Oil Seed Rape

Having been out on my walk today – and yes I was totally legal. The scariest part of the walk was when I met a lady who waved her stick at me and warned me not to come any closer because her stick was 1.8 metres long.

Anyway on my walk I saw a lot of oil seed rape. Let us face it oil seed rape is not a shy little flower. Anyway that has caused me to do some research into oil seed rape and bees. It is a crop that can cause bee keepers quite a headache so I thought I would explain why here.

We are also into May and I have added the tasks for this month. It is the month for swarming but who knows what this month will bring. On my walk today the temperature was about 20C which was very pleasant. By Monday the daytime temperature could be as low as 10C – too cold to inspect the hive – and it is May. What a strange year this is!

At the moment the Dorchester Show is still scheduled as usual. In connection with this we have had a request for some bee equipment details of which are on the Wanted page. Do not forget that we also have a For Sale page and if you have used the lockdown to sort out and tidy your kit you may have something that can go on that page.

March 2020

25th March
Still the lock down continues but I am not idle. I am reworking a lot of the web site. Significant are the additions to the Covid-19 page which contains the latest updates.
I have also been updating several other pages. Some is tidying up and I have found a lot of pages which were not easy to see from the front end. These I am making visible from the main menu so keep checking.

19th March
With so many closures as a result of Covid-19 I have set up a separate tab at the top of the site showing what I know. This same information is on the Dorset Beekeepers website.

But enough of this gloom. This is an ideal opportunity catch up on some background reading.

In the March tasks page I mentioned “At The Hive Entrance” by Professor H Storch. I had a link there for a downloadable pdf copy of the book. That link has subsequently disappeared but the book is still available on biobees.com as are several articles by Brother Adam.

17th March evening
Sign of the times but closures are coming in thick and fast:

  • All East Devon BKA events are cancelled until further notice.
  • BBKA has cancelled Module exams for March. Candidates are being offered free deferment till November 2020 or March 2021.
  • April’s Social at the Colliton Club is cancelled.
  • Basic Assessment Training Day has been cancelled.
  • Beginners’ Course has been postponed


If you are unable to get out to your apiary as a result of this pesky virus then let one of us know and we will see what we can do.

17th March morning
I have updated the Diary Pages as several events have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus. This includes the Equipment Auction at Taunton and the Bee Convention at Harper Adams.

One thing we are still able to do is go out for exercise. I suggest you take the opportunity to get out into the woods and look for Asian Hornets. Chances of finding one are low – but it is possible. It is warm enough on many days. Yesterday I was on the South West Coast Path above Bincombe and I saw a butterfly. If it is warm enough for me and a butterfly then it is warm enough for the Asian Hornet.

On a related issue we were watching “Art of France – Plus Ça Change” on BBC ipLayer and in one of the shots there was an Asian Hornet crawling across the shot. No comment was made. Let us hope we never get to that point in this country.

12th March
We had a very chatty social last night at the Colliton club where we seemed to discuss everything from the Black Death to aggressive bees. It was well attended though there was no shaking hands!
Having discussed viruses I felt it was a good time to think of viruses and our bees. They can suffer from a variety of diseases, some from bacteria and some from viruses. One way we can help our bees is to do a Bailey Comb Exchange. It is not a difficult process and I have added a page on how to carry it out. It is a good time to do it as soon as you can get into the hive so prepare your new frames now.

4th March
We held a meeting last night for all those who wish to be available for any call outs if, or should it be when, we get called out to a suspect sighting of an Asian Hornet. It was well attended but if there is anyone else who wants to be added to my list then email me.

The presentation took about an hour but I have extracted it to an mp4 video which lasts not more than 4 minutes! It is worth looking at to see what work is going on behind the scenes. It is here.

One important point is that we want to get the information out to as many people as possible. If you know of a group that would put up with a talk on the Asian Hornet then let me know.

February 2020

27th February 2020 Sunny day again and almost March so I have added the page for things to do in the Apiary in March.

Tonight is the talk by Kevin Pope at the Colliton Club in Dorchester on the subject of Queen Rearing.

12th February 2020
Just a quick reminder that there is a social evening tomorrow 13th February at the Colliton Club in Dorchester.

10th February 2020
Busy on Asian Hornet and Skeps
The lack of write up for the last fortnight or so is easily explained. Last weekend was the skep making day in Weymouth. For those of you who were there I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. For those who were not there we may be running another skep building day and we also do demonstrations at many of the local events. Keep your eye on this space. To see what we did look here.


Then last weekend I was at Stoneleigh at another AHAT conference. Very useful conference where I learned a lot and much of this will be reflected on the Dorset Beekeepers web site and on the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers website.

January 2020

26th January 2020
AHAT Conference
Yesterday was a most informative day. I was at the AHAT Conference at Bridgwater. It was very well attended and there were a lot of good ideas and suggestions for further action. There was a lot of disquiet about the number of kill traps we are using because of the number of friendly insects being killed. This is something I will be writing an article on shortly.

We were advised as to what the role of the Asian Hornet Coordinator should do and in the light of this I have updated the flow chart which describes the role.

21st January 2020
Gosh Another Sunny Day
Busy day yesterday sitting on a train for much of it admiring the Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset scenery. With such a glorious day one could think that spring is just around the corner – but it isn’t yet. Do do make certain your bees have enough fondant or stores and that the woodpeckers are not trying to get in there.

For those with the time and preferably a Senior Rail Card I highly recommend a day trip by train to Bath from Dorchester. Just £13 each for a day in Bath.

What is more while I was there I bought a copy of Buzz by Thor Hanson which is subtitled “The Nature and Necessity of Bees”. I started to read this on the way home and it was well worth buying. In The Works it is currently on sale for just £3.00 and you can see reviews about it on Amazon. I will let you know how I get on with it but I certainly recommend it from what I have read so far.

17th January 2020
Sunny Day at last
At last a day when I can get out and have a look at the hives. As I approached I was pleased to say that all hives were standing and looked to be in good condition. As I got closer I could see that all hives showed signs of activity as bees were coming and going – I assume on cleansing flights. The air temperature was far too low to do anything serious in the hives so all I did was lift of each roof and check the state of the fondant blocks on top of the crown board. Most of the hives had bees on the fondant blocks but in one of them there was no sign of the bees. The reason was that there was an almost empty super between the bees and the crown board. Bit of rearrangement and the food was where the bees could reach it and the empty super is now above the crown board.

I noticed that there were bees in a group half way up the outside of the hive. This was because the crown board has warped. A bit of gaffer tape will solve the problem for now but it will require more attention later.

On Thursday night we had a committee meeting and as a result I have added some more dates to the Dates for Your Diary.

The Skep making day on 1st February is full but if you are still interested we will have a waiting list so it is still worth asking..

15th January 2020
And yet another Windy Day
Windy again! It is a good idea to put straps on your bee hives. That way if they are knocked over by the wind or whatever they are more likely to survive. Straps can be got from places like Screwfix
Being an indoors day I have added a page on hive structure for beginners.
I have also updated the Asian Hornet page so we can speed up response times.
Also I received this link about Asian Hornets in your shed. It does not apply just to Jersey but to us as well.
If you want to read more about the Asian Hornet in depth then the CABI site has a useful page.
You missed a good social last night. There were about 15 of us there including several new beekeepers. Conversation covered numerous topics from swarm prevention to varroa control and the damage goats can do to a hive. Each time I go I learn something else about bee keeping. The next social is Thursday 13th February.

14th January 2020
Another Windy Day
Another violent storm sweeping across the area. Apart from going out to check that the hives are still upright it is a day to stop in and watch videos about bees. I recommend these two Ted talks:
A close up of a developing bee and its Varroa visitor.
and
A talk on the importance of bees.

And also a reminder that on 15th January was our social evening at the Colliton Club at 19:00 in the back bar.

10th January 2020
Siting the Apairy
Glorious day today and so before I go for a walk I thought I would put a page together on where to site the apiary. Putting an apiary where it is best for you and the bees is a difficult decision and may take some finding. Well a day like today is a good one for investigating proper sites so for questions you should be asking yourself look here.

9th January 2020
For Beginners and others
One of my aims this year is to encourage more people to keep bees. I have just read Professor Dave Goulson’s report on declining insect numbers. It is well worth reading and one of the things I can do to halt the decline is to keep bees and if I can encourage others to do the same then so much better.
As part of my aim to encourage others to keep bees I will be writing a series of pages to help aspiring beekeepers. The first page is here and hopefully you will be inspired to read more as I add them.

I made a mistake on a recent post and gave wrong date for the next social. It is on Wednesday January 15th at the Colliton Club – back bar. We hope to see you there.

4th January 2020
Asian Hornet
As we gear up to defend ourselves against the Asian Hornet I have put together a page showing what happens when I get a call that someone thinks they have seen an Asian Hornet. Needless to say it is an ideal scenario – but it is a start. See what you think. It is here.
2nd January 2020
Too cold to go to the apiary. I did an inspection recently and there are food stores, the hives are all upright and the woodpeckers have not been there.
So I have been working on my knowledge of bees and websites.
One of the most interesting videos I have seen has been that by Martin Hocking regarding his experiences when he discovered the Asian Hornet in his apiary. It is available on You Tube and well worth watching.
I have also added a couple of pages of links to our web site. Amongst them are some real gems of information. For example there is an interactive pollen identification page.