If you are interested in bees you have come to the right place

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!)

Beekeeper opening hive

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 three 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 25. The 2016 course is now over but we have already started a list for 2017!

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.

Apiary visit for new Beekeepers

On Saturday 7th May a good number of students from the latest course for new beekeepers went to the WDBKA apiary to meet Kevin Pope, SBI.

It was a great opportunity for everyone to watch and learn as Kevin examined each colony to assess the health of the bees.

imageThank you to several WDBKA members who have worked so hard to spring clean the apiary. The freshly painted sheds, clean chairs, table and bench make a real difference.

Bees for Development Fundraising Event

Thank you to WDBKA member Sally Beeson and friends who raised £146.22 for Bees for Development on Saturday morning, 7th May.20160507_091133

 

It was a lovely warm Saturday market-day in Bridport and the plant stall generated quite a bit of interest.  It was good to have leaflets available as there were a few people very interested in the work of Bees for Development .

 

Surplus plants were donated for sale by local gardeners who always sow more seeds than they need and can’t bare to let them go to waste! The plants are labelled as they are brought in to avoid confusion. It’s a good opportunity to share growing advice and to try out new varieties. A satisfying way to spend a lovely sunny morning in the town.

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Children were invited to get involved by potting up seeds and small plants to take away and nurture at home. Hopefully they will eventually enjoy eating their home grown produce.

This was a great event to promote healthy options for both humans and bees!

 

New Beekeepers visit the Apiary

Having completed the theory part of the course  our student beekeepers have now moved on the gain practical experience in the apiary.P1010004

Although the weather was too cold for full inspections there were still plenty of jobs to do.

Cleaning and sterilising equipment, learning how to light a smoker … and keep it going!

 

 

 

Varroa levels were checked and colonies treated as required.

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WDBKA Course for new Beekeepers 2016

We are approaching the halfway point for the theory part of the current course for new Beekeepers.

So far the 25 students have listened to a variety of speakers and begun to develop their understanding. Last week we enjoyed a practical session during which everyone was able to make their own frame to take away with them … the first of many!

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NBU Annual Newsletter

Click here to download a copy of the annual NBU Southern Region Newsletter from Nigel Semmence.

Congratulations to Nigel who has been appointed as the Contingency Planning and Science Officer at the NBU.

Julian Parker is our new RBI. We look forward to meeting him at the Health and Hygeine Day on the 17th July.

 

Hive Theft Alert

Police are appealing for information after three hives containing honey bees were stolen from some allotments in Middlesborough, in the north east.

Closer to home we are concerned to hear that several hives have been stolen this month (Feb) in the Wimborne area.

Please be mindful of your own hive security and check that equipment is marked to aid identification.

WDBKA Annual Luncheon

The New Year has got off to a flying start for WDBKA!

Forty-one members, family and friends sat down to share an excellent meal in the club house at the Bridport golf course.

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Thank you to Carole for her slick organisation. How soon can we all book for next year!

Happy New Year !

Members and Friends of WDBKA should have received the new 2016 Programme of talks and events.

Click here to download your copy.

We look forward to another interesting and enjoyable year of beekeeping.

WDBKA is delighted to support the establishment of a beekeeping 1 Beekeeping Club at Marshwood Primary School. We look forward to updates as the year progresses. So far the children have constructed their flat pack hive and are looking forward to the arrival of child sized suits to aid the inspection of their first colony in the spring.

 

 

Bee Pests – talk by Nigel Semmence RBI

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

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.

Asian Hornet

Asian Hornet

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

 

WDBKA local at Apple Day Event

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.P1000966