Archive for the Beekeeping Category

Bees Abroad

Members attending the 6 January 2018 winter talk were fortunate to hear Geoff Redwood’s presentation on the work of the charity Bees Abroad.

Geoff is the Chair of Farnham Beekeepers and works with Bees Abroad as a volunteer.  The charity was formed in 1999 and aims to provide training and education in beekeeping skills in developing countries.  Projects are primarily undertaken in Africa but work has been undertaken in other areas including Nepal and South America.   Projects are designed to be appropriate to the locality, and to enable beekeepers to become self-sufficient.

Together with local NGOs, the charity works with new beekeepers to develop skills such as hive building, apiary set-up, extraction, wax processing and the development of business cases to sell products.   Hive building and apiary set-up is in line with tradition and local practice.

Training presents the additional challenge of dealing with the highly defensive African honeybee and for a host of predators unfamiliar to beekeepers in the UK, including honey badgers, snakes and reptiles.  Colonies tend to be smaller and may swarm five or six times a year.  Varroa and disease is therefore less of a problem but honey yield may be smaller.

For more information or to support the charity, please see the charity’s website, or email

Winter Beekeeping – January in the Apiary

Although the weather may be too cold and wet for bees to be active, there are still a number of things to do in the apiary to make sure both bees and beekeepers are well-prepared for a flying start when Spring arrives.    Members who attended the 6 January winter meeting were given some useful hints and tips by Brian Herbert.

~ Check hives for rodents, woodpecker and storm damage.

~ Check stores.  Either heft the hive or, if the weather is mild, check for stores in the top of the super or brood.

~If feeding is required, make sure you have sufficient fondant.  This can either be bought from beekeeping suppliers or baking wholesalers, or home-made. If making your own, recipes are available on a number of websites.

~If in doubt, add fondant but make sure this is removed as the season begins.

~Examine and clean all spare equipment.  Propolis is easier to remove in colder temperatures.

~Check stored comb and boxes regularly for wax moth.  Either treat frames and supers with acetic acid, or freeze.  Badly damaged frames should be burnt.  Note that acetic acid corrodes metal, so all metal parts should be removed before treatment.

~Consider whether you want to treat with oxalic acid and if so, whether the trickle or vapour method is to be used.   Note that for treatment to be effective, the colony must be broodless.   A broodless period can be encouraged by allowing sufficient airflow in the hive.

~Plan for the forthcoming season.  How do you intent to manage swarms? Do you want to increase the number of colonies?  Do you intent to do a full comb change early in the season?

~Check whether you have enough equipment.  As a rough guide, it may be useful to have three supers and a spare brood box for each hive.



As an extension to the Winter Training Talk occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping, the first session aimed at the Proficient level was held on Wednesday 29th November 2017 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:15.

Presented by: Brad Davis

The areas covered included:

  • Waggle Dance
  • Round Dance
  • Sickle Dance
  • Shake (DVAV) Dance
  • Tremble Dance
  • Beep Dance
  • Buzz Run
  • Jostling Run
  • Spasmodic Dance
  • Grooming Dance
  • Washboarding


More Than Honey

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the ninth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Saturday 28th October 2017 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:15.

Presented by: Brad Davis

The areas covered included:

  • Wax
  • Pollen
  • Venom
  • Propolis
  • Queens
  • Nucleus Colonies
  • Packages

Hive Design; Equipment; Stings; Aggressive Colonies

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the eighth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Wednesday 4th October 2017 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:15.

Presented by: Brad Davis

The areas covered included:

  • Stings
  • Aggressive Colonies
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Equipment & Hygiene
  • Hive Design
    • Beespace
    • Types of Hive

Click here for slides

National Honey Show News 2017

The next National Honey Show is just around the corner, again at Sandown Park. The Show was a tremendous success last year and now that we have a better understanding of the venue we have been able to make some tweaks to the programme to ensure visitors have an even better experience this year. Producing the National Honey Show Schedule each year is a mammoth task. The team have now gathered all the information for 2017 and the Schedule has been printed. It will be posted out to members who have chosen to receive their printed copy and published on the website.

There are some changes to the schedule this year with the addition of new classes, which has meant renumbering the classes. Changes to classes or NEW classes are denoted on the left next to their class number by a little flag shaped triangle:► New classes include:

  • 18 A ‘For sale’ display of honey and beeswax products
  •                  63 Metheglin or hyppocras
  •                  64 Melomel or pyment
  •                  65 Cyser
  •                135 Honey marmalade
  •                138 Honey vinegar

Membership and competitive entry forms are separate sheets this year, not bound into the Schedule. They will be posted with the Schedule and/or you can download them from the website. Entry forms need to be sent to the Entries Secretary by 9th October, with forms for the videos, essays, microscope slides and photographs submitted by 15thSeptember.

Local Beekeeping Associations have supported the show by, for the first time, sponsoring three of the main lectures in the Gold Cup Suite. This is a taller room than last year so hopefully there will not be any problem viewing the slides, even when the room is full. There will again be a hearing loop in the room. We have been fortunate to secure three renowned speakers from the US: Tom Seeley (professor in Biology at Cornell University), Kim Flottum (Editor of Bee Culture Magazine) and Heather Mattila (Professor at Wellesley College, Massachusetts). Together with some more local speakers such as Peter Tomkins from Rothamstead Research, Will Steynor and Roger Patterson they will be giving some compelling lectures!

Bee Craft continues to support the Show with their series of Friday lectures.  Young researchers from UK Universities will present updates on their current studies covering a range of topics including pollination, neonicotinoids, and EFB to name a few.  Plus the B Kids stand in the trade hall, offering activities for younger beekeepers such as candle rolling, mask making, make a shake-a-bee, label a bee, bee colouring sheets, a ‘Find the Queen’ raffle and more.

There are a lot of interesting lectures and workshops aimed at Beginners this year. There will be a Taster Workshop run by Celia and David Rudland on Saturday for those thinking of becoming beekeepers and who want to know more about what’s involved. Please could associations close to Sandown Park advertise this locally to encourage people to attend – they’ll also have the opportunity to see the fabulous Honey Show display and visit the Trade stands for an idea of what equipment they might need if they go ahead with beekeeping. The Saturday Programme aimed at beekeepers in the first year or two of beekeeping really tries to help them understand what is going on in the hive, how they can best interpret events and develop their beekeeping skills. This series of lectures is held on the Saturday so that those who are working during the week are free to attend. Visit the website to find out more.

This year’s Trade hall promises to be as vibrant as ever. There will be a coffee stand selling sandwiches and snacks in the Champagne Bar, so that those at the far end of the hall and coming from the workshops will have a shorter walk to seek refreshment.

Workshops are open to National Honey Show members. They are popular and must be booked in advance. Booking opens on 1st September.  Booking information is given on our website  This year’s programme includes many old favourites plus some new areas of interest such as making wax fruit, cooking with honey, labour saving devices, to name a few.

Many volunteers are needed to help run the show.  If you can offer a couple of hours or half a day stewarding, you would be warmly welcomed.  We also need chairpeople for the workshops and lectures. Do please contact Bill:

Other than that it’s not too late to book a trade stand, plan your entries, plan a visit, book a minibus or organise a coach to the show.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Val, Fiona and Helen

BeeConnected, the new on-line Spray Liaison Scheme

The old Spray Liaison Scheme, based on members being notified of spraying in their area by an Association volunteer, has been replaced by an on-line system at


Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the sixth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Wednesday 23rd November 2016 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:30 start.

Presented by: Brad Davis

The areas covered included:

  • Benefit of local forage crops
  • The special requirements of some crops
  • Undesirable sources of honey
  • The composition of nectar
  • Source and characteristics of honeydew
  • Conversion of nectar to honey
  • The use of pollen to identify honey
  • Other forage, water, pollen and propolis


Asian Hornet

Hilary Haywood (SBI) will be keeping us up to date with the Asian hornet threat and telling us what we can do to protect our bees.

We will be having a practical “Blue Peter” session, making traps out of large Coke (other drinks are available!) bottles, though seemingly without sticky-backed plastic.

It promises to be very informative and sticky session, and with cake.

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the seventh session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping will be held on Saturday 7th January 2017 at the Petersfield Community Centre starting promptly at 7:30pm doors open at 7pm.

To be presented by: Hilary Haywood

Swarm Prevention & Control

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the fifth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Wednesday 26th October 2016 at the Petersfield Community Centre.

Presented by: Brian Herbert

The areas covered included:

  • Biology of Swarming
  • Preparation for Swarming
  • Swarm Prevention
  • Basic Elements of Swarm Control
  • Swarm Control Methods
  • Taking and Hiving a Swarm