How to attend?
Members are welcome to attend the Association Apiary meetings as advertised. If you would like to go along, please check timings and remember to take clean gloves and boots. There are always plenty of suits available to borrow from the apiary.
Remember that the weather can lead to last minute changes … a quick phone call could save a wasted journey!
Latest reports from the Apiary Management Committee:
Inspections at the Apiary have been less frequent this month. We have concentrated on removing the last of the honey, preparing the observation hives for the Melplash show and starting the autumn varroa treatments.
All seven hives have remained queen-right with healthy brood. Varroa counts have been low, generally below the NBU recommended treatment threshold but with unexplained spikes particularly on Hives 1 and 2 and overall an increasing trend. All have plenty of stores, with those on double brood and brood and a half having a whole box full of capped honey.
At the 11th August meeting we took off 6 more supers of capped honey for yet another sticky extraction session at Carole Brown’s house. The Apiary has produced over 300lbs of honey this year. This sold well at the Melplash Show as well as winning the class judged purely on taste. The proceeds will help to fund our plans for new sheds at the Apiary. We are hoping to replace the three small sheds with two larger ones which will be mouse-proof and give us more indoor space.
At the last session of the month each hive was given Apiguard Varroa treatment. The next meeting is the 7th September when the second treatment is scheduled and we will continue with the autumn clear up.
We had a good turnout for the July Apiary Members Meeting in lovely weather with 17 members which was a great help as it was a busy session … with a careful check on Hive 2 who had produced queen cells on a test frame of eggs given the week before.
Hive 4 had not produced queen cells on the frame she had been given so we assumed there was a queen in there. The new queen in Hive 5 was seen briefly but scuttled off before she could be marked. (She was spotted and marked two weeks later). All the hives were bringing in lots of pollen and nectar and two colonies required extra supers.
The following week the nectar flow continued with another three boxes of super frames required.
By the end of the month all seven hives were queen right with three queens from 2018; two from Exmoor Bees, one from Cheddington and four new queens from this year … one daughter of each of the Exmoor queens and two daughters from the 2018 Beaminster queen.
On the 18th July we took off seven supers of honey from five of the seven hives. This was again extracted in Carole Brown’s conservatory by students from this year’s course. All the wet supers went straight back on the relevant hives for cleaning and will be taken off at the next session. Several of the hives are still bringing in stores and we may need to take off more honey before the autumn varroa treatment.
However, most of the colonies are already contracting their brood nests with several on brood and a half completely filling the top brood box with stores.
It has been a busy month at the Apiary. Thanks to Carole Brown and Trevor Ford who led most of the sessions.
Sadly there was a poor turnout for the members meeting on the 1st of June especially as there was a lot to do for the few who did make it, including making up super frames (thank you Caroline) and taking off 43 super and 11 deep frames of capped honey. Carole Brown has just about cleared up the residues of honey from the extraction at her house on the 5th June, attended by several students!
Most of the colonies are doing well and are starting to build up stores again. Hive 1 and Hive 3 (2018 Exmoor bees’ queens) have remained queen right but both their daughters following their artificual swarms in May, started to lay but then appeared to try to supercede. One of these has probably succeeded but the other, Hive 4 was eventuallly given a frame of eggs from Hive 7 and has built queen cells on that. The next check in July will be to see if there is a laying queen in there.
The other two new queens from the split of Colony 5 (2018 Beamiinster swarm queen) are laying healthy brood and appear to be good tempered bees.
Hive 7 has still shown no inclination to swarm (the only one in this very swarmy year!) but it was felt she might be thinking about it at the last inspection!
We now have three hives on 14×12, and the other two on Nationals, two on single brood and two on brood and a half.
Becoming a member of West Dorset Beekeeping Association puts you in touch with a network of experienced Beekeepers. We enjoy our hobby and love to share our enthusiasm for our craft. See the list of benefits on the Membership page. A monthly newsletter keeps everyone involved and up to date with events and activities throughout the year.
Meeting other members and comparing colonies in the Association Apiary helps to develop practical experience and knowledge.
Yes! We would always encourage anyone who might be thinking about starting to keep bees to access some training. The WDBKA annual course for beginners is a good introduction and gives access to ongoing training with attendance at the Association Apiary throughout the season.
The time commitment varies through the year. During the active season each colony needs regular weekly inspections. Depending on the manipulations required this can take over an hour … or a matter of minutes! It is likely that your Beekeeping will absorb as much time as you are able to spend … once you catch the Beekeeping bug it seems to grow.
A good bee suit can cost up to £100. A hive and basic equipment will be around £300. A small nucleus colony will be about £200. Sometimes local swarms are offered to members for a donation to club funds.
The amount of surplus honey each colony produces will vary from one year to the next. A good beekeeper will always be sure to leave plenty of stores for their bees to use during the winter.
A strong, well established colony could give around 50lbs if the forage and weather are favourable … but there are always a lot of variables to consider.
The Association has close links to Kevin Pope, our local Seasonal Bee Inspector. He is always available to give advice and will visit your Apiary to check your bees.
Timely reminders are shared through the Association newsletter to guide members in good practice and to encourage close monitoring of Bee stocks.
All Beekeepers should register with the National Bee Unit. Their website contains a wealth of valuable information. They will also send direct email alerts to raise awareness of potential issues to Beekeepers e.g. reported sightings of Asian Hornets, how to identify diseases etc..