contributions towards the research project WDBKA has decided to support.
An evening meeting in October provided an opportunity for potential beekeepers to find out a bit more about the popular Beginners course – due to start in February 2016.
A range of experienced beekeepers gave short introductory talks to whet the appetites of new students. A range of key aspects of the craft were covered and there was plenty of time for questions during the coffee break.
The tutors are looking forward to the start of the next course – by the end of the evening there were very few places left!
The course is now full – please let us know if you are interested … we always keep a reserve list!
After another successful show we want to thank everyone for their support and enthusiasm.
Melplash is a brilliant showcase for WDBKA. We all had a great day!
Thank you Tilly … our expert flower arranger.
Thank you to all those who made delicious cakes to sell … they didn’t last long!
Honey sales were successful – a sell out!
The observation hives are always popular.
Congratulations for the Blue Ribbon – awarded for the best exhibit in the Honey Show.
Ready for the live bee demonstration?
Visitors to the show enjoy a closer look … what can you see?
An action packed, fun-filled day.
See you all next year!
There was plenty of time to catch up with the latest weather news as a good number of folk came to help set up the framework of the Bee Marquee on Tuesday evening.
The bees have arrived – thank you Trevor – and the bee net is still in position!
Tomorrow the finishing touches will be added – flowers, signage, floral display from Groves etc.
The first of several steps was taken this morning to begin to assemble the framework for our marquee at the Melplash Show. A group of trusty volunteers enjoyed the challenge of raising the bee net in far from ideal conditions.
Please remember that we are always glad to receive offers of help – don’t wait to be asked! Please take the initiative and if you can spare a bit of time either before or during the event we would be most grateful. Contact Caroline Dilke (01297 678741) to book your slot to help on the all important fundraising cake stall. If you can spare time to bake some honey cakes – buns, shortbread, scones, flapjack etc – we would be delighted. You are welcome to drop them off before the show to Carole (01308 456210).
The bees will move down to their temporary enclosure on Monday evening and the set up team will return on Tuesday evening from 6.15pm to set out the tables, chairs etc in the marquee – again … many hands make light work.
We hope to see you there … !
Fingers crossed for an improving weather picture as the week progresses.
See you on Thursday.
The second group of new beekeepers have now made their first visit to the WDBKA apiary.
The weather was warm and bright and the bees were too busy to take much notice! Eggs were spotted and brood in all stages was present for close scrutiny by the students.
An enjoyable afternoon was rounded off with a welcome cup of tea.
At this time of year it is always exciting when we can have a proper look inside the hives to see what our colonies have been up to. Click on the link to the Guardian website below to see Carole and Ken in action in Spring 2011.
They were “volunteered” to take part in a short film about beekeeping for the Guardian website. The opportunity came about when a friend of David Smith was talking with the filmmaker, Edwin Hasler of Soft City Films, about bees and the enthusiasm and dedication of beekeepers. Inspired by the idea he approached the Guardian and was commissioned to make this short film that now appears on the Guardian website.
The first group of students have enjoyed their initial visit to the apiary.
Although the weather was dry and bright it was still a bit chilly for the bees.
Several hives were inspected and everyone had an opportunity to handle frames and begin to develop the ability to identify brood in different stages. There will be plenty of time to practise their new skills in the following weeks.
A welcome cup of tea ended an enjoyable mornning.
WDBKA was invited to attend the annual Apple Day event at Groves Nursery in Bridport on Sunday 12th October.
The stall was manned from 10am til 4pm.
It was a good opportunity to promote beekeeping and sell some of the WDBKA honey stocks.
Thanks go to everyone who helped out on the day – setting up, dismantling and taking time to chat with interested members of the public.