Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells Branch

June to do list.

Beware of food shortage after taking honey

Monitor and treat for Varroa (non-chemical with supers on)

Full disease inspection

Weekly inspections – Look closely for queen cells

Practice marking (and clipping) drones

Ensure sufficient supers for main flow

Extract full supers

Continue swarm control

Mate new queens

Collect swarms (if you know how to) See Article under ‘Swarms’.


Developmental Period of Egg to:

Queen  16 days,
Worker 21 days

Drone   24 days

Queen Fertility 23+ days

Drone Fertility 38+ days

Click here for more details.

A Worker Bee 

In summer lives only 6 to 8 weeks from the time she hatches as an adult bee

In late autumn the queen lays eggs that develop into workers that live for 4/6 months to survive the winter.

Typical Colony:

50/70,000 bees in mid summer

There will be 1 queen,250 drones, 20,000 female foragers,

30,000 female house-bees,

5,000 to 7,000 eggs, 7,000-11,000 larvae being fed,

16,000 to 24,000 larvae developing into adults in sealed cells.

Number of UK Beekeepers.

In the UK there are approximately 44,000 beekeepers looking after around 240,000 hives. They produce 6,000 tons of honey per year. Each hive is worth about £400 to the agricultural economy. We produce only 20% of the honey we consume - the rest is imported.


All tips for Home

Welcome to the Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells Beekeeper's Web Site

In compiling this Web Site we have tried to provide basic information, which we would have liked to have had available at our finger tips when we started beekeeping. However it is only basic practical information and for more complete detail we suggest you read some of the more recent additions to our library by clicking here. There are also many bee related topics on the web and we have highlighted some of the better ones in 'Web Watch' under NOTICE BOARD.


WBC Hive-2
Sarah Rapley's WBC Hives

This is a 'picture postcard' hive but is it the most popular? See how our members critically rated the various types of hive they operate in this 'pros and cons' pdf document, by clicking 'here'. And then look at Setting up an Apiary.


marked queen
Marked Queen by John Farrow

Finding and Marking the Queen. if you are a beginner, finding the queen can prove to be quite difficult and is rarely as easily found as the one in this picture, so click here for a few tips.


MembershipThere has been a small increase in Branch membership with the numbers increasing to 89 Registered + 1 Junior and 12 Friends & 27 Partners. Our membership is roughly in a 5/10 mile radius of Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells. A number of our members have been keeping bees for many years, some over 50 years!


If you have an interest in bees watch this stunning slow motion 6 minute video to see what has maintained their passion for so many years.Click on this link: Dance of the Honey Bee to perhaps spark your enthusiasm. Also have a look at this remarkable video: Mating Flight  

Bee on Flower-2
Honeybee extracting nectar.

In this video taken from 'More Than Honey', you can watch a mating flight as though you were a drone flying alongside the queen. This fascinating video offers an incredible 'Bird's Eye View.'  


Frequently Asked Questions: If keeping bees inspires you, you may have a series of questions about bees. Click on FAQ's  to see if any of these answers them.

 Frequently Asked Questions


Apiary Meetings: Finally, before you make any outlay on equipment, attend one of our Apiary Meetings by contacting the Apiary Manager nearest to you to see whether you are comfortable handling bees. Details are below.

Barr Wood 2
Barr Wood Apiary Courtesy Sarah Rapley

Barr Wood Apiary TN11 is on the Hildenborough Road between Shipbourne and Hildenborough. For details of meeting dates click on 2018 Programme.  For directions on how to get to the site, or if the weather is looking unsuitable for beekeeping, contact the person hosting the meeting, before venturing out. Click here for the list of contacts.

Hilbert Road Apiary
Hilbert Road Apiary 

Hilbert Rd Apiary TN2 3SA in Tunbridge Wells is managed collectively. Check the 2018 Programme for details of who is running the meeting and contact them for details and directions on how to get to the site. 

Branch Programme 2018
 Branch Programme 2018

Meetings start in March at 2.00 p.m.on Saturdays. If the weather in the morning looks unsuitable for beekeeping ring the respective host to check first, before venturing out.

Watch this recent short video [9.25 mins.] to see hive inspections in 2009 at Barrwood Apiary, by clicking on:'Barr Wood 2009'

To see some of our meetings in 2012, watch this video:'Barr Wood 2012[30 mins]. Or for details of our recent April 2016 meeting click here.


To Join: Simply click on 'Membership' and you will have made your first step to becoming a beekeeper! The second step is to fill in the membership form and return it to our Membership Secretary John Hendrie, at 26, Coldharbour Lane Hildenborough, Tonbridge, Kent TN11 9JT.

Benefits of joining our Branch: As well as a full calendar of meetings during the year, you meet other like minded people who have a combined wealth of many, many years experience who are only too willing to help. Discuss your successes and failures with them and they will certainly have had many failures over the years, and their wealth of knowledge may turn those failures into successes for the future. Always remember though, bees are like any livestock, they do not read the same text books as we do! Experienced beekeepers will tell you that you can have many colonies and non of them will behave exactly the same, depending primarily on the queens' vigour and maturity.



Library: This is looked after by Sarah Rapley and if you wish to borrow any of the 70 books contact Sarah on 07 970 484 232 or email or she may bring them along to our winter meetings.The recent additions to our Library of Books are detailed here.


Beekeeping Equipment: One of the benefits of membership is that all Thornes equipment can be bought, at a discount, through our Chairman John Hendrie. He may be contacted by email:

To look through their 2017 Catalogue click on Thornes.

Other suppliers are available; below is a list of some of the local ones. Simply click on their name to go to their web site. 

Blue Bell Hill Apiaries,Gillingham ME7 3NL;                 Bee-Equipment, Bridge CT4 5HW                           Paynes Southdown Bee Farms Ltd, BN6 9NP;             Park Beekeeping, London SE10 8BA                               Morris Beekeeping, Yalding, ME18 6EP.                       

Honey Jar Supplier: Freeman & Harding, DA8 2AJ.  Honey Labels.

Bee Suites: BB Wear Cornwall TR4 9AD.

For a more comprehensive list of national suppliers click here

BB Wear 20% Offer for 2018 (275 KB)
 Click on the above pdf for details

Extractor Hire: We bought a new extractor in 2014, which is available for hire at £10.00. to members.If you wish to hire it, please contact Ellen Montelius. Her contact details are given on our CONTACTS page. Also membership includes insurance and the option of subscription to the monthly magazine BeeCraft.You can also avail yourself of a Third Party Insurance cover for possible legal problems and cover for colony losses.

Web Site Editors: Sarah Rapley & John Farrow.


Average hits on our Web Site Since Nov.2014 has been 580/month.