Orpington branch newsletter May 2003 by Frank Chappell.
KENT BEEKEEPERS` ASSOCIATION
Orpington Branch Newsletter May 2003
I feel a bit of a fraud writing this, since I am no longer a beekeeper. All my bees and equipment have gone to a gentleman at Woolwich and all I have left is my bee suit and gloves. It’s very sad and I miss the sight and the sound of the bees. But on the positive side, I won’t miss the hard work of moving brood boxes and supers and having to deal with swarms usually at the most inopportune time.
The removal went without problems until only one hive remained and we were trying to fix a date for this one to go, when the day of my grandson’s third birthday arrived. The party was to take place at our house at lunch time and as you might expect, this was the signal for the bees to swarm. With no equipment, there was little I could do except ring around for someone to collect them. I finally found a Bromley member who turned up within the hour with a small skep and cloth. The bees had collected on a low branch in the garden next door and it was simple to shake them into the skep and invert it on to the cloth on the ground with a pebble under one edge. All the bees seemed to be going in and so we went back to my house for a cup of tea.
It was arranged for him to come back in the evening to collect them but we went back to check that all was well. It wasn’t! The bees must have decided that their new home was too small and they were pouring out. We quickly covered the skep with the cloth, but by then there were loads of bees collecting on another branch higher up. Fortunately, he had a second cloth and I found a cardboard box from which I removed a few honey jars. He wasn’t very keen on going up steps, so I filled in. As the party had already started, I was a bit rougher with the bees than usual, but it all turned out alright and he departed with two half swarms. I suspect that the bees were a bit upset by the time he got home!
We had a reporter and photographer from the “News Shopper” at the Apiary and as a result there was a half-page spread in the paper reporting on our activities and advertising the one-day course which we are running on May 17th. This has produced a number of enquiries and these are being processed. It looks as though we will have a reasonable number of potential beekeepers.
The Apiary opened in fine weather with a good turnout on April 5th but one hive was found to be queenless and has been united with another. Since then, the weather has been less favourable.
Our next activities are the Petts Wood May Fair on May 5th ( this will be the first one without Marjorie Trenear), the disease check on members’ hives on May 10th and the course on May 17th.
I have received entry forms and schedules for the Kent Show, which I hope some of you will be able to enter.
An article in the “Telegraph Weekend” featured a beekeeper who keeps his bees behind a lift shaft on the roof of a block of flats in sight of Tower Bridge and Guy’s Hospital. Last summer he collected 120lb of honey from a single hive, due, he says, to the great diversity of flowering plants and trees in London. But in September he takes the bees to Shropshire for the heather.