Your Honey Press Newsletter for Summer 2015
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View from the chair
Hard to believe that we are past the longest day. The cold northerly winds lasted for much of spring which kept the bees in the hive for a good part of each day. There's nothing worse than looking at a field of oilseed rape where your bees are just a few metres away, the sun is shining but the temperature refuses to creep to above 12 degrees centigrade. This is where location is so important because if you can offer your bees a protected corridor perhaps behind a wall they may be able to fly when wind and temperature are against them.
Our visit to Chainbridge
About 50 Hexham beekeepers made the journey North to visit Willie and Heather Robson at Chainbridge Honey Farm  just outside Berwick on Sunday May the 10th. Before lunch Willie gave a fascinating insight into his experience as a beekeeper, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. For Willie, the bees seek immortality compared with the short life of the human who attempts to understand them. For Willie the local black bees which he usually manages without protection, cope with cold Springs by getting their heads down and waiting for better days. After the talk we had an excellent buffet lunch provided by Heather and then some of us walked down to the chainbridge which crosses the Tweed at that point. Willie's bees roam freely unaware of the border between England and Scotland. All members seemed to agree that it was a really memorable day out.
This season
The first Beginners meeting of 2015 at the Wylam Apiary took place on April 17th and  was a great success. There's a great demand for places and we do hope that we will be able to meet the demand over the next three months. The flagged area in front of the shed is a great improvement and thanks for all those who have been involved in the improvements. The Association only works through volunteering and even if you have just got involved and are waiting for your bees there are many ways to give something back. For example we are always looking for helpers at  the shows with the Association stall
Your Chair attended an unusual Annual Delegates Meeting at Stoneleigh on June the 20th. This is only six moths after the last ADM in January. The BBKA is starting to change how it manages its budget cycle giving delegates the chance to scrutinise the budget before its implemented. This is just  the start of a modernisation process that will hopefully strengthen the BBKA in its role as the advocate for all aspects of

BBKA Special Meeting
Bee Watch
You've Been Framed
Subscription Offer
Asian Hornet Talks
First Catch Your Swarm
Cherryburn Date
Summer Fairs
Colin Weightman: A Personal Reflection
Buy, Buy

Our Thoughts

This is your newsletter.  We mean it is your newsletter.  It is for you to make it into what you want.  We can only put it together with your contributions and your interest.  We are thinking about the kinds of articles you might like to see, but they don't write themselves.  We think it might be good to show some of your photographs, and maybe even run a competition.  But you need to send them to us, please.  We thought about a question and answer section, where you can ask the experts whatever you like.  We mean bee related issues, but hey, if you have other questions we could give it a go; bee keepers are people too.  Tell us news that others might want to hear about, from things that have not gone according to plan with your bees (see below) to something you saw about apiaries in another country.  So get out your pen/tablet camera/smartphone and send us anything you have to share.

Brief report  for Northumberland BKA of BBKA Special Delegates Meeting  at Stoneleigh Saturday June the 20th 2015

The meeting was attended by some 55 local association delegates including reps from Cleveland and Durham. The first  55 minutes were taken up with giving a Trustee  permission to record the proceedings for his own use only,  followed by a debate about proxy voting. This took almost an hour. Perhaps not a good start.

Proposition 1 debated first,  concerned the recommendation by the Executive Committee that the ADM should  moved from January perhaps to June so that there would be time discuss the budget before it starts in the October. This  followed  consultation with a working party with association reps not well supported by  enough associations.. Much discussion followed not all strictly relevant. Many of the questions suggested that there is need for delegates to undertake  governance training. With the present structure it appears to be very difficult to implement change.
Jane Moseley, BBKA Operations Manager,  referred to the intention, delayed this year, to produce an annual report which should help associations see at a glance whether strategic targets are being met and funding is being spent to achieve the targets set by the executive following consultation with  associations.

Suggestions from Cumbria and other associations  that the financial year should be changed rather the date of the ADM  gained considerable support despite warnings that the Constitution would need to be altered. Working with 69 organisations, the affiliated  associations, was a complex process. Everyone may have now accepted that some  change was coming.
The vote for Proposition 1 was 16 in favour; 36 against and 3 abstentions. I voted in favour. Chair Doug Brown said that the working party would continue its work but needed more members to get involved.  39% for; 57% against; 4% abstained.

As the proposition was defeated it was not possible to approve the budget. However there were presentations from Chris Lake treasurer and Andrew Royce who chairs the finance committee. Headline points: Income in 2009 was £400,000. Today it is £900,000. Chris Lake told us that after a year he is beginning to get to grips with the BBKA  budget. This includes having monthly reconciliations as any business would do and proper papertrails for all procurement. Chris is a Northerner and tells it as it is.

Jane Moseley warned delegates that if they want a quality organisation to represent bees and beekeepers you can’t get it on the cheap. Similar organisations  will charge £30 for the same quality of service. It might be useful to do your own research on this one and feedback your views via your officers.

I thanked Doug Brown, chair, and David Aston, president, for chairing the meeting with patience and courtesy. It was not easy at times.

Philip Latham Chair Hexham and Northumberland BKA

Bee Watch

HBKA has been asked to contribute to a very interesting project in association with the Broomley Bee Project.  The intention is to put a webcam into one of the beehives at Cherryburn and to be able to stream the pictures to Broomley School and also into one of the rooms at Cherryburn so that members of the public visiting Cherryburn can see what goes on inside a beehive.  The project implementation will be provided by a specialist firm who will supply all the equipment and necessary links.  The National Trust are very keen that this project go ahead and will provide the majority of the funding.  Newcastle University will provide a computer monitor to Broomley School that can be put up in the dining hall so pupils and visitors can see what is happening.  We understand the system would accommodate up to 4 different outlets and so could be expanded beyond just Cherryburn and Broomley School.

Has any member attempted anything similar for themselves?  A lot of people have made camera systems for bird boxes, but we'd like to know what you think.  Are there any problems, such as the bees coating the lens with propolis, or the lack of space and light inside a hive?

You've Been Framed

HBKA Frame Making Wall Village Hall
Sue demonstrating
All ages participated.  From the novice to the expert.  The apiary will be well stocked with frames this year.
Perhaps a little young yet, but his technique was spot on.  Thanks to Sue and all those who attended.

Bee Keepers Quarterly

HBKA has acquired a subscription to the Bee Keepers Quarterly for the library.  Members can see these as well as many back issues by asking Paul Mingard to bring them to future events or by contacting Paul and making other arrangements.  The Association has also obtained a discount for members to copies of BKQ for themselves.  These are at the cost of £20 per year for the print copy and £10 for the digital edition.  Anyone who wishes to obtain a subscription should contact the HBKA membership secretary Judith Stewart and let her know which is your preference.  Back copies of BKQ can be seen here

Rachel Lowther Lecture

This years lecture will be given by Professor Stephen Martin on the subject of the Asian Hornet.  The date is the 1st November at Wall Village Hall.  Professor Martin is Chair of Social Entomology at Salford University.  Start time 4.00pm with refreshments, followed by the lecture. All welcome.

A Swarm In June......

There was a crisis with the website I was building.  The phone call with my collaborator was not going well.  Even worse was hearing my wife shouting from upstairs, "Your bees are swarming!".  I rushed outside, phone clamped to my ear and suddenly the discontents of a beehive was whirling around inches from my head.  I headed up to the top of the garden and climbed into my bee suit in the shed, still sorting out the web issue and then to the hive, where there was a lot of activity around the entrance.  I opened it up and was surprised to find a full complement of bees there, oblivious of my anxiety.  I had looked a few days earlier and there had been no sign of any problem.  In fact I added a super and some new frames and wax strip.  Not my bees then, phew.

Down the garden to the beech hedge, where I caught sight of the swarm, now wrapping itself around one of the trunks.  It was spreading itself vertically from top to soil; about a metre and a half of bees.  Having been at one of the beginners sessions last year when one of the apiary hives swarmed, I knew a bit about what to do, but since this was my first swarm, I called Philip Latham for help.  He reassured me that there was nothing to worry about, just grab a box and a soft brush and gently ease them off the hedge and into the box.  I waited until the swarm was settled and taking the IKEA packing crate that was the only box to hand, I began to persude the bees to drop off the trunk.  The swarm remained fairly calm, despite my clumsy efforts and began to fall in large clumps into the bottom of the box.
The swarm wrapped around one trunk of the hedge.
Half of the bees inside the box
Up they go into my box.  For now.
Unfortunately, since the bees were top to bottom of the hedge and the box was quite big, I found it impossible to get them all to fall into it.  Some of them fell onto the soil or down the side of the box and began to climb back up the hedge.  I got half of them in the box and even tipping it at an angle, was finding it difficult to get more inside.
What I had seen at the Apiary was that bees will walk up a slope into a hive.  So, I reasoned, they might be encouraged to walk up into a box.  I laid a large piece of wood sloping up from the base of the hedge to the rim of the box and waited.  Within minutes there was a solid tongue of bees edging up the plank.  It occured to me that I had nowhere to put all these bees, once they were collected. 

That gave me chance to try and arrange more permanent accommodation for them.  I had an old Langstroth hive but the only wax to hand was 'National' brood frame sized.  Since National frames won't fit a Langstroth, I decided to convert the hive to fit what I had.  I left the hill-climbing bees to it and got to work.  Cutting some wood to size and using it to make a partition across one side of the brood box, I hoped to fit a national brood frame inside. Then it was simply a matter of making up a few frames and wax.  I worked as quickly as possible, (thanks to the HBKA frame making session) fitted them in my new hive, grabbed a National size crown board and the Langstroth roof and headed back up the garden.  Just in time to see the entire swarm lift off from the inside of the box and form a very noisy and chaotic typhoon shaped cloud above the hedge.

"Come back", I called, rather futilely, holding up their planned home for them to see what they were rejecting.  They ignored me, flying off towards the front of the garden.  I gave chase, throwing open the gate and stood in the road as a stream of bees flew around my head, some getting tangled in my hair.  Not so much a problem as it used to be, they easily escaped and rushed to catch up with their fellows heading across the field opposite.  So, did I.  Not across the field, but along the road and then down to the station, where I was hoping to see which direction they had gone in. 'There go my bees, I am their keeper, I must follow them', to misquote the French anarchist Ledrun.  Completely out of breath and puffing like a leaky smoker, I made it onto the empty platform.  No sign of the bees, no smokey trail to follow and no droning sound to give me a clue to their whereabouts.  My first swarm, won and lost in an afternoon.

I walked home more slowly, contemplating my errors and lack of preparedness for what had happened.  If I had a hive and a few frames ready.  If I'd laid a cloth at the base of the hedge to gather up the bees on the lower trunk, or those that fell to the ground......Never mind, I thought.  I wasn't born with a silver spoon, so I'll just have to make do with Sheffield steel.
Paul Mingard

PS There's a couple of postscripts to this story.  More next issue.  Have you got any swarm tales to tell?  Any pictures?

Next HBKA meeting will be at Cherryburn Sunday July 5th

The day runs from 11 am to 3pm with stalls in the Courtyard, live music and various activities through the day.  It is family friendly and everyone can bring their families and have a picnic on the lawn.  We have been asked to provide an observation hive, honey for sale, leaflets and the picture hive to provide info to people on honey bees through the day.  The National Trust also have a basic presentation showing the life of the honey bee and it will show 3 – 4 times during the day.  There will be a HBKA volunteer to introduce this and answer any questions.

The National Trust have agreed that there will be no entry fee to the site for the day.  Let’s hope for nice weather.

Class Acts At Summer Fairs

Honey classes Slaley Show August 8th and Blanchland August Bank Holiday Monday.
Why not enter your honey this year

Taking  Bees to the heather
This part of beekeeping tradition. It's good for overwintering bees and heather honey fetches premium prices. Not sure where to find a stand. Just ask for help and advice on getting your bees ready for the challenge.

Colin Weightman - a Personal Reflection

                I first met Colin one evening nearly forty years ago when he came to inspect my bees.  Half way down my garden path I encountered a very smartly dressed, upright man, carrying what looked like a piece of net, and for the first time I experienced his characteristic firm handshake and cheery ‘hello’.  When in the apiary he put the piece of net in his pocket and proceeded to inspect my bees; I had never witnessed them so quiet.  All the time he informed me what he was doing and looking for, answered my novice questions, and gave me some much needed advice.  Forget any ‘expert’ qualification; this was a Bee-master at work.   Although this was at the end of his busy day on the farm, I was immediately struck by his willingness to give his time and impart his expertise,
                There followed a period of occasional contact, usually at local meetings, when he was often accompanied by his great friend, Brother Adam, or some other well-known beekeeper that was visiting the region and often being entertained at the farm, the ‘hub’ of bee-keeping in the N. E. of England.  Once both Colin and I had stepped away from the treadmill that is work, I visited him regularly at his cottage for what he termed an afternoon of ‘crack’.  In the summer the ‘crack’ was usually preceded by a ‘look in’ the odd hive or three, situated just in front of the cottage, me with the full kit on, Colin with net in pocket.  As I removed frame after frame, Colin invariably eulogised about the Buckfast bee, providing details of Brother Adam’s work to develop it and their trips abroad together.  Before going to visit I always telephoned to make arrangements, to be greeted by the usual “hello” and concluded by “looking forward to it, we’ll catch up and have a good crack”.
                Sometimes my wife and I entertained him and visitors he wished me to meet.  A few days later my wife invariably received a ‘thank you’ note, it was a reflection of the manner in which he was raised by the parents he often praised for their help, encouragement and social training that they unselfishly provided.  My wife accurately described Colin as ‘a perfect gentleman’.
                The ‘crack’ was not just about bees and beekeeping, weather, state of the Country, the political and  upper classes, younger generation, books etc. all got an airing, but mostly it was about Colin’s great love – people; people in general but especially beekeeping people.  This is no surprise, because he had met or communicated with so many, and most of us have been photographed!  We did not always agree but there was always mutual respect.
                As our relationship developed I recognised in Colin a wicked sense of humour, reflected in his stories of beekeeping characters and their nefarious antics and the manner of his response to my occasional interjection – slapping his hands on his thighs, pointing at me and laughing heartily.  He was a great character.  Whilst we enjoyed many laughs together there were the stories he told which had clearly caused him pain.  He desired greater harmony amongst beekeepers.
                Our last ‘crack’ was just a few days before he died.  As usual for that time of year, just as I was about to leave, I was invited to inspect the best super of honey that his bees had gathered on the moors that late summer.  Colin compared the bee season just past with the other good years he had witnessed, followed by a whimsical comment from me and the usual slapping of thighs etc. and a final firm handshake.
                Many of us have had the privilege and pleasure of Colin’s company and beekeeping wisdom and are the better for it.
Bob Hawker

Buy Buy

Dadant hive with colony of bees for sale,one year old marked Queen. £150.00
tel. 01434 618417

Nucs for sale. Contact Philip 01434682494

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