Dorset Beekeepers’ Convention

A chance to get together and meet other Dorset Beekeepers and hear some inspiring speakers. I suggest getting tickets earlier rather than later.

When?: Sunday 29th October from 09:30 to 17:00 – a full day of interest.

Where?: Blandford School, Milldown Road, Blandford Forum DT11 7SQ

Why?: Stephen Flemming will talk on Drone CAs
Margaret Murdin will be talking on “Bee Genetics Made Simple”,
Anne Rowberry on “What We Can Expect From Our Dedicated BBKA Trustee
Robert Whittick on “From Beekeeper to Bee Farmer.

And Exhibitors?: Northern Bee Books, Thornes, Vita, an Asian Hornet Stand, Dorset Wildlife Trust

What about refreshments? Tea and Coffee on arrival, Afternoon Tea, but bring your own lunch.

The cost? It costs £8.00 for Dorset BKA members and £10 for non-members.

Tickets?: These can now be obtained from Ticket Tailor at Dorset Beekeeping Convention.

The Asian Hornet is here

The Asian Hornet is here in Dorset as well as other parts of the UK.

Why does this matter? – The Asian Hornet can destroy a hive very quickly.

What do they do? – They hover, called hawking, outside the hive entrance. They will grab a honey bee near the hive. They rip of the wings and eat the body -a useful bag of protein.

How does this affect the hive? – Firstly the Asian Hornet is eating foraging bees. The colony soon becomes aware of this threat and they will not leave the hive. The result is the hive could starve.

But why target bees? – Well a honey bee is a social insect and a colony will have many thousand flying bees. Once an Asian Hornet finds a hive it has found a ready supply of food. Much easier to hawk outside a hive rather than go hunting for solitary bees or bumble bees.

What can we do to stop them? – Learn what an Asian Hornet looks like. Look for them if you are out walking. Some have been spotted by people dog walking and others whilst sitting in the garden.

How do I recognise one? – They are bigger than a wasp but smaller than a European Hornet. They have yellow legs, an orange face and a single yellow band across their abdomen.

And if I see one? – If you have a Smart phone then download the “Asian Hornet Watch App” for iPhone or Android from your usual app store. That has pictures of the Asian Hornet and other insects with which it can be confused.

What else can I do with the app?– If you can get a photo of it then the app can send that off along with your location and time you took the photo. If it confirmed as an Asian Hornet things will happen.

But I don’t have a smart phone. Then there is an online reporting tool here.

What things will happen?- DEFRA will be alerted and they will send a team to track down the nest and destroy it. They then analyse the nest to see if it is an isolated nest or one of several in the area.

Is the Asian Hornet dangerous to humans? – Like many insects their aim is to survive and they only get aggressive if you are threatening them or their nest. They are bigger than bees or wasps so they carry more sting venom. If they are threatened they may group together and attack on you – beware.

What about the nests? – The nest looks like a wasp nest. If you do spot one then make a note of where it is and move away. Report it using the app and let professionals deal with it.

Any other tips? – I have been called out several times to suspected sightings. They often fly too fast to see clearly. Take a video of them flying then go through it frame at a time. That helps.

Can’t we just ignore them? No. They will start by killing many of our honey bees and without local honey bees where will you be able to get pure local honey.

But I don’t eat honey. – And Asian Hornets don’t just eat bees. When they have eaten the bees they will start on other pollinating insects like butterflies – and without pollinating insects our fruit bowl will be a sad place.

Where can I find out more?Beebase is useful as is the BBKA

Honey Show soon.

Just a few of the many entries in 2022

It does not seem like any time since I last did a post regarding the Honey Show but here it is back again.

The Honey Show is on the 2nd September at the Dorset County Showground as part of the Dorset County Show. Now that may seem like a long time away but it is closer than you think!

This year there are 40 classes you can enter – and fudge is one of them.

There is a fee of 25p for each class entered and we need to know what you are entering by Monday 21st of August.

Attached are pdf copies of the Show Schedule with all the details as well as the Entry Form.

Also are docx copies of the Show Schedule with all the details as well as the Entry form.

There are several different classes as well as one for novices so even if you have never entered before this is a chance to raise your game. Not only will it help you improve your presentation but think of the fun you could have testing fudge recipes!

The Judges hard at work

What a year!

Near the top of Snowdon showing the Pyg Track and the Miners’ Track – and I did both.

This year has not gone quite as I anticipated – and hence the shortage of posts recently.

It started off well enough. I had two colonies which were not the strongest but I decided not to combine them and I expected them to get through the winter. Neither colony had produced enough honey for me to extract any so I left them with all of it. Both colonies got through the winter.

But it was not the success I was hoping for. In the Spring, before I could make a full inspection they left! I mean they left. When I came to check the hives both were empty – no bees dead or alive. This was clearly not a swarm – it was too early and anyway there was no way they were short of room.

It is not just in the apiary that things have not gone as planned. Instead of spending all my time in Dorset and further exploring the extensive network of footpaths in the county I am in North Wales. In fact I have just added up dates from my calendar and I have spent more time in North Wales than in Dorset this year.

Knowing this was likely to happen I decided to give practical beekeeping a break for this year until things settle down – which hopefully they will be September.

Anyway I have now found a place where I can access the Internet and I have the time to put more posts on the site so hopefully I will be able to update the site more frequently now. That is when I am not walking up Snowdon. After that anything I walk in Dorset should be a doddle!


Swarm in a Hawthorn Tree – © Crown copyright

It may seem premature to be talking of swarms when some of us have only managed a couple of full inspections but things can change very rapidly.

If you do see a swarm then do not ring our Bee Inspector. Instead check out the BBKA web site. On there you will find links to help you identify a swarm and a map to show you all the local swarm collectors.

For those of you who have not come across a swarm before here are some useful points:

  • Beekeepers only collect honey bees.
    • We do not deal with wasps
    • We do not deal with bumble bees.
  • A swarm can appear as a terrifying invasion – it is not.
    • The bees are looking for a new home – not a new victim!
    • The bees are looking after their queen.
    • When they have found a new home they will fly off there.
    • I have collected many swarms and I never been stung whilst swarm collecting.
    • Our ideal swarm is hanging from a branch within easy reach.
    • Our most difficult are those in cavity walls – high up!
    • Most swarms will move on within a few hours – as soon as they have found a better location.
    • Once we have collected a swarm we will place it in one of our hives.