HBKA Members Honey Press
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Report From The Chair.

 Another roller-coaster year
This year has been a roller-coaster for bees and beekeepers. A mild winter followed by a cold April and wet and cool June which meant that bees were always under pressure. Such mini variations in the weather is not unusual in the North East with the strong influence of the the North Sea. Add this to more uncertainty about forage these days and the old certainties are fast disappearing. The only bright period was the two week period from about the 12 of August for those that took their bees to the heather. Talking to experienced beekeepers who worked hard with their bees it appears that the heather honey crop doubled their harvest for the year. Once more this suggests that those who do venture onto the heather are finding good rewards.
Willie Robson
Those of you who were able to hear Willie Robson's master class at the Rachel Lowther lecture will realize that Willie is considerably exercised by the pressure that bees are experiencing these days. Such pressure is seen in the failure of queens. Twenty years ago queens would last 2 or 3 years without the need to requeen. Nowadays it seems that queen breeders are also unable to explain why so many of their queens are failing.
Willie has invited HBKA to visit Chainbridge in the next two years when we will be able to find out whether putting shallow frames in the middle of a brood chamber to increase drone counts in hives helps to improve the resilience of his queens
Northumberland BKA AGM October the 4th
It was disappointing but not surprising that  only five members from Alnwick and Hexham BKA's attended the AGM. After the formal bit there was discussion about such a poor attendance and whether it matters. It was decided that respective members would report back to their associations about how to proceed. One option to consider was both associations Alnwick and Hexham applying for separate membership of the BBKA. There are smaller associations with such direct membership. Please think about this and bring your views to the AGM in January 2017. See you there and at the talks and socials beforehand.
Philip Chair

Northumberland Beekeepers Assoc. Resolution To BBKA ADM

The BBKA is a large national membership charity. The Charity Commission best practice encourages charities to engage directly with their members on key issues like trustee appointments. Restricting voting to area association delegates is not fulfilling the spirit of the guidelines.

Northumberland BKA requests that the BBKA polls the membership to ascertain their views on moving to OMOV on this issue.

There will clearly be a cost involved but if the BBKA has now created a full membership database which was promised in the last year, it should not be excessive.

It was clear from the results of the membership survey conducted in 2015 that the work of the BBKA and its associated area associations is done by a small group of dedicated officers and this should acknowledged. However the views of the majority of the membership are not sought directly. Modern, effective advocacy charities like the National Trust, for example, use OMOV for the election of their trustees. Their trustees with a wide range of backgrounds represent the views of their membership. By adopting a similar structure the BBKA can increase its effectiveness on the national stage.

Tuesday 1st November - A talk by Ben Hopkinson on Beekeeping in Vietnam.  Tynedale Cricket Club, Eilansgate, Hexham, NE46 3EW. Bar open 7pm, talk starts 7:30 and will last for approximately 1 hour

Monday 14th November - “Beekeeping – An Oral History.”
From 2 – 4pm at St John’s Chapel Town Hall, St John’s Chapel, Co Durham, DL13 1QF
This is the first screening of the short films created from interviews with veteran beekeepers recorded through the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Nectarworks Project and gives a fascinating and at times, hilarious, glimpse into the wonderful world of keeping bees .
There will also be an opportunity to find out more about beekeeping and light refreshments.
Tickets are free and you can book your place online by following this link, or by visiting the events pages of our website .
The films feature George Batey from the Newcastle BKA alongside 9 other beekeepers  from Carlisle,  Penrith and Durham BKA’s.
Taking bees to the heather.  Note the requirement to resist the attention of sheep necessitates the use of straps to hold the hives in place
Dr Dorian Pritchard and Judith Stewart, our membership secretary,  taking home the silver from Blanchland Show. Between them, they swept the board in the honey classes
HBKA Annual Christmas Dinner - a date for your diary.

We are planning to hold this annual event on the evening of Tuesday 13th December at The Barrasford Arms
Keep this date free for what should be an enjoyable evening with excellent food and great company
I will be sending out details of the meal, the menu, and looking to take bookings, shortly, so look out for the email
Jane Hughes, Treasurer


Committee Calling.
Brace yourselves. We need another person or two on the Hexham Beekeepers Association committee, but before you all scatter in the opposite direction, hear me out.
First of all, we are all absolutely drop dead gorgeous, witty and sociable. So why bother with a committee? Speaking personally, I joined for selfish reasons which were:
  1. I was a beginner and wanted to meet other beekeepers who could give me advice and help.
  2. I planned to go to the monthly meetings and thought I might as well stick my oar in about getting interesting speakers etc.
  3. Too old for a paper round, too young for a pension and had a bit of free time.
I thought if it was boring I could easily pack in. It wasn’t and I’m still here.
What we all have in common is a passion for bees and the best practise of beekeeping and a desire to spread word among the Great British Public about how to protect them.
What do we do? It’s quicker to say what we don’t do. We never sit around chuntering for hours. Our quarterly meetings last a couple of hours, including time for cake and drinks. 
We fix a programme of events for the months ahead e.g. speakers, demonstrations and social occasions. Between us, we man the stand at local shows, produce a newsletter, field inquiries, collect membership fees that provide insurance, notify members about important bee-keeping alerts, run the association apiary and beginners’ sessions through the summer and generally make ourselves useful e.g. collecting swarms. 
There are other projects too, but now I’ve written that list, I’m surprised how much we do with the minimum of formal meetings. 
As with all voluntary organisations, a few people do loads and the rest help out when we can. We are very grateful to other association members who do specific jobs like running the website (thank you Ian Robinson) and helping at local shows and at apiary sessions for beginners. 
These profiles should enlighten you about who does what:
Philip Latham, Chair, Riding Mill
A beekeeper for decades who also represents us at BBKA conferences and helps organise the Northern Beekeepers Convention. Always helpful to less experienced beekeepers. Keeps abreast of all the latest research and seems to know beekeepers throughout the land.
Jonathan Storey, Secretary, Ponteland
The Secretary has to ensure that meetings are organised effectively and minuted and I maintain records and administration. I am relatively new to beekeeping (and to the role of Secretary as well) so I am learning all the time and grateful for all the help and support that colleagues on the Committee provide. It’s a great team to be part of.
Jane Hughes, Treasurer, Allendale
I control the pursestrings (well, the other members let me think I do). I collect money for events like the Rachel Lowther lecture and Xmas Dinner, issue cheques  and have them countersigned, reconcile the bank statement and balance the books. At the year end, I rule off the accounts and pack them off to the auditor for his blessing.
Judith Stewart, Membership Sec. Shotley Bridge
I’ve kept bees since 1987 and for years I was the youngest member at every meeting - how things have changed.   I’ve been in charge of membership since 2004, when we had only 40 members.  Now there are about 170. Thankfully, most members have email or a least a contact with email, so chasing up subscription fees and corresponding with everyone is much easier than it used to be.  I enjoy the challenge of keeping bees as each year is different. 
Sue Robinson, Apiary Manager, Wall
I’m possibly the most visible committee member because I organise the Beginners’ Sessions and run the home apiary meets. Beekeeping isn’t so much a hobby in our house as an addiction. I was a new beekeeper when I joined the committee 5 years ago and since then I’ve learned so much and made fantastic friends. I love meeting new people and enlightening them about the joys of bees. 
Paul Mingard, Honey Press Editor & Librarian, Allendale
I am a real novice and this year got my first lot of honey.  Bee-keeping is the way I relax.  I find the hive a place of fascination and wonder. Thankfully, the HBKA roles are not onerous and there aren’t very many meetings, although since I have 2 roles on the committee I must have attended them at least twice! 


Bill Hunter, Swarm Catcher General, Prudhoe.
I’ve kept bees all my life and we’re now on to the 3rd generation of beekeepers in the Hunter family. My spoonful of honey every morning keeps me fit and active. I man the beekeeping stand at shows, help organise events and throughout summer calm householders down by either collecting swarms, or advising them on the best way of dealing with wild bees or wasps.  It’m happy helping out new beekeepers, especially when I’m offered tea and scones." 
Sheilagh Matheson, General Dogsbody, Corbridge. 
I’m allergic to bee stings, have a bad back and go away a lot, so beekeeping is a really stupid hobby but I’m hanging on in there. I do jobs no one else wants to do, like cleaning equipment, extracting apiary honey when we have any, and writing articles like this one. I am also an important role model for what NOT to do in beekeeping.
If you are interested in joining our happy band please contact me ( or 07889.291659) so I can give you a hard sell before our AGM in January.
Copyright © 2016 Hexham Beekeepers Association, All rights reserved.

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