Tuesday 26 April 2011

Bee Events in Bristol

There are two free Bee events taking place in Bristol in May 2011:

On Sunday 8th May 2-5pm there is a  Bee Fair to be held at St John's Burial Ground, Cotswold Road, Bristol. This collaboration between the Windmill Hill Community Orchard Association and Safe Land for Bees celebrates the launch of Beelines on Windmill Hill, building the first bee sanctuary on Windmill Hill.
(Click to enlarge)
Members of the Bristol Sustainable Beekeeping Group (our sister group) will be on hand extolling the virtues of sustainable beekeeping. Also there will be representatives from Safe Land For Bees, Bees Abroad, Windmill Hill Community Orchard Association, Bees and Trees, and Bristol Beekeepers Association, as well as a contingency of local artists from BV Studios.

Also, on Saturday 21st May 2-5pm the second Bee Day is being held at St. Matthews Church Kingsdown.
(Click to enlarge)

YABeeP have again been invited to speak at this community event held as part of the Kingsdown project to introduce feral bees to the heart of Bristol. It is also hoped that Simon will repeat his fantastic Plants and Wild Bees talk he gave to our 9th April YABeeP meeting.

Avon Wildlife and the Bristol Bat Group will also be represented plus the RSPB talking about what to grow in our gardens for birds.

This was a brilliant day last year and we anticipate this one to be bigger and better - be there or be square!.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

9 April 2011 - Meeting Note

Found on Bee Safari
Church wall bee/cuckoo/parasite?
(click to enlarge)
Our second meeting of the season with 25 attending and what a great one it was thanks to a brilliant talk by Simon (see below) and glorious weather. Yet again we started in the Yatton Library which sheltered us from the noise from the aircraft, bells and this time UV rays!

The following is an outline of what we discussed for those who missed it and a recap for those who came and lust for more!:-

News, Update & Gossip
  • Somerset BKA are hosting a talk "The Honey Bee Colony as a Superorganism and Why it Matters to Beekeepers" - Professor Keith S Delaplane, University of Georgia – 13 April 2011 at The Theatre at Hazlegrove School , Sparkford (off the A303) - there is no charge or requirement to book! Info' link
  • 29 April – Juley is holding a 'Not the Royal Wedding and not a Street Party' day in her field - all YABeePers are invited
  • The Kingsdown feral bee group's Bristol Bee Day is 21 May 3-5 in St Matthews Church – they looking for good speakers. [Though following Simon's talk below I think we have their man!]
  • 1st National Natural Beekeeping Conference – Fri 5th to Sun 7 Aug, Worcestershire £160 - Book here
  • Thanks to Steve St Werburgs City Farm are also going to have some natural hives - well done Steve.
  • Phil Chandler of The Natural Beekeeping Network and Biobees website is offering a local 1 day training course day or evening at £25 per head. All that is needed is a site with 2 hTBHs of two nearby sites. ACTION:  If anyone is interested in doing this and/or hosting please contact YABeeP. A volunteer coordinator would also be welcome.
Wild Bees - and more.....
Carlo Montesanti of the Bee Guardian Foundation had been due to speak. Unfortunately he had to postpone last minute and fly to Sicily to attend an family crisis. What to do? so at the last minute I approached our very own Simon Johnson who very gallantly agreed to step in and cover the subject - what a hero! Not only did Simon do this with next to no notice, but his resulting talk was brilliant, personable and presented with such genuine enthusiasm. 
Now which part is which?

Rather than list bee types and species Simon approached the subject using his small city garden and it's planting as the anchor for the talk. Not only did this put the bees in context but it allowed Simon to introduce relevant non-bees - we learned much about flys, wasps and other parasite, cuckoo and bee impersonating insects that can be attracted into our gardens. Having trained and studied as a Parasitologist Simon's love of his subject was clear - his enthusiasm sucked us all in, especially his horror tales about Alien and vampire insects - who knew the world surrounding the humble bee was so fascinating and scary?!!!

At any workshop
you get workers .......
It was so encouraging to learn how with some simple planting we an all help our bees and attract a whole world of insects as well. Simon has kindly supplied his list of plants which can be downloaded here as a 55KB pdf document "Simon Johnson flowers & wild bees" - thanks again Simon. My only regret from this engaging talk was that I didn't record it.

Getting Your Bees
Given we are on the verge of the swarming season (it's already started in Oxfordshire - 3 weeks ahead of schedule!) I ran through the ways and means of getting hold of bees including:

...and you get shirkers :-)
  • collecting swarms; 
  • catching swarms (bait boxes); 
  • other beekeepers; 
  • local associations; 
  • commercial suppliers

This is outlined on our website here - I hope to update this again in the next few days.

Other planned subjects and AOB
Having reduced our booking of the library to 90 minutes the meeting ran out of time so the Kitting Yourself Out slot was postponed to the next meeting. We also agreed that we could individually cover the Member's Update slot at our networking session when we had gone across the road for the practical part of the meeting.

No other business was proposed so we adjourned to St Margarets for networking, coffee, a look at the bees and the...........

Part 2 - Solitary bee house workshop.
Gun-slinger John
the fastest gun in the (South) West
Those who wanted to were able to construct solitary bee houses and many thanks go to Ali for organising and supplying kit houses, Roy and John for the supply of tools, John for the logs and canes and everyone for joining in, pulling legs and covering our garden in sawdust - yet another fun and productive time! Get those homes up quick and watch those bees move in. I just hope that the exploding BBQ kept everyone on their toes.

Next meetings
Hive Building Workshop - Sat 30th April
Meeting - Sat 14th May -10:30
© Robin Morris - YABeePFacebook smileys

Sunday 3 April 2011

Inside a Warré hive

Sadly John lost a Warré hive this winter. This was not 'die-out' but more of a 'knock down'! Let me explain....

He keeps his hives on a friend's field quite distant to where he lives so doesn't get to visit them often, especially over winter. When he checked on them a couple of weeks ago, the first time this year I believe, he found the Warré had been knocked over and, as it's on a steep slope, had broken apart. With all 3 boxes open to the elements the bees had no chance, especially this winter - the coldest for 100 years according to the Met Office.

John thinks it was either a deer or a bulk drop of snow from the tree above that caused it to go. A lesson to us all to ensure that the hive is securely tethered and strapped together as a single unit as a fallen hive only open at one end in one piece may survive. I have accordingly updated the 'Siting your Hive' section on this page.

 There was plenty of honey and stores so it is pretty certain that without the topple and breaking open it would have survived. John kindly brought two boxes over last week so that I could photograph them - see below - he will also bring a box to this Saturday's meeting so everyone an check it out.

Our commiserations go to John and thanks to him for letting us see the contents. On a positive his National is OK and so he has still got bees. At least with the destroyed Warré he'll have 3 excellent bait boxes!

© Robin Morris - YABeePFacebook smileys

Upper box of 3
(click any image to enlarge)

Lower box

John points out a play cup

close up of play cups

Boxes 2 & 3 as they grew

Built from a National hive he even used
the frames - brilliant recycling John, well done!