HBKA Members Honey Press
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Report From The Chair.

How's your beekeeping year been so far?  Whether you are a beginner or an old hand you will have noticed that when the calendar says 'Summer' you will get any kind of weather from snow to heat wave. They are more unusual I must admit. We have had snow in June in past years but that has been short lived. The worst is days of dreary cloud, drizzle and low temperatures. If queens have started to lay and the nest is expanding, a dodgy week can be enough to push the nest over the edge. Somehow such weather can catch anyone off guard. And then within different parts of the region, days when bees can fly vary so much. I have seen maps of flora which is one of the key ingredients for successful beekeeping but what about maps showing not just mean temperatures but on how many days bees have been able to fly productively. To put it briefly, the more observation you can undertake, the more satisfying your bee keeping can be

I would like to invite you to a Northumberland Bee keepers Social Event being held at 7 pm on Thursday September the 8th at  the Ridley Arms Stannington NE61 6EL. Just off the A1 5 miles South of Morpeth. This will follow a very short AGM

If you are a new member you may not be aware that you are both a Hexham Beekeeper and a Northumberland Beekeeper. Hexham and Alnwick are branches of Northumberland. You can only be represented by Northumberland at BBKA events such as the Annual Delegates Meeting. This currently is the only way Northumberland beekeepers can submit what are  called propositions to be debated at the ADM. We have hired a private room which should be a relaxed venue for getting to know some other Northumberland beekeepers. Do come along for a good crack. Car sharing might allow some of us  to try their range of ales and wines. No booking required - just turn up.

At last year's Blanchland Show we found our current gazebo (without sides and not waterproof) totally inadequate in the rain. Consequently, we are investing in a waterproof one with let-down sides which should protect everything in the gazebo and allow us to keep dry. So in future years we can guarantee that volunteers, who help at some shows where we use a gazebo, will keep dry. The colour is blue. Come along to the Blanchland Show on the 29th of August and  Ladycross nature reserve Open Day  on 10th September.



Membership has increased to its highest ever level of 176.  Beekeeping has expanded greatly in this region in the past few years and we encourage new beekeepers to attend our beginners sessions and to join the association.  If you know of anyone who is considering taking up beekeeping please let them know about the benefits of membership.

This edition of Honey Press includes items of interest to beekeepers of all levels of experience.  Look at some of the offers to members nearer the bottom of the page.
Dates For Your Diary 

Some finish times are approximate and require further clarification.  Please note the details of the Rachel Lowther Lecture.

Date Start Finish Event Venue
13/08/2016 9:30am 5:00pm Slaley Show Slaley NE47 0AD
14/08/2016 2:00pm 4:00pm Beginners Session #8 Wylam Apiary
21/08/2016 2:00pm 4:00pm Beginners Session #9 Wylam Apiary
27/08/2016 9:00am 5:00pm Bellingham Show Bellingham Show Field, The Croft, Bellingham NE48 2JY
29/08/2016 9:00am 5:00pm Blanchland and Hunstanworth Show Blanchland DH8 9SR
29/08/2016 12:00pm 4:00pm Elsdon Village Fete Elsdon NE19 1AA
03/09/2016 12:00pm 4:00pm Corbridge Village Show Corbridge Parish Hall,St Helen's Street, Corbridge NE45 5BE
10/09/2016 11:00am 4:00pm Ladycross Open Day Ladycross Quarry Slaley, Hexham NE47 0BY
11/09/2016 2:00pm 4:00pm Apiary Meet Wylam Apiary
27/09/2016 7:00pm 9:00pm Committee Meeting  
02/10/2016 3:00pm 6:00pm Rachel Lowther Lecture Bees & Beekeeping In The Borders - Willie Robson
Fee £10.00 includes afternoon tea  Email Jonathan Storey to book your place
Wall Village Hall, Wall, Hexham NE46 4DU
01/11/2016 7:30pm 9:00pm Open Meeting Hexham CC
06/12/2016 7:30pm 10:00pm Christmas Dinner Venue tbc
07/12/2016 7:30pm 10:00pm DBKA Quiz Night Durham City tbc
The Hive - Kew Gardens

I’m standing under a complicated mesh of metal poles shimmering against a bright blue sky, with crowds of people around me. Up above, I can see the outline of children peering down at us as they crouch on a glass platform . Nearby, an elderly woman in deep concentration is bent double, a wooden spatula between her teeth touching a metal pillar.

This is The HIve, an installation at Kew Gardens which has attracted international publicity and accolades. The highly engineered structure aims to give insight into the life of a honeybee within the hive and highlight the importance of pollinators to our food supply.

Surrounded by a meadow of wild flowers, with the scent of flowers in the air, it is eye-catching and startling even though I had already seen photographs and thought I knew what to expect.

The Hive was created by an artist, Wolfgang Buttress, who was inspired by the work of Dr Martin Bencsik of Nottingham Trent University. Dr Bencsik has done pioneering research into bee vibrations and their communication patterns by attaching minuscule devices called accelerometers on to bees’ backs.

The Hive is linked to a real honeybee colony at Kew and monitors sounds and vibrations made by the bees. The old lady with the spatula was actually feeling the vibrations of their movements . “It made me feel as if my brain was quivering,” she said. “It was quite nice and calming in a funny sort of way.”

Embedded in the multi sensory installation are thousands of tiny lights which are switched on and off by the activities of the bees and musical sounds which vary according to their humming.

Judging by the number of visitors to The Hive when I was there, it is highly successful in winning attention and raising awareness of the value of bees. Young and old people took their time walking around, paying attention to talks from Alan Hart, Pollination Secretary of the Bee Farmers Association, and asking relevant questions.

The Hive is the extraordinary centrepiece of a major project Kew is carrying out with scientists and horticulturalists  who are studying the decline of bee populations and the relationship between plants and their pollinators. There is also a pollination trail round the gardens.

I felt it was well worth the visit and was impressed by the setting and structure. But if you are thinking of going, the right time would be at dusk when the gardens are quiet. I was there on a sunny weekend when it was so busy I couldn’t really hear the sound and the lighting effect was lost in sunshine. At least I have a good excuse for a second visit.

Sheilagh Matheson
The Hive
Children Looking Through The Hive
The Hive From Below
Alan Hart BFA The Hive
Aggressive bees – a solution?
How many beekeepers does it take to find a queen?

Last August the Bee Inspector came to call.

Of my four hives, I had one colony that was really quite unpleasant but he was not to be deterred. Doing what Bee Inspectors do best, he went through the frames shaking the bees as he went. The result? A hive of very aggressive bees and a cloud of followers that surrounded us both. It took a good twenty minutes to clear them from around our veils, and – to make matters worse - two had flown off to attack my husband who was minding his business some 200 yards away.  The verdict – the bees had to be re-queened. So that was the plan for the following Spring.

Come 2016, I needed to find her. Dead easy. She was a blue-marked queen, so how difficult could it be?

The hive had overwintered on a brood and a half. Together with a bee-buddy (and an expert queen spotter) I went through both boxes three times. Outcome? - queen nowhere to be seen but two deflated beekeepers and a crowd of angry followers around our heads pinging for Britain. Oh and our gauntlets full of dozens of stings – thank goodness for double gloving! We withdrew, defeated.

Next step – Divide and rule. So a day or two later, I took the super off and placed it on another stand. Waited a week and in the super there were queen cells starting to develop. So she was not in the super. Back to the brood box. Bees still as aggressive – pinging at my veil and stinging my gauntlets. Still no sign. Clearly too many bees to handle here so I crammed half the brood frames into a nuc leaving the other half in the original box, moved the nuc to one side and waited a week. With no fresh brood in the nuc, she was still in the brood box.

At this point drastic action was called for, so, with the help of two more bee buddies, we moved the brood box away from the apiary to the far corner of the field (and away from husband who was not impressed with this beekeeping lark), put an empty hive with frames in its place (along with the honey super-yes they are putting up honey at least!) The aim? - to get all the aggressive flyers to return to the apiary and leave me alone to find that queen.

The next day, I was confident I knew where she was, so, double-gloved and ready for a fight, I went into the moved hive. There were still lots of angry bees who made their presence felt but I tried to ignore them and went through the brood box 3 times, methodically looking for queen – thinking always “queen” and looking around the edges of frame first – all good textbook stuff. Still no Queen.

At the point of despair, I closed them up again but then thought I can’t be beaten (can I?) so I gave it one more go and there she was – bright blue dot and all!

Now this was the time when I needed my bee buddy! I was holding the frame with two hands, eyes fixed on the queen, but my q clip was in my pocket. So I rested the frame in the upturned roof on the grass.

Yes you guessed it! She flew off the frame onto the grass and disappeared out of sight. Now it was a race between my finding her and her making her way back to the hive entrance and in. I searched & searched but then bees began to gather round her. I spotted her, dropped her, missed her twice while she made her way to the hive entrance. Then just when she had reached the hive entrance and I feared she would hop in to the hive, I got hold of her.

So, how many beekeepers does it take to find a queen…?

Jane Hughes

Wedding Cake For Sue and Ian Robinson
The junior beekeepers who made the fabulous decorations for our wedding cake are Jura Lennon, Rebecca Green, James and Evie Agar and Robyn and James Franklin (James’ roll was more administrative than practical, he counted all 367 tiny flowers).
We struggled to find someone to decorate our wedding cake with a beekeeping theme.  Sue Green suggested Rebecca might have a go.  Kym Franklin offered Robyn’s help to make tiny flowers.  Frances Lennon and Kate Agar also joined in and their children were keen to make things too.  Eventually it was decided who would make what and an eclectic mix it was. All the figures made by my young beekeepers made it onto the cake.  It was a very special part of our wedding and much admired.  We loved having something so personal and unique.  Thank you all. 
Sue and Ian
A letter from Jane Moseley ex BBKA that she requested be circulated.

Throughout my tenure of office we have faced many challenges both internally and externally, some great and some merely frustrating. However, I believe that together we have overcome many of the hurdles that lay before us but I am very much aware that many more lie ahead.

It is with heavy heart that I left the BBKA but throughout ones life new challenges await and I hope to meet those head on. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with you trying to develop an organisation to be proud of, to deliver our objectives and trying to modernise whilst also improving on the membership benefits.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in my role - whether that be volunteer support for the partnerships developed, administrative support in the ever growing membership of the organisation - a steady increase of over 8000 members since I joined.  Obviously I couldn’t have undertaken my role without you or the brilliant administration team behind me - so thank you.

Since my departure I have been able to enjoy more beekeeping and realised my future work plans, but have also had wishes of good luck and prosperity from many with whom I have worked over the years, for which I thank them.

I take this opportunity to wish you and every member of your association all the best of everything for the future and successful & enjoyable beekeeping.

With best wishes


Industrial Classes for Slaley Show. 
All members are welcome and indeed encouraged to enter their apiary products under the 'Honey Classes' in the document downloadable below.  Your HBKA Chair is the judge, but will not let this sway his decision.  Just letting you know.
Slaley Show Industrial Classes
Ambrosia Syrup and Ambrosia Fondant

The Association has ordered some Ambrosia syrup and fondant in bulk. Delivery is expected towards the end of August.

We are getting 12.5kg Jerry cans of syrup and boxes of 5 x 2.5kg slabs of fondant. While the final price will only be fixed once the order has been confirmed (partly as it is being brought in from Germany), we anticipate a can will be about £13 and the fondant £13.50.

The Ambrosia products are made from top quality sugar beet which is inverted by 3 natural enzymes. It is specifically developed for bees. It is not the cheapest bee food but by buying it in bulk, we can benefit from reduced costs.

We will let you know once a delivery date has been fixed. In the meantime if anyone wants more information or wishes to place a provisional order, they should contact Jane Hughes on or 01434 618446.
Offers For Members

A hive stand that is large enough to take 4-5 hives is available to members  £20.00  Contact Judith Stewart

Colonies from the HBKA Apiary will be made available for sale to members shortly.  Prices to be arranged depending on the colony size and condition.  Please contact Sue Ewing/Robinson for more information.

Bee hive spaces at Slaley Hall may become vacant for members unable to find a place to put a hive of bees.  Contact Bill Hunter to put your name forward for inclusion.
Copyright © 2016 Hexham Beekeepers Association, All rights reserved.

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