Equipment Review

As we eagerly anticipate the new season it is a time to be looking at what equipment we have, what we need and what we do not need.

A couple of our members have done exactly that and there are additions to the For Sale page. Whether you are a beginner looking to buy you first hive or an established beekeeper preparing for a bumper season there may be something there for you. Check it out.

More to plan for.

I recently suggested that now was not the time to be opening hives. Well winter is expected to make a return this weekend so now is not the time to be disturbing them.

Instead take a look at the beekeeping courses the BBKA are offering this year. They have plenty on offer. Also worth having a look at their special booklets which are here. I was fortunate to receive several of them for Christmas and am working my way through them steadily. They are well worth it.

Watch this space for more interesting things to do over the winter. (That is “more things” not “more interesting”.)

Warming up?

Well we are almost into February and many of us are wondering how our bees have fared over the winter. Now is not the time to find out!

Having had some cold spells it may now feel a lot warmer to you. Perhaps you are even used to the cold as you have not put the heating on for the last two weeks. However it is not warm enough yet to open the hive. it is recommended that a hive is not opened fully unless the air temperature is at least 13C – and it is certainly not there yet.

What can you do now? Well if the day is sunny why not go and see what the bees are up to. Are they just going out on cleansing flights?

For those not aware of cleansing flights they are the equivalent of being snug in bed and realising that you need to go to the loo – but it is just too cold to get out of bed. Well bees are similar. They keep the hive at no less than 5C and the queen is in the middle of the cluster at nearer 30C. Very snug.

Bees can clench their bottoms and go many weeks without leaving the hive in the cold weather. When it does get warm enough to leave the hive they go out on “cleansing flights” and after several weeks in the hive this must be the comfort break to end all comfort breaks!

Those same flights may also give the bees an opportunity to remove dead bees from the hive as well as any other rubbish which has accumulated over the winter.

If you see cleansing flights happening you can be optimistic that the colony is in good order. You may even see pollen being brought in – another good sign.

If there is no movement then assume the worst but do nothing. I have heard of beekeepers who knock on the hive to see if they can hear movement. Do not do this. It takes a lot of energy for a cluster of bees to make a sound you can hear. At this time of year they do not have that energy to spare.

What you can do is heft the hive. Does it feel as if it is the right weight? If not perhaps add some fondant but disturb the hive as little as possible.

So if you cannot yet open the hive then what can you look forward to?


Wednesday 15th February – Social at the Colliton Club 7:00pm to 9:00 pm. Just come along and chat.

Saturday 11th March Dorset County AGM at Colliton Club at 2:00pm – with a speaker.

Friday 21st April to Sunday 23rd April BBKA Spring Convention in Shropshire

Sunday 4th June – Thomas Hardy Street Fair – always looking for volunteers to help.

Saturday 15th July – Beefest – watch this space.

Saturday 2nd September to Sunday 3rd September – Dorset County Show.

Well I hope that has given you something to look forward to.

New Year and lots to look forward to:

Well what a lot is planned for the new year.

13th May : Jurassic Coast Wild Exhibition at Weymouth College Sports Hall. It is about Ants mainly but as beekeepers anything in the insect world is probably of interest.

4th June : Thomas Hardy Fair. Always an interesting day in Dorchester. Come along and see us Skep making – we may even finish the one we started last year!

15th July : BeeFest in Poundbury. A fun event. Watch this space and their website for more details.

July some time : Warmwell Village Fete.

August some time : Sunflower trail

September 2nd-3rd : Dorset County Show including the Honey Show

Watch this space for further updates.

An update.

Just a quick update which has come to my attention in the last few days:

Beginners’ Course: The course for 2023 is now full. It is so popular that we have a full reserve list as well.

Asian Hornets – why worry? Well if you think it is nothing to worry about then I suggest you look at this video on YouTube. It is by Richard Noel who is based in Brittany. His mood comes over so well in this video.

I have just checked and a straight line from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin to Dorchester is just 133km or 83 miles. Given a wind from the South, as we have had recently, that is a short flying distance.

So when you get an alert to look out for Asian Hornets please take it very seriously or we could be seeing what Richard Noel sees in his apiary.