Friday, 24 February 2012

YABeeP Hive Building Day - 2012

For information this is the text of an email sent to YABeeP members:
I'm pleased to be able to announce the details for the YABeeP Hive Building Day for2012

As explained in my 11th February email to members we are changing the format this year. For 2012 those taking part will get a fully pre-cut flat-pack hive which they will assemble on the day under guidance and tuition from YABeeP. This workshop is designed so that even if you've never picked up a screwdriver before you will be able to take part.
Peter & Ray, with a little
help from your's truly, preparing
for the Hive Building Day
Not only will this give you a low cost Warré hive, but having constructed it yourself you will have a more intimate knowledge of its component parts and what functions they perform. You will also be able to proudly show off a hive you built yourself!

We are very lucky in that Peter Land, ably aided by his glamorous assistant Ray , who were so brilliant at last year's workshop, has very kindly agreed to use his equipment, joinery expertise and time to source the materials and do most of the preparation work up-front. I am so grateful to Pete for stepping forward to take on this massive task for YABeeP - without his generous support this year's workshop would not have gone ahead.

What's on offer:
Those booking a place on the day will receive a flat-pack, self assembly, standard Warré hive which they will assemble at the YABeeP Hive Building Day – see below for dates. This will consist of:

A standard Warré hive consisting of:
    • 3 x bee boxes, each with viewing window
    • standard Warré quilt box, 
    • standard Warré roof 
    • sump box floor (modified Warré to facilitate cleaning, varroa inspection and emergency bottom feeding)
    • standard Warré top bars
    • bee box internal dimensions: width 300 x depth 300 x height 228 (height is +18mm deeper than the  standard Warré) 
Materials used in the kit:
    • untreated kiln dried rough sawn pine
    • 25mm thick timber for bee boxes
    • 20mm thick timber for quilt, roof and sump floor
    • perspex viewing window with timber covers in each bee box
    • No8 2.5" screws (Screwfix Quicksilver) and PVA glue are also supplied
    • animal bedding grade saw dust for quilt filling
What is not supplied - you will need to do yourself after the day
After the day and before you can introduce bees you will need to:
  • supply and fit hessian sacking for the quilt box & bee proof-barrier
  • paint your bee-proof barrier with a water/flour mix 
  • you will need to treat the outside of your hive to weatherproof it using an insect-friendly wood preserver, paint or natural treatment
  • supply your own bees - this is the big challenge, but see this post for ideas
  • supply a security strap or alternative wind anchorage – optional but recommended for all but the most sheltered sites (see picture below)
  • fit varroa screen and/or bottom feeding tray
An instruction page showing how to do all these simple tasks will be posted on the YABeeP website before the hive building day. 

When & where is it?
The hive building day is to take place on Saturday 28th April 2012 – 10:30am to 5:00 pm in Yatton.

Because the build takes place outside we will not be able to continue if the weather on that day is foul. We are therefore booking Saturday 19th May as the contingency day should we be forced to postpone – please ensure that you are able to attend both dates. 

3 box standard Warré
with sump box floor
(click to enlarge)
Cost of the flat-pack hive for YABeeP members attending the hive building day is £65. This price is only applicable for the hive building day. Further flat packs may be available for unassisted assembly after the day, but these will probably be at a significantly higher cost.

On the Hive Building Day members will be assisted to assemble their flat pack hives under guidance. Necessary tools and advice will be supplied at the workshop. Subject to having reasonable weather we anticipate completing the hive assembly on the day. You will also need to arrange transport to take your assembled hive away after the day.

How to book
Spaces on this workshop are limited and will be awarded to YABeeP members on a first-come-first-served basis. Please ensure that you have let me have your completed 2012 Membership Form before booking. Bookings will remain open for members until14th April. Any spaces unfilled at this date will be offered outside YABeeP to other natural beekeeping groups.

To order a flat-pack hive and book a place on this workshop you need to send a completed application form (currently only available to YABeeP members) plus cheque for the full £65 to the Hive Building Day coordinator (again currently only available to YABeeP members).
Note to non-members: To protect member's privacy I am unable to issue the form and send out the details of where to send your cheque until you have been accepted into membership. Please don't send cheques to me.

Cheques must be made payable to Peter Land. You will receive an email confirmation once your payment is received confirming your booking. 

YABeeP promotes responsible natural beekeeping. If you are going to keep bees then you need to learn about these wonderful creatures yourself so that you can care for them properly, recognise any problems and become a responsible natural beekeeper.

You will therefore need to start learning about the following:
  • principles and philosophies of Warré beekeeping. 
  • bees, their biology, physiology and needs
  • bee diseases and other challenges they face

Hive Building Day
production line
Membership of YABeeP is a great start on the road to learning these skills, but you will also need to read about and study your new craft. I am currently drafting a series of pages on this website that updates our 2011 page designed to point you at the best resources. This should be published in the next week or so. If you can't wait see the 2011 Warré Hive Introduction page

Helpers on the day
We have already received some offers to help out on the day from members who won't be assembling hives themselves. If you would also like to join in as a helper then please email me (Robin) as I will be coordinating the assembly day itself. 

That's it. Please address all enquiries about booking a flat-pack plus a space on the hive building day and any queries about the flat-packs themselves to the Hive Building Day coordinator, not me.
For enquiries about helping out on the day please contact me by email.

Robin Morris

24 Feb 2012
2011 Hive Building Day

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bristol Sustainable Bee Group

YABeeP is pleased to host this page on behalf of the Bristol Sustainable Bee Group (BSBG).
  • YABeeP welcomes members from Bristol and beyond, however, we appreciate that some Bristolians prefer not to travel and support a local group; some are even members of both.
  • The content of the box below plus any links to BSBG documents is supplied by the BSBG and does not necessarily represent the views of YABeeP.

The Bristol Sustainable Bee Group (BSBG)
Formed in June 2010 when a nucleus of YABeeP members living in Bristol realised there was probably enough momentum to start a spin-off Bristol group. 

The BSBG's aim
We are a group of people interested in sustainable/natural honey bee keeping. We want to share and learn from each other.

2012 Bristol BSBG Meetings
The BSBG meets monthly on the last Saturday of every month. They meet at The Canteen, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, BS1 3QY (map) between 11am – 12.30am. Meeting dates as follows:
  • 18th Feb 2012 - Click here to read the meeting note
  • 31st Mar 2012 - Meeting theme:  ‘Spring; populating hives, feeding and what’s going on at the hive entrance’
  • 28th Apr 2012  - Meeting themes  to be agreed at prevoius month's meeting.
  • 26th May 2012 
  • 30th Jun 2012 
  • 28th Jul 2012 
  • 25th Aug 2012  
  • 29th Sep 2012
  • 27th Oct 2012

If you would like to join one of these meetings please come along and make yourself known, though it would help us if you could email Misty (see contact details below) to let us know that you are coming.

BSBG Contact
For further information about the BSBG and to let us know if you plan to attend a meeting please contact:
Misty Tunks
email:  mtunks[at]hotmail[dot]com (click the link or reconstruct this anti-spam address)
telephone:  07791 492737

Some smaller Bristol sub groups are starting to form under the BSBG umbrella, email Misty to find out more.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

BBC - Bees, Butterflies and Blooms

I don't usually post the contents of emails sent out to our members but I felt this would be useful to those out of our area who follow the YABeeP website.

The following message was today sent to YABeeP members and those on our circulation list.

Note for those outside the UK: I understand that the BBC iPlayer cannot be viewed from outside the UK so the video links below probably won't work for you.

(Image © Royal Horticultural Society )

Message to members
I make no apology for sending another YABeeP 'round robin' out so soon after the last as you'll want to see this:

Tonight the BBC aired the second in the series Bees, Butterflies and Blooms. This absolutely brilliant series shows broadcaster and gardener Sarah Raven's campaign to halt the rapid decline in Britain's essential bees, butterflies and pollinating insects by bringing flower power to towns, cities and the countryside.

It really is a Must See for YABeeP members and anyone interested in the planet. It's as if this series was made for YABeeP. It's so refreshing to see a bee programme not majoring on honeybees and conventional beekeers.

Through the good grace of the BBC iPlayer you can catch up with this series. If you've not been following it I very strongly suggest that you do so now. If you have then I'm sure that you'll want to watch it again.

To see it get yourself a cuppa, turn off the phones for an hour and follow these links - remember to choose the Watch in HD option (under the picture) if you have a broadband connection and maximise your screen for your full enjoyment:

Click logo above to go to the RHS
Plants for Pollinators website
(Logo © Royal Horticultural Society)

Episode 3. Cities - to be aired on BBC2 next Wednesday (22 Feb 12) evening at 8:00pm.

Act quickly as it's only available on iPlayer only until Weds 29th Feb.


Robin Morris

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Changes for 2012

It is now just a month away from the start of the 2012  Yatton Area Bee Project (YABeePmonthly meetings.

Pete enjoying his bees
Last year we agreed to make changes to way we run YABeeP. I am now in a position to publish these changes and would ask that members read the following. I'll quickly run through these at our first meeting but as we meet to 'talk bees' I want to keep this 'business' element very brief - the chapter and verse is below:

1. Covering our costs
YABeeP's success can, in part, be attributed to the informal nature of the group – it runs without a committee, formal constitution, the need for 'business meetings' and we don't even need to charge a membership fee - all of which means we can just concentrate on talking about bees bees. We wish to continue in this spirit.

Last year we had to start charging a £1 door fee when larger numbers meant we needed to meet in the Library to help cover the costs of room hire, it's required insurance and supplied tea/coffees. Unfortunately on occasions this entry contribution did not always cover the charge and left me out of pocket.

For 2012 therefore, when members renew their membership, they will be invited to make a voluntary donation to club funds of £5 per person. This will not be a requirement - members can opt out of this contribution if they cannot afford it or disagree. The fee will be used to help fund room hire plus pay for refreshments both at these meetings and the informal networks held afterwards in members gardens.

Gentle swarm
nothing to be frightened of
This annual donation will be in addition to the £1 door fee which we shall continue to charge at venues we have to hire.

As we don't have a formal Treasurer Ali Twigg has kindly offered to voluntarily act as in this capacity. In order to impose a degree of transparency we will ask that all contributions be  paid to me. I will log them and then pass the funds on to Ali. This way 2 people are independently aware of the funds received to increase accountability. Ali will maintain a simple account of income -v- outgoings which she will report back on at the end of the year when we can review the success of this method and agree donation levels for the following year.

2. Mentor support for members
We will also start a voluntary mentor support programme to help new and inexperienced members. This will assign someone with more experience to those seeking support on a one-to-one, or small group basis. These mentors will act as a first point of contact for queries, questions and general support. We will attempt to match people based on hive type and locality. Again Ali has kindly volunteered to 'match' those wishing to take advantage of this.

Emma, walking her swarm in
In order to take this forward we need to identify who wants to take part; both those seeking support and those prepared to act as mentors A section has been added to the 2012 Membership Form to facilitate this.

Mentors will not be 'experts'. Rather they are volunteers with some, albeit limited, experience of natural beekeeping offering a first line of support to those starting on their beekeeping journey. Our more experienced members will still be available for advice, views and opinions, but it is hoped that the mentor scheme will prevent our experts from being constantly troubled with more basic questions. Acting as a mentor is a great way of expanding your own beekeeping knowledge as helping others understand this craft is the best way to learn.

3. 2012 hive building day
We wish to continue with this event as it always proves valuable and enjoyable to new and experienced members alike. However, given the increasing numbers taking part each year it requires a huge amount of behind the scenes planning, scheduling work, sourcing materials, organising equipment, etc.
The boys - hive building day prep'

We are therefore seeking to change the format for 2012. Rather than attempt to both cut and assemble hives on the workshop day, we are hoping to supply pre-cut hive kits which participants will assemble on the day under  YABeeP guidance. This should be far more achievable in the 5 hours or so available at the workshop. 

Of course getting the hives pre-cut ready to assemble will involve additional cost. That said I am estimating that this should add no more than £20 to the cost of each hive. Whilst this increase is regretted we feel it is the only way to practically continue running the workshops. Using last year's costs as a guide it should mean members getting a 3 box Warré hive for around £50 to £60 - in my view a real bargain.

4. Other volunteer roles to be filled
and it's not just honeybees - a member
offers a pitstop to a Red Tailed bumble
There are still some roles that it would be great to have volunteers fill but won't stop YABeeP functioning if unfilled. If you feel that you can help with any of these please let me know:
  • Meetings door fee coordinator – arranging for someone to greet arrivals and collect the door fee to pass to Ali at booked venues
  • Publicity person – to send emails to the local free paper/mag &, get posters up in the Parish notice boards 2 weeks before each meeting
  • Special projects coordinator - coordinating anyone keen to run one-off projects, eg school nest building, etc.
  • Social organiser – arranging/coordinating BBQ, Christmas lunch, outings to other bee events/groups? etc.

5. YABeeP - a change of name?
When I started YABeeP in 2009 I had no concept of who would want to join. As it has transpired we now have regular members from as far away as South Wales, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Devon. Our core membership covers the whole of North Somerset, and Somerset county and Bristol. The question therefore arose should we change our name?

Following discussions this winter we have decided that our name, particularly our acronym  YABeeP, is well established and we should therefore not change it.

6. Natural beekeeping, our raison d'être 
As all members will already be very aware, we are firmly a “natural beekeeping” group and wish to remain so.

This winter our aim has been refined to emphasise this and now reads "to provide peer support to individuals and families who want to encourage both wild and honey bees and maybe keep bees themselves. We advocate using bee-friendly natural beekeeping methods. Where our members keep honeybees they do so primarily for the benefit of the bees themselves, not in order to exploit them for forced honey production or personal profit".

Roy feels a swarm's  temperature
We shall continue to accept into membership all beekeepers seeking to move to a more natural way of keeping bees whatever their background or beekeeping experience.  It's the desire to put the needs of the bees first that really marks our difference.

Incidentally, several of us have struggled over which is the correct label to apply to our beekeeping beliefs. Terms such as natural, sustainable, free range, alternative, top bar, holistic, complimentary, apicentric, etc. are often used and all have their place. People like me have been wary of the 'natural' label as it gives ammunition to those against our bee-friendly cause to argue that even many natural beekeeping styles are quite unnatural.

We have to accept however that 'natural' is far and away the most widely accepted term and generally conveys what we stand for to the general public. We have agreed therefore that this is the most appropriate label and would encourage members to feel free to use it to describe our bee-friendly beekeeping style. If anyone challenges your use of the natural label refer them to this.

Robin Morris
February 2012

Natural beekeeping at its best!
One of Lou & Simon's hives in their beautiful garden

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Gareth John Workshops

I have been contacted by YABeeP's very good friend and long time member Gareth John detailing 2 natural beekeeping workshops he is running. Many of you may also know Gareth from his role as site administrator and lead moderator on the Natural Beekeeping Network -

If you want to attend any of these days, detailed below, then you need act quickly as he tells me they are booking up fast.

Bespoke Workshops for YABeeP
I am also very pleased to say that Gareth has again agreed to run some workshops in Yatton specifically for YABeeP members. For us Gareth has agreed to tailor workshops to meet our needs. He's even agreed to run these at £30 per person for a day's training1, bring your own food.

Gareth John
Gareth has particular expertise in managing horizontal/Kenyan hives. Last year he ran a brilliant workshop for us on recovering from cross-combing and making a split. If you would like to attend something similar this year or help tailor something specific to your own needs then please contact Gareth direct (grjohn at btinternet com) as he will arrange the YABeeP  days based on your feedback and with coordinate with me.

Make it clear that you are interested in a Yatton YABeeP training day also let him know your hive type and experience.

Robin Morris

1 Bees For Development also run similar courses in the Forest of Dean but at £87 per day.

Gareth's message:-
Gareth shows members
what to look for
Dear Beekeeper

Below is notification of the first in what I hope will become a series of natural beekeeping weekends in Kencot, West Oxfordshire - map. The aim of these weekends is to foster a general understanding of the principles of what has become known as natural beekeeping. The weekends will be in a workshop style, with plenty of opportunity for interaction and questions.

The Saturday is for those who are starting their journey as natural beekeepers (or are perhaps considering such a journey) and who wish to learn about the concepts that underpin keeping bees as a natural beekeeper

The Sunday is for those who wish to delve more deeply into the subject. You are welcome to attend either or both days. If you have a friend or acquaintance who might be interested, please feel free to forward this email.

If you are interested in attending either or both days, please reply accordingly, saying which day you would like to attend and noting any special dietary or other requirements. Further details of the subject matter for each day, how to pay and and how to get here will be sent once I have an idea of likely numbers.

I look forward to hearing from you:

Saturday 31 March 2012, 10:30 – 4.00
An introduction to honey bees, their place in the local ecosystem and natural beekeeping, including
  • The annual cycle of a honey bee colony
  • Working with the bees - the basics of natural beekeeping
  • Horizontal and Warre top bar hives
Sunday 1 April 2012, 10:30 – 4.00
In depth topics for natural beekeepers, including

  • Colony development in the spring and early summer
  • Swarming and splits
  • The impact of Varroa
  • Gareth training at YABeeP, May 2011
  • Varroa tolerant bees
Both days will be in a small group format (around 8 attendees each day). Each topic will be covered in a talk, followed by questions and discussion. If you have a topic that you would particularly like to be included, please let me know.

Cost: £40 including a good lunch, teas, coffees and cake. Special diets (vegetarian, gluten free etc) can easily be catered for, but please let me know when booking as we cannot cover options that we don't know about!

Hive Opening
As the weather is unlikely to be warm enough for a hive opening, both  days will be indoor-based.  For those who would like a practical demonstration, a half-day hive opening can be scheduled for the weekend of 5th and 6th May.  There will be a nominal additional cost of £5 for this. Tea, coffee and cake will be supplied. Please let me know if you would like to attend such a day.

My Credentials
I have a degree in Agricultural Science and have kept bees on and off over a 40 year period, the last 5 years of which have been in top bar hives.

Gareth John
Natural Beekeeping Weekend Workshops
West Oxfordshire

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Presentations and Workshops

YABeeP is often called on to give presentations and workshops to community groups, local organisations or businesses on bees generally and bee-friendly natural beekeeping1 specifically.

This page outlines some of our 'standard' packages which can be delivered to external groups. Bespoke talks, demonstrations and workshops can also be tailored to a groups particular needs.

Off the shelf presentations/workshops:

YB1: Beefriending Our Bees
Target audience Generalist - anyone who wants to learn more about bees in general and learn some practical ways they can attract bees into their own gardens/spaces.
Duration 45 minutes to 1 hour
Delivery mode Illustrated slide presentation, question time and demonstration of bee equipment, their nests,  boxes and hives
Learning Aim To introduce the 3 main categories of bee found in the UK and outline their life cycle and habitat
Learning objectives At the end of the talk members will understand the 3 main types of bee found in the UK (plus bee mimics and related insects), have a general knowledge of their distinct life cycles and habitat. Additionally members will be introduced to ways to make bee homes for the various category of bee
Primary presenter Robin Morris - founder of YABeeP - Link to biography 

YB2: So you want to keep honeybees? 
The bee-friendly 'Swingometer'
Target audience Those interested in starting bee keeping (honeybees) and wishing to make an informed choice of the management regime and hive types most suited to their aspirations
Duration 45 minutes to 1.5 hours
Delivery mode Illustrated slide presentation and workshop with open forum participation. Includes a demonstration of various hives
Learning Aim To assist those planning to take up bee keeping make an informed decision about the hive types and management methodology most suitable to them
Learning objectives
  • The session looks at the various motivations that drive people to keep bees and the impact of the various husbandry systems currently available.
  • It outlines the basic bee life-cycle, their biology, needs and wants as a wild creature. 
  • Using the illustration of a swingometer it describes a continuum between the behaviour of wild/feral honey bees left to manage their own affairs at one extreme and the intensive husbandry practices of a highly 'managed' production colony at the other extreme.
  • Alternative husbandry systems, hives and bee boxes are then discussed and overlaid onto this continuum.
  • Participants are open to arrive at their own conclusions as to which hive and husbandry systems are most suited to their own personal bee keeping aspirations.
  • This session is particularly suited for those whose interest is keeping bees through a desire to help bees and the environment rather than profit from their honey production.
Primary presenter Robin Morris - founder of YABeeP - Link to biography 

  • In order to host a talk you will need to be able to provide a warm and dry venue preferably with a 240v electricity supply. 
  • YABeeP do not own our own PC Projector so you will either need to supply one with connector to a 'Windows'© p.c. or fund the rental charge. Exceptionally talks can be given without projection by prior agreement but the use of photographs and images gives a significant advantage.
  • On-site parking for one vehicle is required as various hives and ancillary equipment need to be transported.
  • We also ask that you consider the needs of those with reduced mobility and wheelchair users in your choice of venue.
A  modest charge is made for talks dependant on duration and subject. 
A per mile fuel charge2 is also made for the return journey from Yatton, North Somerset to your venue.
All charges are fully receipted.

Further Information:
For further information please contact Robin Morris on or telephone 01934 876275.

Robin Morris

YABeeP believes that bees should be kept using natural beekeeping practices. Click here for an explanation of what this means
2 currently 40p per mile