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:
There has been a lot of activity at the Apiary this month. None of the Hives have been inspected, but ﬁve of the seven colonies have been fed between one and two gallons of 2:1 syrup. All are now heavy and should have enough stores for the winter.
Varroa mite drops have remained higher than we have previously experienced at this time of year. We have not been able to work out the cause — possibly drifting from untreated colonies locally. We plan to treat with Api-Bioxal at the end of December and will record the post-treatment mite counts again then.
We have seven colonies going into winter
Hive 1 (14×12 polyhive) 2018 Exmoor Bees queen
Hive 2 1(4×12 wood) 2019 queen — daughter of colony 1
Hive 3 (National Brood and a half) 2018 Exmoor Bees queen
Hive 4 (National Brood and a half) 2019 queen — daughter of colony 3
Hive 5 (National Double Brood) 2019 queen — daughter of 2018 Beaminster swarm
Hive 7 (National Brood and a half) 2018 Chedington queen
Hive 8 (National Brood and a half) 2019 queen — daughter of 2018 Beaminster swarm
We had a brilliant last member’s meeting of the year on the 5th of October. Twenty members turned up to help and a huge amount was achieved. As well as checking varroa trays and stores, cleaning and scorching all the used equipment, we managed to empty, dismantle and burn the clean shed and the small suit shed plus remove all the remaining rubbish on the site in preparation for the new cabin construction.
Those who have not visited the Apiary recently will notice a some dramatic improvements in the new year.
What a difference a month makes. In August we reported that most of the colonies had dropped low numbers of varroa, well below the NBU recommended treatment thresholds, also that all had plenty of stores.
All the hives were treated with Apiguard at the end of August and the mite drops were recorded over the whole month of treatment. The total nubers varied from as low as 125 in Hive 2 to over 1,000 in Hive 1. This has demonstrated that counting the natural mite drop can only be a rough indicator of levels of infestation and has shown a surprisingly wide variation in mite numbers in colonies in the same apiary.
The bees are already consuming stores. On the 23rd of September visit we all practised hefting (useful to be able to compare with our own hives) and we decided that five of the seven colonies will require feeding with syrup. This will be done on the last visit of the month.
At the October members meeting we plan to undertake the end of season clean up and sort out in preparation for the replacement apiary sheds.
Trevor Ford is leading the project to provide the Apiary with more robust storage and better organised work space. A 5m x 4m log cabin will provide clean storage, space to take suits on and off as well as a work area for making up frames. The dirty shed will also be replaced. Work to dismantle the existing sheds and erect the new buildings is planned for November.
Thank you Carole Astbury
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.
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..