Orpington branch newsletter May 2002 by Frank Chappell.
KENT BEEKEEPERS` ASSOCIATION
Orpington Branch Newsletter May 2002
I forgot to ask you last month to let me know your email address (if you have one and are prepared to disclose it.) At the moment I have no use for it, but there may be a time in the future when there is a need to contact you without waiting for the next newsletter; a message sent by email is easier than a lot of 'phone calls. My rather cumbersome address is fachap @ pell97.freeserve.co.uk but don't expect me to respond quickly to any messages, since I don't use the computer very often.
The Apiary is operational again and I think all the hives made it through the winter and the wire netting round the hives successfully warded off the attention of the woodpeckers. Last year we purchased two Australian queens and although one has done very well, the other has been disappointing so far. The weather has been so good up until now that the bees have been bringing in lots of nectar and pollen and if this continues we should have a good crop. Some of the frames unfortunately contain crystallised ivy honey from last year which the bees don't seem to use and I'm told it doesn't taste very nice.
The good weather also caught me out. I had been putting off looking at the bees as I was trying to finish the last of three bookcases which I was making. On April 2nd, one hive swarmed, fortunately on to a tree next door. I moved my equipment under the tree and this was a signal for them to take off towards the next street. I followed, but couldn't see them. As I walked back, there was a buzzing noise and they all came back to the original spot. I hastened to get the steps but by the time I was back at the tree, they had gone again and this time they could have gone anywhere. So I packed up, but as I returned for the steps, a lady told me that the bees were on the roof of her daughter's house in the next street. Although I don't go up ladders, I agreed to have a look and finished up clinging to a ladder with my box jammed between my chest and the ladder and trying to brush the bees into it. Fortunately, by the evening, almost all the ones I couldn't reach had come down into the box and by luck the queen was in as well. Two weeks later, the other hive swarmed, but that one was not such a problem. I don't remember having swarms so early in the season before.
On May 18th, we will be having a demonstration at Jim Grierson's house and he is planning to let us have a go at queen rearing by grafting. He has asked me to remind everyone that to finish up with a queen, they will need a nucleus hive.
On May 6th we will be having a stand as usual at the Petts Wood May Fair and we will need produce to sell. Please bring along any honey, candles cakes etc. If the shortage of honey in the shops is continuing we could have a good day. Some of our usual helpers are not available this year, so if you think you can help for an hour or two, please let me know.
Peter Burden has passed to me a copy of the "Daily Mail" for August 4th, 1900 issued at the occasion of the Queen Mother's death. In it is the following paragraph: "John Butter, a wood dealer, sued the village postmaster. Mr. Longley, for the recovery of part of the value of an old mare which the defendant's bees stung to death, also 10s. on account of pain from bee stings suffered by the plaintiff, 10s. for loss of use of a part of a field adjoining the plaintiff's garden, where the plaintiff's labourers could not work owing to the bees, and 20s. for extra labour through having to make a hayrick in another position" The judge in giving judgement for the amount claimed said that a beekeeper kept bees at his own risk, and if they did damage he was liable. I don't suppose he had any insurance in those days.