December 2015 Newsletter

Newsletter December 2015
There is little to do around the hives this month, apart from checking that the roof/s are secure and no rain is getting in.
The Met. Office tells us that we have had one of the warmest autumns on record, and our bees have been flying on
fruitless journeys looking for forage and wasting their precious winter stores. So, do please regularly “heft” your hives
to make sure they are not getting too light, and put on some fondant over the feed hole if you are in any doubt. Do also
make allowance for the fact that water saturated hives in winter will weigh much more than they do in summer.
Also, be sure not to rush in and apply oxalic acid in syrup to your bees until we have had at least 3 weeks of more
seasonal December weather so that the bees have stopped breeding. Remember that we will be demonstrating oxalic
acid treatment at the Wern apiary on the second Saturday in January next if you need to brush up your technique.
Api-Bioxal Sachets are now licensed for use in the UK, and are freely available from the usual suppliers. Each sachet
will make up enough medication for a minimum of 14 hives, so you may wish to share a sachet with others.
Now is a good time to tidy up your apiary, as you will not be disturbing the bees. It is also a good time to do repairs
and maintenance on your spare equipment. This includes cleansing and disinfection, and you can get guidance on what
to do in the appropriate sections of the “ Beebase” website. The nosema medication “Fumidil B” has been withdrawn
from sale, as there is no agreed maximum residue limit in honey. Consequently, beekeepers will have to rely upon the
possible use of “Vitafeed Gold” feed supplement but more importantly apply more diligent attention to hive hygiene.
Regular scorching of wood and metal (not zinc) hive parts with a blow torch will kill all living things. Only pristine
brood comb less than 3 years old should be reused, but it should first be fumigated with acetic acid in the approved
way. All old wax should be melted down and recycled, and the frames can be cleaned and disinfected before new wax
foundation is put back in.
As a general rule, we should be replacing every brood comb on a three year cycle. This is to reduce the levels of
pathogens, pests, and pesticides/chemicals accumulating in the wax. Just think – a newly established feral colony may
only produce one generation of brood in new comb before it gets filled with stores, and more new comb is built to take
its place. In contrast, we force managed colonies to produce up to ten generations of brood in the same comb each year
by confining the brood in a brood box. So make sure you have enough frames with foundation ready for next season.
Another winter job is to refine your wax ready for trading in for more foundation next year, or for making other hive
products. I boil up my wax with water one or more times to remove soluble impurities. Then I dry it, warm it
carefully, preferably in a water bath, and strain it through old nylon tights into suitable moulds to make blocks.
Check that mouse guards are in place and are not clogged up with dead bees.
Make sure that roofs are secure and hives are watertight.
Tidy up around the apiary while the bees are sleeping.
Clean up, repair and sterilize equipment ready for next season.
Make plans for next season – consider buying equipment in the early-bird winter sales.
Make time to network with other beekeepers, cruise the internet, and read around the subject with some good
7. Above all, just accept that to become better beekeepers, you must become part of the lifelong learning sector.
8. Finally, regularly heft the hives, particularly if we have a mild winter, to make sure the bees have enough
Winter is also a good time to catch up with reading around the subject. The association library is constantly buying in
new titles to broaden your horizons, because it is vital that we should try to keep up to date with new developments
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and see different approaches to the craft. Please see the list of titles on the website, and contact Peter Bustin or myself
if you wish to borrow any book, or have suggestions of titles to buy.
Original library list, contact Peter 01874 690445,
Library additions, contact David (me) 01497 820419,
Our Autumn Workshops - Chris Cardew writes:
We were very lucky in Brecon and Radnor to have Peter Guthrie accept an invitation to talk to us on November 21st
about his experiences as a beekeeper over the past 49 years. Peter is known to many across the UK as being a honey
producer, honey judge and supplier of beekeeping and bee feeding products. When discussing this workshop with
Peter he decided that the title of Beekeeping in Wales would be most appropriate to emphasise his experience in the
locality and also to highlight the differences that exist in beekeeping in the UK.
The workshop was split into three parts: Managing Honey, Feeding, Legislation and the Law. These topics and
hence my notes
- which are posted online on our website being of most interest to the beekeeper of a few seasons or more who is keen to improve and also to expand honey
I would like to express my personal thanks to Peter for his enormous effort in putting this series of three
lectures/workshops together to a highly appreciative audience of over 20 beekeepers. At the end of each session Peter
was thanked with rousing applause from the audience. It is usual to show our appreciation at the end but to get
applause like this after each session is true testament to our full appreciation.
Thank you Peter!
- And our thanks also to Chris for all his work in organising what’s so far been a great series of workshops for us.
Look out for information coming about our Spring 2016 Workshops.
Notes from the WBKA November meeting
The Welsh Beekeeper is to be improved, with a larger format, and more space for editorial content and advertising.
The existing small format meant there was only room for some of the content of the autumn 2015 edition in the hard
copy which was posted to us all. (If you haven’t already seen the full version online, do have a look.) Advertising
rates are being determined for the new look magazine. Submissions for content, and letters, are invited. Its production
will cost the WBKA very little more than the existing magazine does, and it’s hoped that it will become self-financing.
The 2016 Convention is set for 2nd April, in larger accommodation at the RWAS showground. It’ll be opened by
Margaret Ginman from the Bee Farmers’ Association. Speakers booked include Clive de Bruyn: Making a Start in
Spring; Natasha de Vere: Plants for Healthy Honeybees; and either Mike Brown or Nigel Semmence, NBU: What the
Beekeeper Should Know about the Asian Hornet. £7 advance; £9 on the door. Stewards are needed!
The EU Apicultural Fund, Hive Numbers – and avoiding compulsory beekeeper registration
Wally Shaw (Technical Officer) presented a report explaining that the amount of money each country receives
annually from this fund depends upon hive numbers. The UK must be able to satisfy the EU as to the accuracy of its
hive number information. The original EU idea of individual hive registration has been abandoned, but Wally writes:
However, the bottom-line still is that if we can not satisfy the EU as to the validity of our hive return it is still on the
cards that compulsory beekeeper registration could be introduced. This would be the responsibility of the UK
Government who have several times in the past indicated they were in favour of compulsory registration.
In order to avoid this, reliably accurate beehive numbers need to be obtained. The proposal is that individual
associations take an annual census of their members, asking how many colonies each had on a specified date. - All
information about identity of beekeepers to be kept confidential. (It’s only the numbers which would be put forward to
the WBKA, and on to the NBU.)
Wally says: I think we should accept that co-operation is a better option than risking enforcement. Providing the data
suggested is not ‘the thin end of the wedge’ but instead provides a strong argument against the need for registration.
This is something the B&RBKA needs to consider.
The WBKA needs volunteers, for posts including general secretary, and also for trustees without specific duties. The
Chair (Jenny Shaw) is also due to end her term in the role in the spring. Too few people have been doing too much,
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and sometimes for too long. This is more than we should expect from the people concerned - and it’s not good either
for the continuing smooth and democratic running of any organisation. This may have contributed to recent situations
in which certain individuals found they weren’t able to work together, and resignations followed. Steps are being taken
to ensure that doesn’t happen again, but in order for there to be a broad balance of opinion, new ideas, and a
reasonable distribution of responsibilities, there’s no getting around the fact that more people need to be involved.
In addition to an admin team, and the trustees, there are committees for events and the convention, and for education.
There’s the WBKA presence at shows; the website and magazine. Representatives go on our behalf to meetings both
within and beyond Wales. PR help is needed. - There’s plenty of choice as to how you might like to get involved.
Personally I think we need a good strong WBKA to represent us and act for us, and hope that more people will feel
they want to participate, in one way or another.
If you’d like more information emailed out to you – eg. the Regional Bee Inspector’s report, the whole of Wally’s
report, details of posts vacant, etc. please let me know ( or on (01497) 847357). Or you can of
course contact the WBKA direct.
Membership Renewal of B&RBKA - A reminder
BDI applies to full members of B&RBKA only. Associate members do not have BDI. All full members should have
received an insurance certificate via email or post, if required.
Your BDI insurance policy runs from 1st January to 31st December. If you pay your membership fee in January you
get the full year's cover. But if you pay after 31st March your insurance cover does not begin for 40 days.
Wisest to make sure that all the colonies you are likely to have in 2016 are covered from the outset. (Bearing in mind
the likelihood of making splits, housing swarms, etc.) Having any additional uninsured hives would mean you would
not be covered in the event of your needing to make an insurance claim. (There is some opportunity to add extra hives
to your insurance at a later dates if necessary.)
Regarding membership of B&RBKA, your subscription covers the period from the 1st January to 31st December. If
you pay later in the year, your hives won't be insured and you're not getting your full year's worth of membership.
Full membership entitles you to access to our website and apiaries, membership of the Welsh Beekeepers' Association
and their magazine, our monthly newsletter, and a reduced rate for Beecraft magazine.
Membership forms will be available at the Christmas lunch and our AGM, which will be on 13th February 2016.
Otherwise you can print one off from our website.
Calendar Of Events
December 5th at 12.30
Christmas Lunch
Pilgrims, Brecon
Early 2016 dates so far. (Details, and those of additional workshops, to follow)
Sat 9th January 2pm Oxalic Acid at the Wern followed by tea at Llanddew village hall
AGM (to be followed by a talk, and seed swap)
20th February B&RBKA Spring Workshop with Roger Patterson: “Bee Improvement for All”
2nd April
Welsh Beekeepers’ Convention at Llanelwedd
Contributions & Advertising for the Newsletter and B&RBKA website
Please email contributions and ads you’d like included in the newsletter to and items for the
website, to Peter Bustin. And remember to keep an eye on - for the
latest news.
BB Wear offer members 20% off all items in their clothing range. Free gloves are not included with the full suits.
They can also offer us 50% off Washable Leather Gloves or Spats. In order to get the discount, you need to contact BB
Wear direct, by email or phone, and place your order. You’ll need to ask our Chairman or Secretary to email BB Wear
confirmation that you’re a member. They will then process your order.
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Nb: if you order online you will not get the discounts, and discounts cannot be refunded after the order has been
placed through the website.
They also offer an embroidery service. Suits are normally embroidered on the breast pocket. Prices start at £6.50.
Tel :- 01872 562731 Email :- http//
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security –
the recent good spell of weather has enhanced the bees for the winter.
Our scale hive is now lighter than it was two months ago.
Talking with friends in Belgium and Germany, we understand that sugar prices
are due to rise by about 10% from the beginning of the new year.
We will be pleased to help any members with fondant/syrup
at present prices until 1st January.
Wax Foundation, Deep and Shallow Frames and Equipment
for National Hives, together with Honey Jars,
Syrup and Fondant available all the year round.
Tel: (01874) 754412 to come by appointment only to
Peter and Marian Guthrie
Wyefield Apiaries, Ty-Gwyn, Boughrood-Brest, Llyswen Brecon LD3 0BQ
Our Key Contacts
Acting Chairperson: Peter Bustin (01874 )690445
Acting Secretary: Roger James (01874) 636126
Ty Siloh, Llendeilo’R-Fan, Brecon, LD3 8UD
Treasurer: Martin Nosworthy (01597) 823261
Membership Sec. Diane Williams (01497) 822747
Seasonal Bee Inspector: Vacant
Apiary Managers:
The Wern: David Coles (01497) 820419
Peter Bustin (01874) 690445
Cefn Dyrys: Fred Eckton (01591) 620456
Swarm Contact:
Peter Bustin (01874) 690445
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