Bees and Honey at Dorchester County Show

Hopefully the bees are doing what bees should be doing – making honey. And now is your chance to show us how good your bees are.

At the Dorchester County Show there will be a Honey Competition where the best bees can be judged- as well as their keepers!

Attached to this blog is the schedule for the show and also an entry form.

There is no point in producing the whole of the document again on this page but for those of us who sell honey I thought these words of advice from the schedule may be of interest:

  • Ensure that clear honey is clear with no crystals or frothy scum.
  • Ensure that set honey is set.
  • The surface should be dry with no trace of scum or ring of bubbles.
  • Overfill your jars to start with – this allows for skimming.
  • Ensure your honey is spotlessly clean.
  • Honey must be free from all foreign matter.
  • Screw the lid on firmly, polish the outside of the jar and stick on the label.
  • The next person to remove the lid should be the customer.
  • It doesn’t matter if the lid is wet with honey – as long as there is no honey on the outside of the lid or the jar.

Hopefully this will help you present your honey whether it is to the Show Judge, a consumer or just the tea table.

Anyway if you are entering the show here is the schedule and when you have read that then here is the entry form.


Furzehill Farm Meeting

We had about 15 members attending. We looked at a Top Bar Hive, Polyhives, and Nationals as well as having a lovely apiary tea in the shade of the orchard. The bees were very well-behaved considering how hot it was. We also practised using a refractometer on honey in the comb and some already taken off.


Sunday Apiary Visit

Apiary Meeting on Sunday 24th June

Our first meeting of the season was very successful and enjoyable. It was at Nick Knight’s apiary at the foot of the White Horse Hill. About 20 people attended including some very new beginners who, thanks to Nick, were able to handle bees for the first time. Nick also opened his Top Bar Hive which was very interesting to many of us who have not seen one in action before. The meeting ended with a tea break and a bit of a Q&A session.


World Bee Day

This Sunday, 20th May, is World Bee Day to raise awareness of the importance of the Honey Bee in the environment and in our economy.

I have had a look at the web site link given above and it is full of a wealth of useful information and well worth looking at.

Locally we are doing our bit with a display at Poundbury Garden Centre It has produced a lot of interest and I advise you to pop up and have a look – perhaps even answer a few questions from the curious.

Asian Hornet

Sorry to raise this issue again but it is something that has not gone away – in fact it is becoming more worrying.

There has been a sighting of the Asian Hornet in Bury in Greater Manchester on a cauliflower which was traced back to a farm in Lincolnshire. This one was identified as an Asian Hornet Queen – but it got away.

Estimates of the damage that the Asian Hornet can do vary but it is estimated that a single Asian Hornet can eat 50 or so honey bees a day.

It is suggested that the next two weeks are the most crucial if we are to prevent this pest becoming established in the UK.

I know I have said it before but there is an excellent ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app available to download from the Apple and Android app stores which can be used for identification and reporting. This is not just for beekeepers but for anyone.
Asian Hornet (BWARS)

Local Events.

Couple of local events coming up which may be of interest to beekeepers – and indeed anyone interested in the natural world.

Saturday 14th April

Radipole Park is holding a day entitled “Nurture Nature and Welcome Wildlife” from 11am to 3pm on Saturday 14th April. There will be a chance to meet wildlife experts as well as children’s activities and refreshments available.

Monday 14th May for two weeks to Sunday 27th May

Poundbury Garden Centre will have a display set up by Dorchester and Weymouth Bee Keepers Association. This is to coincide with World Bee Day on Sunday 20th May. We expect a lot of interest in the stand and we are looking for volunteers to be there to answer questions. From experience I can tell you many of the questions will be of the sort “Have you been stung?” and “Does it hurt?”. The aim is to raise profile of the bees and their importance in pollination. Honey is a tasty extra.

If you can spare an hour or two then do let Sally know. There is tea/coffee for volunteers!


Equipment for sale.

Following the recent very successful auction there were several people who have contacted us and said they wish they had known that there was an auction. And then there were others who wished they had better described their goods so that they stood a better chance of being sold.

In the light of this we have added a section to the website where we can bring vendors and purchasers together. This new section can be near the top of the page under the equipment menu.

There was a honey spinner for sale  here but it has been removed – because it is sold.

If you have any bee equipment to sell then this is the site that could do it for you/

Further items will be added as I am sent details at

If there is a specific item you seek then let me know and I can add them to the “Wanted” section.


Bees and sprays


Lovely sunny day, hardly a cloud in the sky and just a day to get out and apply that first spray to the crops – but what about the bees?

There are all sorts of reasons that bees suffer from colony collapse or fail to do what we expect them to and one of the reasons that is often suggested is crop spraying.

In towns where many of us keep bees this is not a problem as there is very little spraying which is likely to drift far from the intended plants. However in the countryside it can be a far more serious problem.

It is for this reason I was intrigued to see a web site that helps around this problem. The site is and aims to advise bee keepers when there is going to be spraying in the vicinity of their hives.

The way it works is that farmers who are registered place a pin on the map where they are going to spray and show what is being sprayed. As beekeepers we also place a pin on the map to show where we keep hives. It is not necessary to have a post code for a hive which is probably as well.

The farmer will notify  beeconnected when they are going to spray and an email is then sent to the owners of the  registered apiaries in the area which is being sprayed. Bee keepers can decide how big a radius they want to cover and the software allows them to choose up to 5km which is about as far as the bees are likely to go to forage.

In this area – around Dorchester – there are 15 farmers registered and 47 beekeepers. Fifteen farmers may not sound like a lot but with the size of many farms these days this could cover a lot of land.

So if you are a beekeeper it is a good idea to register.

But what do you do if you get notification that there will be spraying in your area? One suggestion is to move your bees to a new location but for those who have ever done this then you have some idea what a problem this can be.

A more practical suggestion is to cover the hive very loosely with wet sacking – more like a tent with the hive in it than a well wrapped parcel. Allow the bees space to move out of the hive and cluster by the entrance if it is too hot inside. The sacking should be kept wet to avoid the hive overheating and at the same time it may absorb some of the drift. It is not ideal but there seem to be no sure-fire ways to protect bees.





What happened at the auction?

Well I am sorry to say that if you were not there you missed it! Was it worth going to? Well I will let you decide.

There was a complete National Hive there with two supers, a brood, crown board, roof and legs and that went for £76 and then another one for £95. Now you don’t have to look far in some well known catalogues to realise these were bargains.

For those of you interested in microscopy then this was your chance to pick up a good looking microscope for £40 – another bargain.

National Supers were going for about £10 each.

Not everything was sold and a manual spinner with settling tank did not reach its reserve of £100 but for many things there was brisk and enthusiastic bidding.

This year I don’t need anything but next year could be different and I will certainly be putting the auction on my calendar.

What is happening at the auction?

Well at last it is auction day and for those who have not yet got down to the auction at Sunninghill Community Hall at Sunninghill Prep School, South Walks Road, Dorchester DT1 1EB here is some of what you are missing.

If you have anything to sell then bring it down between 11:00 and 13:00 to book it in and the auction itself will start at 14:00. How long it goes on for depends on how much we have to sell and how keen the bidding.

There is plenty of parking.

I have just been down to watch the setting up and there is a lot going on. Below are pictures I took of some of the items which will be for sale this afternoon.

If you are a new beekeeper then this is your chance to pick up a complete kit for a bargain price – and there are plenty of experts there to help you choose.

If you are an old beekeeper then here is a chance to replace the things that have worn out – though there are no new backbones for those of us who think Supers have got heavier.

See you there.