Kent Beekeepers Association Bromley Branch

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November 2009

Published 8 November, 2009

Bromley Bee News

Published by the Bromley Beekeepers Association

Welcome to the November 2009 issue of Bromley Branch News.

The mild weather this autumn has seen the bees continue to forage on some of the late flowering perennials and ivy, this all helps to keep the brood rearing going a little longer, producing young healthy bees to see them through the winter months.

I know some of our members were late treating their bees for Varroa with thymol gel (Apiguard), this product is less effective at killing mites when the outside temperature falls below 15ºC. The next opportunity of Varroa control is with a weak solution of oxalic acid which can be dribbled on to the bees in late December-January during a cold spell when the bees are clustering.

In this months newsletter we have articles from Tony Ashby on the reason why you should keep bees in WBCs, and Greek mythology. Alex Rowe recounts when he got his first bees.

Honey clases 2009
Competitive Honey Clases at the 2009 National Honey Show in Weybridge

National Honey Show 2009
I visited the show on the Saturday, it took some time finding a parking space as the car parks were almost full. The honey displays and competition exhibits looked more impressive this year, over two hundred people had entered, thirty more than last year!
To really do this show justice, one day visits are not enough, so it is worth becoming a member which only costs £10. This entitles you to visit the show on all three days. The National Honey Show was featured on the 8th November 2009 the Radio 4 Food Programme.

Steven Turner

Reasons for Keeping Your Bees in WBC Hives
Double walls provide added protection against inclement weather and insulation against extremes in temperature. No more shivering or damp bees. Think cavity walls.

Lifts can be painted for added protection against the weather without fear that paint fumes will upset the bees or contaminate the honey, because the bees are not in contact with the lifts.

When you are dismantling and inspecting your colonies, lifts placed on the ground form convenient platforms on which to rest the supers. No more putting supers filled with honey (which is a food) on the ground or any other dirty surface.

Tony's WBC Hive
One of Tony's nicely painted WBC hives

Protection against woodpecker attack. There are plenty of woodpeckers where my hives are, but in thirty years I have never had any attacks or attempted attacks from them. The double walls seem to deter them.

They look like beehives, and are an attractive ornament to any garden or apiary, as well as being well designed and convenient working hives.

Tony Ashby

Chairman’s Ramblings

A Traditional Summer Fête
You will be pleased to learn that the traditional summer fête is still alive and well – in Cudham – a coconut shy, plenty of jams and marmalade for sale, a beer tent, large mugs of freshly made tea and a generous slice of home made cake for £1.50 (worth going just for that), tug-o-war, country dancing, giant cabbages, Bromley Beekeepers and a perfect summer’s day.
The crew put up the marquee in a pretty slick operation. We had record honey sales (over £600.00) and the candle makers were kept busy. The Mayor and Mayoress of Bromley were also in attendance to give out the prizes for the various competitions but managed to find time to visit all the stalls. Quick thinking Mary, or was it Claire, made and presented the Mayoress with a candle and I presented the Mayor with a jar of local honey.
We did have one minor problem and that was wasps who were taking a keen interest in the various jars of honey for tasting. Fortunately, no one swallowed one but any suggestions for next year as to how to keep them at bay would be gratefully received.
Please don’t by shy in volunteering to help at these events even if you can only do an hour or so. There is always plenty to do and your help will be very much appreciated.

Bromley Mayor Cudam 2009
Jenny and the Mayor of Bromley

Jennifer Spon-Smith

Many people are familiar with the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but it is not so well known that there is a beekeeping connection to the story.

Eurydice, a Princess of Thrace, trod on a snake on her wedding day. It bit her, she died, and went to the Underworld. Her distraught husband, Orpheus, pleaded with Pluto, the God of the Underworld, to return her to him. Pluto, touched with compassion, relented, and said that Orpheus could enter the Underworld and lead Eurydice out, but that he must not look at her until they had left the Underworld. Orpheus’s impatience overcame him however. He broke Pluto’s condition, looked back at his beloved wife as he led her out, and she was lost for ever.


The reason why Eurydice trod on the snake in the first place was that she was fleeing from Aristaeus, who was trying to seduce her. Aristaeus kept bees, and, as punishment for causing Eurydice’s death, the Wood Nymphs destroyed his beehives.
Aristaeus’s mother, Cyrene, advised him to sacrifice four heifers and four bulls to the spirits of Eurydice. He did this, and soon after found enough bees issuing from the carcasses of these animals to compensate him for the loss of his bees.

Tony Ashby

New to Bees
For years I’ve pestered members of my family to keep bees. I’ve always thought it an interesting and useful activity, besides which I love honey. I’ve always believed myself to be too busy but alas no-one seemed prepared to take up the activity, so there we were a bee-less family.

During a recent (about a year ago) lull in my normal state of frenzied activity, my wife mysteriously found a bee keeping course that was run by Lewisham adult education. She phoned up, found that there was one place left on the course and immediately signed me up for it.

I thought I might as well go, learn the basics and a few years down the line I might actually get round to getting a hive.

Well the course tutor was Karl Kemper, whom I’m sure many of you know.
I really enjoyed the course and found Karl’s enthusiasm for bee keeping somewhat contagious. (I was to find out later that all bee-keepers I meet seem to be enthusiastic about bee keeping; given half a chance they love to talk about it; and albeit may be expressed differently by each bee-keeper there tends to be a common thread – they love it and it is contagious)

Well throughout the course Karl repeatedly told us that we should join a local bee-keepers’ association when we had completed the course because his course was simply an introductory course. We would continue to learn much more about bee keeping by joining a bee-keepers’ association he kept telling us.

Alex Rowe Hive 1
Bees flying well

So I ended up being a fairly regular attendee at the Sunday morning meetings at the Kent House Road allotments’ apiary watching and listening to Peter Springall and a host of other knowledgeable bee-keepers.

From there it was a short and fast route to getting a hive and then putting my name on Clive Watson’s swarm list.

One evening in June my wife and I were sitting in an Indian restaurant not far from home. We had just ordered our food when the mobile phone rang.
It was Clive.

The conversation was conducted in Clive’s inimitable style & went something like this: -

Clive: - Clive here. Are you ready for bees?
Me: - Er- Yes.
Clive: - Can you take them now?
Me: - Er ….
Clive: - Are you at home?
Me: - No but I could be in about an hour.
Clive: An hour? Well I’ve got to pop into the allotment and then drive to you. I might be there earlier than that. If you find a cardboard box on your doorstep when you get back then it is your bees.

End of conversation!

Well up until that point I had been fairly blasé about the whole thing and had absorbed lots of theoretical information about bees and beekeeping.

My wife says that as Clive finished speaking to me all the colour drained out of my face.

I believe her because what was racing through my mind was the fact that I hadn’t a clue how to get bees out of a cardboard box and into a beehive.

I suspect that what was showing on my face was a combination of uncertainty, fear & panic!

When the food arrived we immediately ordered the bill and shovelled the food down our throats as quickly as possible to try and get home before Clive arrived. I think the restaurant staff thought we were mad or perhaps starving. I doubt they have ever seen food disappear so quickly!

We almost ran home and I was some yards in front of my wife in getting to the front gate.
To my immense relief the doorstep was devoid of cardboard boxes and I turned to my wife and said ” Phew, we beat him to it”.

At that there was a gentle toot on the horn and there sitting in his van outside the gate was Clive.
He was already there and waiting for us.

He came through the house with the cardboard box wrapped in a twist of fine mesh and out into the back garden and down to the hive.
He asked me if I had a piece of timber.
I offered one to him - “it’s too long” said Clive.
I offered another – “it’s too thin” said Clive.
At this he put the box of bees on the floor and started to scout around himself for an appropriate piece of timber.
His eyes lit upon an outside doormat – sort of rigid rubber with metal struts through it.
He picked it up knocked off most of the dirt and lent it up like a ramp against the hive.
He then unwound the twist of mesh around the box.

At this point I was watching very carefully. I noticed that the top of the box was carefully taped up and I was wondering if he was going to cut a small hole in the box to let the bees out one at a time or what.
My wife & I were both standing very close to Clive as he picked up the box and took about two steps to the hive.
He suddenly`(and very unexpectedly as far as we were concerned) sort of banged the box on the ramp.
Out fell hundreds if not thousands of bees.
I was astonished – there was no bottom to the box!!
It was a spectacular sight – like a shimmering, moving, golden sea.

My wife started to run up the garden path and Clive called after her not to run away.

I’m going for my camera she replied and continued running. I do believe Clive grinned at her reply and in the realisation that the bees had acquired two more converts.

Well below is one of the pictures taken by my wife of the newly arrived swarm.
We stood entranced by the sight of all those bees and watched until the last one had found its way into their new abode.

Alex Rowe Hive 2
Alex's first bees run in the hive

Clive must have seen similar sights many, many times but he seemed to be as entranced by the bees as we were.

Well the bees seem to have settled OK and my very amateurish hive investigations indicate that they have filled 8 out of the 10 frames in the brood box.

I am keeping my fingers crossed and also supplementing their supplies in the hope that they survive the winter.

Then next year I can begin in earnest to transform some of the theory into ‘hands on’ skills and hopefully harvest some honey.

Thanks Clive – it was fascinating to watch you and see at first hand your confidence with the bees & then listening to you recounting some of your swarm collection anecdotes.

I’ve got a second hive now so might well be putting my name down on the swarm list again next year!!

Alex Rowe

Bromley Bees Summer Events 2009
The club had a tent at nine events over the summer, taking over £5,000 for the club and individual members from honey sales and candle rolling, and making many valuable contacts with the public. Those involved were especially positive about ‘Celebrating Bromley’, a new event for the club, where there was a good atmosphere and much interest in bees and beekeeping. An additional feature this year was the ‘virtual hive’, which proved very useful when explaining details of beekeeping  to members of the public.

Over twenty members were active in helping with these events and a significant number contributed at most of them. Following last year’s pilot, having a different organiser for each event was really successful and gave several additional people the chance to use their skills in this area. Many thanks to Mick, Bob, Stephanie, Cathy, Tony and Jane for organising, and to everyone who worked hard at the events to make them successful. We hope that more people will choose to organise an event next year – there is now a ‘task list’ for guidance!

At the planning meeting for events in the 2010 season it was decided to attend the same events again with the following provisos:
Woodland Farm will be dependent on satisfactory arrangements with the Trustees regarding our position in relation to the other beekeeper who currently keeps bees there.
Keston will be included for this year, in spite of having been disappointing for the last two years, as the club has had a stall there for many years. We will then review  whether to continue for 2011.
‘Celebrate Bromley’ will be included if the venue is convenient –venue has not yet been decided but soon will be.
It was agreed to invite Orpington Members to be involved at High Elms as their apiary is there.

Regarding transport, Peter Macan reminded us that he can tow a trailer on his vehicle, and Clive informed us that his new vehicle will have this facility. This is good as recently we have been dependent on Peter Springall and Barry only, which gives little flexibility. There is also a large refurbished trailer at Dorset Road (Paul’s) which should be available for use next season.

The planning meeting discussed tasks to be done before the new season.

There were offers to do or help with most of them and a list will be circulated as a reminder.

Everyone agreed that it is generally the same members who contribute to all the events and that it would be excellent to see more people involved.  It was decided to use the erection of the marquee at KHLG Open Day in May as a training session for new people who may not have done this before, and to encourage involvement.

Finally, many thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of all the events of 2009.

Mary Slater

Bromley Branch Internet Mailing List
Members can subscribe and receive announcements/events and beekeeping news.

Instructions to subscribe: Start by sending an email to: mailserver @ It doesn't matter what you put in the subject field, leave it blank if you like. The important part is what you type in the message editor (message body) type this only on one line: "subscribe bbk" exclude the inverted commas. Now send the email and while on line wait for further instructions to complete the process.


Tuesday 17th November 2009 @ 7.30pm Bromley Beekeepers AGM. Venue: Kent House Lane allotment clubhouse. Refreshments provided including wine with cheese and biscuits. See our website for more information.

1.Apologies for absence.
2.Minutes of the previous AGM.
3.Matters arising.
5.Apiary Manager’s report.
6.Secretary’s report.
7.Treasurer’s report.
8.Publicity Officer’s report.
9.Outside Events report.
10.Show Secretary’s report.
11.Beginners & Education Group report.
12.Display Committee report.
13.Report of Delegates to Council.
14.Chairman’s remarks.
15.Election of Officers.
16.Election of Delegates to Council.
17.Any other business.
18.Date for next meeting.

Sunday 6th December 2009 @ 11.30am Apiary Meeting: Members open hives (depends on the weather) and talk about beekeeping, just turn up and introduce yourself. Refreshments provided.


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