ECBKA NEWSLETTER – May 2015
Well, I got my wish and we have had some fantastic weather for the willow. My hives are now gooey & sticky with willow nectar that the bees seem to enjoy stuffing into brace comb even though there is plenty of room for it elsewhere. If you haven't tasted willow honey, snaffle a bit from the hive & give it a try. It's sublime. We've had a couple of sharp frosts here, down to minus 4c but fortunately it doesn't seem to have destroyed the blossom on my plum & damson trees and my bees have been earning their keep (hopefully) pollinating them for the last few days.
I hope those members who attended Wally & Jenny Shaw's talks found them informative. They certainly have a no nonsense, practical approach based on their own experiences that they are more than happy to share with anyone willing to listen. If you've stashed away Wally's two booklets (sent out with recent copies of Welsh Beekeeper) I would suggest that you get them out again & have another read. There were only a small number of people able to stay for the afternoon Q & A so we remained sitting around the lunch table and had a wide ranging discussion with Wally & Jenny.
The introductory course has now finished with an enjoyable practical session hosted by Alan and Ann. Thank you once again to them for their hospitality. Than you also to Melanie for her wax demonstrations, Terri and Bridget for their frame making skills and Keith and Paul for their bee handling skills. This is where the rest of you could now be needed. We will be looking for mentors for new beekeepers as the season progresses. You do not need to be an 'expert' or have years of experience so please consider helping someone else to get started if you are able.
Nikki has opened up the hives at the association apiary and will be making weekly visits from now (2.00pm on Thursdays unless otherwise notified). Any members able to be there are always very welcome. For those unable to make a Thursday afternoon there will be some weekend dates for apiary meetings during the season too.
There is a quantity of good quality beekeeping equipment at the apiary, from an ex member, that will be auctioned to ECBKA members at the apiary on Saturday 13th June. The inventory and further details will be published on the website shortly.
Terri, Bridget and Melanie demonstrating frame making and candle making
Saturday 9th May – Teifiside BKA Bee & equipment auction. 10.30am viewing. For details see flyer in the April newsletter
Tuesday 12th May 7.30pm – Committee meeting
Thursday 14th May 8.00pm – Talk by Lyndsey Maiden, Planting for Pollinators + bring and buy plant sale
Saturday 16th May & Sunday 17th May – ECBKA stand at the Spring Festival, Builth Wells
Saturday 13th June – Equipment sale at the Association Apiary
Saturday 4th July – Visit to Tropical Forest Products, Aberystwyth
Spring Festival (Smallholders' Show)
Doug has already informed members of the ECBKA stand at the Spring Festival at the RWAS Showground in Builth Wells on the weekend of 16th & 17th May. The stand will be in the food hall as part of the Menter a Busnes, Cywain Bee Project exhibit and we will be selling honey produced by the Association and some of its members. The WBKA will also have a beekeeping exhibit in the flower hall.
We are still looking for more volunteers to help man the stand on both of the days. If you are willing to spend a couple of hours on our stand you will receive a free entry ticket (£14 on the gate) for the day. Please let Doug know if you are able to help.
Your Beekeeping Queries
The group is for Association members only and Doug is the man to grant you access. If you already have a facebook profile just find Doug (Doug Taylor Llandeilo) and ask him to add you to the group. The more the merrier so please enrol. You may well be like me and have never wanted to have anything to do with facebook. Well, I did set up a profile and apart from seeking out Doug's friendship and being signed up to the ECBKA group I have just let the rest of it pass me by (antisocial networking Nikki calls it). You don't have to be friends with your sister in law's hairdresser or your nephew's plumber – so if I have ignored anybody I'm not being antisocial, I just don't 'do' facebook.
In recognition of the fact that there will be members who do not wish to go down this route we will also be setting up an @ec-bka e mail address that members can use when they need beekeeping related advice. There will be a small pool of members who will receive your query and hopefully be able to dispense relevant advice. In this case your query and any responses will only be seen by you and the pool of advisers.
If you have sufficient beekeeping experience and would like to be included on the pool of advisers please let me know and we will get the e mail facility set up.
May Meeting – Planting for Pollinators
Don't forget the May meeting on Thursday 14th May – 8.00pm. Lyndsey Maiden from the Wales Wildlife Trust will be talking about planting for pollinators. I hope that some of you have managed to produce a few excess plants for the bring and buy plant sale. I hope that mine manage to grow a bit more in the next 10 days. If you bring plants to sell we would like a donation of 10% minimum to the Association from the sale proceeds. If you don't have plants to sell please come along anyway to buy.
We look forward to seeing many of you there.
One of our members (presumably others too) recently received notification that AFB had been found within 3km of their apiary. This should be a timely reminder to us all of the advantage of Beebase registration. If your apiary locations are registered on Beebase you will be made aware of any notifiable disease outbreaks close to you.
Of course, we should also practise good biosecurity measures to guard against the possible spread of any nasties. If anyone is visiting the Association apiary please make sure that your suit, boots and gloves are clean and use the apiary hive tools, smokers and other kit, not your own.
If you are not yet registered on beebase, or need to register when you get bees, go to
World Adventure / Gwlad y Gwenyn
My family and I have recently returned from travelling the world for 11 months; taking in all four corners of the globe. We flew 34 times in all and visited 13 countries along the way. Due to my great interest in Bee keeping I was thrilled to experience the variety of apiaries and beehives across the world.
Mae fy nheulu a finne newydd ddychwelyd o fod yn teithio i bedwar ban byd am agos at flwyddyn cyfan. Teithiom i 13 gwlad ar hyd y daith a goddef 34 siwrne mewn awyren. Oherwydd fy niddordeb mewn gwenyn, braf oedd gweld y trawsdoriad o gychod gwenyn mewn nifer o wledydd ar hyd y ffordd.
Firstly we travelled the Western coast of America. Visiting the national parks of Yosemite and Kings canyon along the way, it was amazing to see the vast orchards to the west of the Sierra Navada mountain range covered in valuable greenery. It seemed to me, that every hilltop was covered with dozens of hives, with the bees being used to pollinate oranges, limes, lemons, olives, grapes and many other trees and vines that are a multimillion/billion pound industry in California.
Wrth deithio’r parciau cenedlaethol Yosemite a Kings Canyon yng Ngorllewin America, aethom heibio i filoedd o berllanau orennau, leims, lemwns, olives, grawnwin a degau o ffrwythau eraill. Mae’r holl law sy’n disgyn ar fynyddoedd y Siera Nevada yn drysor i’r ffermwyr yma, sy’n cyfrannu cymaint i economi’r wlad. Roedd gweld degau o gychod gwenyn ar gopa pob bryn yn fy atgoffa pa mor bwysig yw’r wenynen wrth beillio holl ffrwythau a gwinllanu Califfornia.
The difference between the West and Eastern side of the mountains were striking. Giant sequoia trees dominated the hillsides, and the high rainfall and nutrient supply from the mountains made the valley below very fertile for farming.
The Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains was hot and barren, with little or nothing growing apart from the odd cactus here and there. Death valley is of course one of the hottest places on earth with a fierce reputation and boasts dramatic scenery.
The next country we saw numerous beehives was New Zealand. On the North Island especially, it was impossible to pull into a layby to stretch your legs due to the massive number of beehives left there by bee farmers. This was usually near the Manuka covered hills and mountainsides North of Auckland.
Y wlad nesaf i ni weld cychod gwenyn di-ri oedd Seland newydd. Heb air o gelwydd, roedd bron pob lay-by ar ynys y gogledd yn llawn cychod gwenyn. Yn enwedig lle roedd mynyddoedd a bryniau wedi gorchuddio a’r planhigyn Manuka. Ni fyddau modd stopio’r campervan i ymestyn y coesau heb ddod wyneb yn wyneb a miliynau o wenyn yn ceisio dychwelyd neu ffoi o’r cychod niferus.
While in India we visited the most interesting hives. On the new road between Delhi and Agra, we passed many villages with numerous apiaries. These hives resembled our own National hives to some extent, but with one obvious difference. Being very poor villagers and farmers they seemed to place a hessian sack at the top of the hive instead of a crown board and place no frames inside. The bees would then produce and attach comb to the hessian sack, which would extend into the cavity below.
India oedd y wlad mwyaf diddorol i mi o safbwynt y gwenyn. Wrth deithio rhwng Delhi ac Agra roeddwn wedi passio sawl gwenynfa mawr ar ochr y draffordd. Byddai’r ffermwyr/pentrefwyr tlawd lleol yn gosod sach ‘hessian’ dros y cwch yn lle’r ‘Crown board’ ac yn gadael i’r gwenyn gynhyrchu cwyr eu hunain fyddai’n ymestyn lawn mewn i’r gwagle oddi tano.
There were many other countries where we saw interesting hives and apiaries, but by the time the camera was out of the bag, the opportunity had passed and I’d missed the photo opportunity.
Gwelais nifer o gychod erail mewn sawl gwlad arall ar hyd y ffordd, ond ni chefais gyfle i dynnu lluniau. Rhy araf i dynnu’r camera o’r bag !!!
If you would like to read more about our travels (only in welsh sorry !!) or see some photos of our family highlights, please visit our blog -teulumewnbacpac.wordpress.com
May 2015 Notes
and sunshine they come and go with no great benefit in the hive. Look out for red pollen from the horse chestnut, a pleasant strong smell from the hawthorn and a not very pleasant smell from foraging on dandelions.
In some areas beekeepers are already achieving a honey surplus from the spring flow. Space is a vital factor. There must be plenty of space to keep up with the queen’s massive egg laying effort and supering space should be given well ahead of requirements. You should super for bees rather than for honey. When you see the bees have spread out to the outer edges of the super frames it is time for another super.
There is always lots of discussion about whether the new super should go on top of the old one or underneath. Traditional wisdom has it that the bees will go into the new super more quickly if it is put on underneath the full super and this will be beneficial to the bees because they exploit the space much more rapidly. The supporters of the other camp argue that the bees go into them quickly enough at this time of year and to put the supers on the top is easier work. Then a quick glance will show whether you need another super because you only need to lift the crown board. I am an advocate of the latter point of view but suggest that it is best if the combs are already drawn out.
By now, you should be monitoring your brood regularly. You should be looking for a tight regular brood pattern which is expanding on a weekly basis and typically reaching a peak by the end of May, so that the foraging force is at its maximum 6 weeks later in July, when the peak summer honey flow usually occurs. If the queen is laying consistently, then the amount of sealed brood is twice the amount of unsealed brood, which is twice the amount of eggs – remember the 3, 6, 12 day interval of the egg, larva, pupa stages. At peak, the queen can lay anything between 1-2 thousand eggs per day. If egg laying tails off unexpectedly, it may be due to the weather or the first symptom of swarm preparation.
I’ve heard of bees swarming already. If you have strong hives, or they are at all restricted in space, or have been producing copious drones they could be making swarm preparations. Hopefully you’ve cleaned up brace comb, replaced poor frames, marked your queen, have a spare hive and worked out your management strategy for when you find queen cells. These should not come as any surprise if you have watched the frames of bees and brood increase, and inspections should be on a 7 day basis if you do not want to risk losing a swarm.
My chosen swarm control method, when finding charged queen cells, is to take a nuc out with the old queen (Alan Surman method): mark a good queen cell in the parent colony, return 5 days later and remove all other cells, then check 3 weeks later for a new young laying queen. Make sure no queen cells remain with the old queen in either of these manipulations and, if your colony has frames of foundation to draw out, be prepared to feed them so that they have the resources for the job. Keep an eye on the old queen as she could just build up rapidly again and want to swarm anyway, clipping her wings gives you more time for swarm control. I can recommend the ‘one handed queen catcher’ as sold by Thornes and others for this.
If you are relying on biotechnical means to control varroa, you should have your shallow frame in the brood box producing a slab of drone comb for removal every 3 weeks and be sugar dusting at about the same interval. Those who have used Apiguard and Oxalic acid last year should have come out of the winter with low mite levels that will not require further treatment yet. Monitor for mite drop if in doubt, or, better still at this time of year, uncap drone brood with an uncapping fork and assess mite levels. If over 5 – 10% of pupae are infested, consider a summer control.
Keep an eye on varroa levels and don’t lose that swarm!
Margaret Watson (chair)John Dray
Doug Taylor (secretary)Frank Gellatly
Huw Jones (treasurer)Keith Hall