Tuesday 26 January 2010

SomersetBKA Training Day

The Somerset Beekeepers Association are holding a Training Day at The Kings of Wessex School, Cheddar on Saturday 20th February, 9:00am to 5:00pm. The full programme can be viewed on their website (scroll down to Lecture Day).

Non-members are welcome - if you are interested in going you need to send a cheque payable to SBKA plus a return SAE to  Caroline Butter at the address at the foot of the programme. the cost is £7.50 for SBKA members, £16 for non-members but this includes a light lunch so represents excellent value for money. 

I attended a similar day run by Avon Beekeepers last year and learned a lot so I would highly recommend this to any of you with, or planning to get bees this year - I would like to go myself but the date clashes with our planned February meeting. 

If you wish to go to this day please also email YABeeP in the next few days as we shall need to reschedule our 20th February YABeeP meeting 

if a few of us go



Tuesday 12 January 2010

Meetings 2010

YABeeP is primarily about providing peer support to like minded individuals, families and groups who want to encourage or keep bees – this includes honey, bumble and solitary bees. Consequently, during the bee season (March to October) we try to meet monthly to provide a focus for us to do this.

Please note: The 2010 series of meetings has now ended. The 2011 meetings will begin in February or March, still to be arranged. Once agreed they will be published here.

2010 Programme:
  • February  13th Meeting - a pre-season planning meeting for members who joined in 2009. New members are encouraged to come to the March date when we kick-off the 2010 season.
  • March 13th - 10:30 am Meeting - Introduction to Sustainable Bee Keeping.March  27th Workshop - Horizontal hive building practical day.
  • April  10th Meeting - Planting for bees; Pheromones and their importance to sustainable bee keepers. 
  • May  15th Meeting - Inspecting a horizontal hive - Gareth John; Monitoring for Varroa & Nosema - Nick Delaney; Swarms & populating your hive - Robin; Bumble bee rescue; 
  • May  22nd Workshop - Warré hive building practical day.  Sorry, this has been cancelled.
  • June  19th Meeting - Shortened meeting as it will be followed by a BYO Barbecue lunch
  • July  17th Meeting - More member's stories; horizontal hive inspection 
  • September 18th Meeting - Winter preparations & the need to feed
  • October  16th Meeting

If you wish to join us at one of these meetings we'd love to see you - please email YABeeP@googlemail.com to let us know who you are, how many will attend and for directions. We hope to hear from you.

Why do we meet?
Meetings allow us to:
  • Welcome new members to learn about our aims and principles and decide whether they wish join us,
  • Provide an environment for those already on board to network with each other to expand their own knowledge, ask questions and share new ideas and thoughts on helping bees,
  • Provide an opportunity to get hands on with bees (dependant on weather of course) and see into a working hive
  • Allow us to meet socially and have the occasional BBQ, picnics, etc., after all life’s not all about bees.
Where do we meet?
Meetings mostly take place in the Yatton area as this is central to our patch, however, we may occasionally meet at a members home elsewhere. The venue details and a map are emailed to members the week before each meeting.

When do we meet?
For 2010 we will be continuing to meet on Saturdays as this was the day favoured by most. All meetings start at 10:30am unless marked otherwise above.

New for 2010
Most would agree that the strength of YABeeP meetings lies in its informal nature; we don't instruct our members or provide formal training courses – remember we are a peer support group! However, this year we plan to have short 10/15 minute themed talks at our meetings, mostly given by our members but occasionally bringing in a local(ish) expert.

In addition to our monthly meetings we also hold hive building workshops as demand dictates. These tend to be all day affairs which allow members to build their own hives for honey bees or  homes for bumbles and solitary bees. As well as being highly productive – you should expect to complete your project within the day - the workshops held to date have all been great social events!

Thursday 7 January 2010

Extreme cold weather

A Happy New Year to all YABeePers

I have just been contacted by one of our group who, given the spell of extreme cold weather we have experienced over the last 2 to 3 weeks, was concerned whether there is anything that should be done to help the bees through it.

The short and very clear answer is NO, leave them alone. Probably the worst thing you can do just now is to interfere with them in any way – just leave them to their own devices and trust to luck.

Looking into the hive
Please don’t be tempted to open the hive or even take a peek in the window if you have one fitted - I suggest that you don’t peek until about March and then only on a warm day. It’s not the cold that kills bees - they have mechanisms to deal with it – remember they have survived millions of years of evolution without our help. If you were to take a peek you wouldn’t see anything anyway – they will have formed a winter cluster away from the window and the sight of nothing will only worry you more as well as having let in the cold and light. Leave well alone.

There is no need to clear this off your hives as snow provides some natural insulation against the sever cold. If we get a particularly warm day whilst there is still snow around you may spot dead or dying bees on the ground around the entrance. This will be bees that have been tempted outside the hive by the brightness that have chilled and are unable to get back in – there is nothing you can do so don’t worry, probably best not to even look.

Adding any artificial heat or further insulation will only warm the hive and bring them out of cluster too soon. The danger of this is that it may encourage them to break cluster and tempt them outside to their deaths.

It’s a worrying time for beekeepers especially as with the warm autumn we have just had we have been used to seeing them flying, and even been bringing in pollen, very late in the year. Indeed, I have just checked my records and can confirm that one of our hives had many flying bees taking advantage of a break in the cold weather and flying on Boxing Day -26th December! 

Hopefully you will see your bees taking cleansing flights (they need to relieve themselves after all ) when we get warmer spells. It’s far too late to do anything to help them now so please leave alone and don’t worry!