Cold at last!

You and I may not enjoy the recent cold weather but it is certainly good for our bees.

When it is cold, really cold, they huddle together in the centre of the brood box surrounding the queen. The survival of the colony depends on her survival and the bees “know” it. They will keep the queen warm. They do this by vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat. Bees on the edge of the cluster will be feeling the cold and they move in towards the centre of the cluster forcing other bees to the edge. By constantly changing places all the bees stay at a survivable temperature and the queen is kept warm.

But why isn’t warm weather better? Well if it is warmer some of the workers may be tempted to emerge from the hive to seek food. At this time of year the only food around is the honey stores in the hive and any blocks of fondant you have placed above the frames.

Chances are that any bee seeking food outside the hive will perish from cold or hunger before they can get back to the warmth of the hive. That is then one less bee to keep the queen warm.

So I hope you can see that at this time of year a crisp cold winter is what we want for our bees – even if it is not what will help our heating bills.

So what is coming up for us? Well I have been a bit quiet recently – well as far as you are concerned. In the last month I have made several trips to North Wales – and not one of them was for pleasure. There was snow on the tops and I would have loved to be up there. Alas I was far too busy.

Now I am back in Dorset and pleased to say that I have a bit more time to myself. As a result I have just added another page to the BeeInfo area of the Dorset Beekeepers website. The new page is about allotments and putting your bees there. I thought it would be simple – check with the allotment manager and if OK move the hive up there.

In some cases this may be the case but not always. Have a read of the page to see the pitfalls.

More Information on Winter Things

As I look out of the window it is raining very heavily. Interesting that our rainfall figures for the year may come out as about average. This is not what we have experienced.

First we had a baking hot summer and a very dry one and now we are having a very wet autumn but on average it is all about normal. Don’t trust averages!

Not wishing to go out and get wet I have been updating the web site. I have updated the training courses page. If you are interested then do get in touch soon as places are going fast.

I have also been working on the BeeInfo pages which are hosted by the Dorset Beekeepers website. On there I have put more information about the BBKA exams as well as updating other pages.

AGM coming up

AGMs can be so boring – but not the one for the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers Association.

Firstly – it is held at the Colliton Club in Dorchester – so drinks may be purchased.

Secondly – there are loads of fellow beekeepers there and you can look them in the eye rather than through their veil.

Thirdly – it is an opportunity to influence the direction of the Association. There are a lot of threats to our wildlife – including the new government’s Investment Zones. It is one of these that may be coming to Weymouth. The effect on the environment – and therefore our bees – is enough to stir the RSPB and the National Trust into suggesting national action.

Also, there is a talk by Kevin Pope – our Seasonal Bee Inspector. Always entertaining, always informative – this is a talk not to be missed.

So, I hope we will see you at the Colliton Club in Dorchester on Thursday 20th October at 7:00pm.

Couple of other points: – there are more items on the For Sale page and it is time to renew your membership – and the form is here.

And one more point. There is a petition to cut the use of pesticides in farming. I know the feeling – “have we not signed these before and it makes no difference?”. Well, if we don’t sign the government can claim that we don’t care so if you believe in restricting pesticides then do sign here. So far just 131 people in West Dorset Parliamentary Constituency have signed. That is out of an electorate 83,000.

Swan Feathers

What, you may ask, are you on about.

Well swan feathers can play an important role in beekeeping. Many of us have a bee brush with which we brush bees from frames and our bee suits. The problem with the standard bee brush is that it is too easy for bees to get tangled in the fibres. An entangled bee is not a happy bee, and we all know what that leads to.

A swan with all their feathers.

An alternative tool is to use a swan feather. It has the advantage that it is plastic free and bees do not get tangled in it. The problem is getting hold of swan feathers. Swans do not appreciate you grabbing their feathers. However, there is an easier way to obtain feathers and that is through online suppliers. One I have been recommended is Gold Leaf Supplies from whom feathers can be obtained for about £1.25 each.

This is the time of year to be buying swan feathers as it is moulting time for swans. If you want to take more biosecurity precautions then perhaps buy a feather for each of your apiaries

Membership Renewal

Do you wish to renew your D&W BKA membership for the October 2022 – September 2023 period? If you are not certain whether it is worth renewing then do look at our page on “Becoming A Member“.

If you are going to renew, please complete the attached Membership Renewal Form and return it to the address on the form, preferably by e-mail – a scan or photo of the completed form will be fine. Otherwise by Royal Mail.

Payment can be made by BACS electronic transfer as per the form. If you do not use electronic banking then a cheque is fine.

If you pay UK tax perhaps you would also consider filling in the attached Gift Aid Declaration.

Please be aware that D&W BKA will be producing a Year Card for the 2022 – 2023 period giving the name, town or village, postcode and contact number of every member. This will be distributed to all members in paper form only. We draw your attention to the Privacy statement on page 2 of the Membership Renewal Form and repeat here that you must advise us if you do not wish your details to be included in the Year Card.