Given the glorious weather of the past 3 days (has spring really arrived at last?) the decision to meet in the garden was an easy one, however, with the growing numbers in the group this is becoming problematic – the size of the group -v- the volume of the birdsong, landing aircraft and bell ringing proved a worthy adversary.
Several members unable to attend had kindly sent apologies – many thanks to Lou & Simon, Nick, Diane & Gareth as it's always useful to know.
Once again many thanks to those who brought biscuits and even baked cakes (thank you Joyce!) especially for us all to share.
The usual round table introductions were made to both update us on member's colony progress and for the benefit of those joining us for the first time – welcome Annie, Wendy, Sue, Helen, Rex & Simon. No colonies have been lost since the last meeting but one of Sarah & Robin's is certainly very weak and probably doomed, though surprisingly it is not the one they thought had died out a week ago so watch this space – ain't them bees resilient?!
Safe Land for Bees event - A few YABeePers are hoping to get to tomorrow's Safe Land for Bees event at Windmill Hill, Bristol – speakers include Barrie Trower on Microwave Radiation and Carlos Montesanti of the Global Bee Project.
Kingsdown/Cotham Bee Day - Nick and Helen explained about next Saturday's (17th April) Bee Day which has grown out of a local 'Home Grown' produce group run in the Kingsdown/Cotham area of Bristol. The event which launches their bee project runs from 2:30 – 5pm at St. Matthews Church, Clare Road, Cotham and will include film shows, talks, planting advice and produce – all are welcome. Whilst the group is centred around Kingsdown it will embrace the whole of Bristol so may form the catalyst for a Bristol Sustainable Bee group.
Yatton Horticultural Society Summer Show - Juley suggested that following interest generated by a YABeeP talk last autumn to the Yatton Horticultural Society we could put on a display at their Summer Show to encourage more people to have an interest in bees and bee-friendly planting.
It was felt that as each year a local beekeeper has a honey sales stall and viewing hive display at this show we should first approach him to seek his agreement so as not to 'tread on any toes'. We could always focus the YABeeP display around solitary and bumble bees so as to avoid any conflict of interest.
Juley has agreed to make the necessary approach and feed back to the next meeting.
Several from the group had managed to get along to the Combating Colony Loss day run by the Regional Bee Inspectors in Devon and Jenny kindly reported back. Whilst the day was centred on conventional beekeeping practices it was suggested that the RBI are becoming more receptive to alternative hives and beekeeping husbandry. See this entry for Jenny's more detailed account of this day.
Planting for Bees - by Beanie
Beanie gave us a really interesting talk on Planting for Bees and kindly submitted a note which you can read here for those who missed the meeting or would like to recap.
Pheromones and their Importance to the Sustainable Beekeeper - by Ali
Ali also gave a fascinating insight to the world of bee pheromones and kindly submitted a note which you can read here for those who missed the meeting or would like to recap.
What's Going on in the colony? April/May
This monthly slot is designed to inform members about what's happening within the hives, what are the bees up to and what can we expect.
- April is true the traditional start of beekeeper's year - April to June is the busiest time for conventional beekeepers who try to manage swarming.
- This year we are up to 4 weeks behind previous years, though probably back to a traditional average.
- Still critical period for weaker colonies as increasing brood to feed if they have not had weather/time to build up a foraging workforce
- Queen laying increased to peak level – may be problem given late spring!
- Drone cells will start in earnest this month – from egg to bee = 24 days for drones so you should see the larger drones by at least end of month
- Check your equipment is ready – in particular wash clothing
- Add Warré boxes below colony – if need help call on YABeeP support
- If you are inspecting you hives (horizontal hives) start now on the warm days only
- Check that you queen is present and laying – eggs & brood
- Check the brood pattern
- Check for Varoa and consider sugar dusting.
- Get swarm boxes ready & out – if possible c. 8' off the ground/south facing/dappled shade. You can add honeycomb/way to increase chances and some swear by lemon grass essential oils as a 'bait' though I'm personally not so sure – you can over scent!
Ali introduced the YABeeP schools project that it has been arranged to introduce school children to bees, to dispel the fear of bees and other insects that young children can have and allow them to learn that they are beneficial and friendly creatures. As we will wish to refer to this project Ali's report has been summarised here. She will be chasing volunteers for the day in a later email.
Bee Queue – A Policy for supplying bees
YABeeP operates a policy of trying to supply bees for members. This is usually done by passing on swarms, in our view the best way to populate a sustainable colony as they bees are looking for a new des' res', but can be via nuc's, shook swarms, etc..
We have operated a non-discriminatory waiting list approach whereby once it has been confirmed that a member has completed their hive they are added to the list and get bees on a first-come-first-served basis. As membership numbers are now growing fast and we have more members building second or subsequent hives we need to develop policy to ensure fairness in this approach.
It was therefore agreed that from now on we would apply a general rule to limit this bee supply service as follows:
- 2 colonies per household
Only to members who live in North Somerset – this only applies to those joining from this point onwards so those already on the list or who built hives at the recent workshop will remain on it.
Of course, should circumstances change and we get a healthy supply of bees this policy can be revised.
Whilst the geographic limitation may at first glance seem harsh it was agreed that this would be the most equitable way of dealing with a potential limited supply. There are several other ways to obtain bees and members from outside North Somerset who are able to and wish to make themselves available for swarm retrieval duties can be trained by YABeeP and be added to their local authorities swarm list.
15th May when the Monthly Features will include Varroa control & Nosema (Nick), Swarms & populating your hive and Bumble bee rescue. Weather permitting we shall also have a Horizontal Hive Inspection - please bring your bee suits / veils if you have one - if not why not make your own - see this page!