Published 5 September, 2009
Bromley Bee News
Published by the Bromley Beekeepers Association
Welcome to the September 2009 issue of Bromley Bee News.
I have missed a lot of apiary meetings this year and I regret not having the time to get that involved in the outside events as much as I would like, we are very lucky to have such a dedicated team giving up their free time organising and running the events.
Harvesting and Varroa Treatment
Getting the honey crop back home is not easy when you have bees on a number of different sites in London and Kent, this takes careful planning. First you must visit the sites and fit clearer boards, returning in 2-4 days hoping that the supers have cleared, the success at clearing the bees varies depending on temperature and efficiency of the clearer board. On each site when supers and excluders have been removed, I put home made eke’s on top of the brood chambers to give the extra room needed for the two trays of Apiguard, these are positioned over the middle of the brood nest.
You open the first tray but leave the second tray unopened until you return in 2 weeks time and open the second tray. For more details how this treatment works visit the Vita website.
I had over 30 supers to extract and it’s taken me a number of weekends to complete. The 20 frame extractor I bought last year proved to be a major asset. The heater element in the base of the extractor helped in dealing with 2 supers of crystallised rape honey from the Dartford hive.
At my home apiary I keep just the two hives, these are sited on a paved area in front of my honey house. Over the years I have observed a lot of bees just crawling around not able to fly, I assumed this was normal aging/dying bees, this year at the height of the summer, there seemed a lot more bees than normal crawling around, when I examined the bees I could see the wings shrivelled and deformed which is a classic sign of varroa damage and should not be ignored. This was the main reason why I treated early this year.
The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) have written an advice sheet on the safe ways to control wax moth. To find this document visit the members’ area of the BBKA website.
The BBKA, an organisation of which we are all affiliated, has done sterling work this year helping to publicise the plight of the honeybee. This has caused a massive upsurge in membership of beekeeping organisations and demand for beekeeping courses, live bees and equipment. I think this is very good news as beekeepers have finally become recognised as stewards of the environment and providers of a free pollination services to the nation’s gardens.
This year I have taken under my wing three new Bromley members, this involves visiting their apiaries regularly and going through their hives with them; all have made good progress building up their new colonies for winter, and one has produced a good honey surplus (no excuses for not entering the honey show). Keeping bees does have its ups and downs, even if you have disasters with your bees or they fail to survive the winter you can still learn from the experience and start again in the spring.
The Bromley branch AGM is on Tuesday 17th November stating at 7.30pm, members can have their say about how the branch is run and hear reports from officers. Refreshments will be provided including wine with cheese and biscuits.
The Bromley newsletter will be restricted to electronic format as printing and postage is prohibitively expensive when most members can get on the Internet and download the newsletter and print a copy if needed. Articles and snippets for the newsletters should be sent to the editor for consideration before the last day of the month, publication dates are loosely every 2 months, Sept, Nov, Jan, Mar, May, July publishing at the beginning of the month. I hope that we can have guest editors producing the newsletter and giving the publication a personal slant on their own beekeeping.
My First Year
In my first year of beekeeping I have with some amazement and a great deal of happiness experienced extraordinary beginner’s luck. Beekeeping issues are extensively covered in the media so I approached beekeeping with some trepidation. With a leap first and look later approach I decided to take up beekeeping with a lot of enthusiasm but no practical knowledge. Of course I knew there were Problems With Bees but only after making the commitment to see how I would actually get on looking after a colony did I realise there were Very Big Problems with Bees.
I have been fortunate to have the excellent mentorship and friendship of Steve Turner and a thriving, good natured colony. They have stoically endured my tendency to over-puff the smoker until our eyes sting and patiently allowed me to learn the correct speed and angle to lift a frame. One evening I bravely decided to attempt an inspection on my own. Smoker and hive tool to the ready I did my best but it was a disaster. There were bees everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I decided to close up before I did any damage and the colony settled down again within a few minutes.
It seems their only intolerance of my interference was my beloved washing line. I only realised when seeing bees fly directly into it how annoying it must be to head butt a duvet cover at great speed. Such was the good nature of my colony that I became aware I was causing a problem and was able to rectify it without incident. They have thrived in our excellent weather this spring and summer and it would appear I have rather a lot of honey.
A work colleague who has no appreciation or interest in bees has accused me of being "weird" to keep them and, to her mind, treating them as "pets". I suspect the public’s perception of beekeepers as eccentric is something veteran beekeepers grow to accept. However I fear my colleague may be partially correct in that I am probably over-fond of my thriving first colony.
I suspect a true test of how I fare as a beekeeper will not be in the success I have so far experienced but how I cope with the approaching winter months, a change of queen, a new colony and the ever looming possibility of disease and disaster. I am unashamedly quite proud of my bees. It's been a wonderful start and it may never be this good again! Thank you bees…
Bromley and Orpington Honey Show Saturday 19th September 2009
Celebrate the end of the beekeeping season by showing your honey at the annual Bromley and Orpington Honey Show. Beekeepers from London and Kent compete for prizes with their honey, bee hive products, cake baking and confectionary. Venue: Emmanuel Church, The Grove, West Wickham, BR4 9JS. Staging: 9.00 – 9.30am. Open to the Public: 10.00am – 4.30pm. You can download and print a copy of the show schedule and entry-form from the Bromley Beekeepers’ website.
Try open class 6: Two 454g (1lb) jars of Liquid Honey, any colour and you may win a Thorne Honey Refractometer.
Stewards are urgently needed for the honey show. Please contact the Show Secretary Peter Bashford Tel: 020 8656 7990.
The 24th August is St Bartholomew’s Day and Bartholomew Fair was one of London’s oldest, started under charter from Henry I in 1133 to fund the Priory of St Bartholomew. It continued until 1855 when it was suppressed by the City authorities for encouraging debauchery and public disorder.
What has all this got to do with beekeeping I hear you ask? This is the day when traditionally beekeepers harvested their honey crop. Habits and customs have changed over time but the end of August is a good time to start taking off supers, extracting honey and, of course, preparing for our show on the 19th September.
Something else that needs attention after taking off supers is, of course, varroa control, not to mention making sure colonies have enough stores to get them through the winter. Working on the basis that if they are flying they are eating and therefore will almost certainly need feeding, don’t forget to keep an eye on feeders.
Sunday 6th September @ 11.30am Bromley Branch Apiary Meeting and Allotment Open Day. See our website for more information.
Saturday 19th September 2009 Bromley and Orpington Honey Show @ Emmanuel Church, The Grove, West Wickham, BR4 9JS. Staging: 9.00 – 9.30am. Open to the Public: 10.00am – 4.30pm. Download the schedule and entry form from our website.
Sunday 4th October @ 11.30am Bromley Branch Apiary Meeting. See our website for more information.
29th – 31st October 2009 National Honey Show with international classes and beekeeper’s lecture convention @ St George’s College, Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2QS. Download the schedule and programme from the NHS website.
Tuesday 17th November 2009 @ 7.30pm Bromley Beekeepers AGM. Venue: Kent House Lane allotment clubhouse.