Swarm Collection

At a recent course for beginners I described a perfect swarm collection and I then pointed out that it is not like that – ever. And then we were called out to this swarm.SwarmColliton

These bees were at kneeling height and so docile we were able to get in very close without bee suits.

We kitted up and with a pair of secateurs  cut three small ivy branches and gently lifted the swarm into the skep.

The remaining bees were swept up with a bee brush onto a piece of cardboard and dropped into the skep.

Within half an hour we had every bee in the skep and none in the air! We put the skep into a sealed box (actually our recycle glass box) and took them off to their new hive. And I really do mean a new hive – new hive, new frames, new foundation – a complete new build.

Well a week has passed and I am pleased to say that they are settled in and doing what bees should be doing.

I have been called out to some very awkward swarm jobs but this was certainly not one of those.

A lot is going on!

Sunday 2nd June: Thomas Hardy Street Fair 11.00 – 4.00pm

If you weren’t there then you missed our demonstration of skep making  at the Thomas Hardy Street Fair. But here are some pictures from the day:


And for those of you wondering what is the connection between skep making and bee keeping – wonder no more.

When collecting a swarm of bees the skep is used to hold the bees. It has advantages in that it is light weight but substantial so when you have to climb up a ladder and hold out the skep into which you are going to drop the swarm then it is much easier to use than a cardboard box.

It also has the advantage that the internal surface is bee friendly so when you invert the skep over your collecting sheet the bees do not all fall out as they would if you collected them in a plastic box.

More details of the fair are shown here.

Sunday 9th June:Bee Safari
There was an all day bee safari on the 9th of June when the Seasonal Bee Inspector Kevin Pope guided us around several apiaries in the Tincleton and Bockhampton area.  A brief report and pictures are here.

Thursday 13th June:Bee Social at the Colliton Club at 7pm
The social evenings are open to members and prospective members. They are an ideal opportunity to chat bees over a pint. At this one we hope to discuss what we can do for the Beefest so if you want to help and enjoy a social make certain you are in the back bar of the Colliton Club on Thursday.

Saturday 29th June Beefest at Poundbury 11.00 – 4.00pm
This event is all about Bees and Pollinators but there will be a lot of other stalls and activities.
We hope to do candle-rolling; have an information stand plus Asian Hornet  information, the photo-board,  skep-making,  selling honey, and promoting bees and beekeeping generally.  The more volunteers who we have the more we can do.

Wednesday 10th July: Bee Social at the Colliton Club at 7pmThe social evenings are open to members and prospective members. They are an ideal opportunity to chat bees over a pint.

Thursday 11th July:Committee Meeting
This is when plan. If you have any suggestions about what you think we do right, what we do wrong or what we could do better then do let one of us know.

Saturday 27th July an Event in the Borough Gardens, Dorchester
Plastic Free Dorchester Team is running this will as showing how we can be plastic free. Other aspects of preserving and enhancing our environment will also be there so we will   focus on bees & pollinators.

The weather is getting better!

At last I can open the windows without being drenched or blown away. Time to think of the bees again.

Many of our members have put out Asian Hornet Traps and as the weather gets warmer so we must be more vigilant. As it warms up there is an increasing likelihood that any Asian Hornets which have overwintered in Dorset will now come out looking for food.

Check your traps daily.

I have put a map on the site which shows where we have Asian Hornet traps.

If you have an opportunity to place a trap in an area which is not covered then late me know and we will make appropriate arrangements.

I have also added two new social evening dates to the website – see the Dates on the right. We meet in the Back Bar of the Colliton Club, Dorchester, DT1 1XZ.

Go in the front entrance, round the side of the front bar and into the back area where there is another bar and a lot more seating. There can be anything between 5 and 15 members sitting around in a group.

Location of Asian Hornet Traps

Below is a map showing the location of Asian Hornet Traps given to members of the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers. The spread is not too bad though we could do with some more traps further North.

The risk of the appearance of the Asian Hornet increases as the weather gets warmer and vigilance is important.

  • Those of us with traps should be checking them daily.
  • Those of us with bees should be carefully looking at their hives to see if there are Asian Hornets “hawking”.
  • all of us can go walking in the countryside looking for nests.

We all have a part to play in this fight.

Map of the Asian Hornet Traps
Click on the map to load the zoom and pan version.
The map opens in a new window.

Asian Hornet Trap locations
Map of location of Asian Hornet Traps

Did You Miss The Auction?

If you weren’t there then you missed it. If you did miss it then the photos below show what you missed. There was quite a range of items for sale and apart from a hive tool just about all you needed was there.

Perhaps next year?

If you cannot wait till next year then perhaps a trip to Taunton Bee Auction is for you on 24th March 2019

If you did not miss the auction then you know what bargains were there.

Auction Next

if you missed the talk on the Asian Hornet the other night then that was unfortunate as you missed an excellent talk and I learned several new points – but I will save those for another day.

We gave out a lot of Asian Hornet Traps to members and hopefully they have all been assembled and installed. I will be putting a map of the trap locations onto the web site in the near future but mean time back to the auction.

The auction is right at the start of next month – Saturday March 2nd. If last year is repeated this year then there were some real bargains to be had. There was all sorts of items there including hives and smokers – and many of them at prices which would make a Thornes salesman cry!

Asian Hornet Talk

As the weather shows signs of getting warmer we must be on our guard against the Asian Hornet – also known in some areas as the Yellow Legged Hornet

On Wednesday 13th February at 7pm we are hosting a talk on the Asian Hornet at the Colliton Club.

Mark White, the Dorset County AH Co-Ordinator is leading the evening, giving us the latest information plus how to use the traps properly, best place to site them and which bait for the time of year.

For members of the Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers we will also have the traps there for distribution.

Please remember to bring the grid ref or postcode of where you will be siting your trap as we want to monitor as many places as possible. If you do not know the postcode or grid reference then click on the map below, zoom in and pan to the trap site and click on it. Up will come the latitude and longitude. We can use that to plot the trap location on the map.

For beginners, or any members who don’t have bees at the moment, please come along anyway as it is important to know as much as possible about the Asian Hornet.

We will be hosting a map showing the location of all the Asian Hornet traps in the area. If we get a positive sighting the map will show us other traps in the area.

At the moment the map just shows random locations but I hope that after Wednesday night there will be plenty of markers showing the location of the traps.

Click on the map to load the zoom and pan version.
The map opens in a new window.

Map of Dorset Map of Dorset

Auction Soon


Sunninghill Community Hall
Sunninghill Prep School, South Walks Road, Dorchester, DT1 1EB.

An auction of beekeeping equipment and associated paraphernalia will be held in the hall.

A Thorne’s stockist, Diane Sleigh from the Bee Depot will be there. She will be happy to take pre-orders and will also be running the Thorne’s wax conversion/exchange scheme, this shall comply with the tables listed in the Thorne’s catalogue. Please contact Diane approximately a week prior to the auction to confirm the weight and what is required to be exchanged.
Contact details:

  • Email diane.sleigh@thebeedepot.com
  • Phone 01373 430458
  • Mobile 07879 811967

Please Note: Wax needs to be clean and rendered (no hive scrapings) with the crud removed from the bottom, it also needs to be free from wire, stones etc. Colour irrelevant but no pre-coloured wax.



Booking-in of lots from 11 am – 1.00 pm.
All items for sale must be clean, of reasonable and saleable quality, otherwise entry of items will be refused. Neither drawn foundation/comb nor live bees will be accepted.


Buyer registration and viewing of lots from 1 pm.


Selling starts at 2.00pm.

There is ample car parking on site and assistance will be available at the end of the auction to help load purchased items into your vehicle.

For more information contact: Andy Ranson Tel: 01305 770730

The Asian Hornet threat is still there.

Wednesday February 13th at Colliton Club Dorchester

It may be a quiet time in the Apiary but it is not a time to relax. This year we face a greater risk than ever before that we will see the Asian Hornet in Dorset.


The number of Asian Hornets in Northern France is on the increase and that means there are more Asian Hornets which could get a lift over the channel on a lorry or in a car or caravan.

The number of lorries coming into the channel ports will possibly increase under Brexit and more vehicles mean more chances of an Asian Hornet getting a lift.

In Dorset we have extra responsibilities as we have channel ports of entry from Northern France.

And it not just about the bees.
I was under the impression that the Asian Hornet was a serious risk to the honey bee in this country and that was why we should be worried. This is not the case.

The Asian Hornet is a risk to all pollinating insects and that could have a profound effect on UK agriculture. Just think of the food which we eat which depends on pollinating insects. For example in the UK we depend on pollination for all our fruit including strawberries and apples, we depend on pollination for all beans be it runner beans or broad beans, we depend on pollination for tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. All of these foods are at risk if the Asian Hornet gets established in this country.

As part of our effort to prevent the Asian Hornet getting established in the UK the Dorchester and Weymouth Bee Keepers Association is holding an Asian Hornet information evening on Wednesday the 13th of February at 7pm at the Colliton Club in Dorchester.

At the meeting there will be a presentation by Mark White the County Asian Hornet Coordinator who will explain briefly life-cycle of the Asian Hornet, its identification, the current status in the UK and our plans for action. There will be time for any questions and discussion.

In addition members of the Dorchester and Weymouth Bee Keepers Association can collect an Asian Hornet trap. In exchange for the Asian Hornet trap we need to know exactly where you are going to set it up. Most people will be placing their trap near their apiary. We need to know exactly where they are to be installed so that we can see what areas are covered and where there are gaps in our coverage.

We hope to see you there. We all have a lot to learn and a lot to do and this is the best time to start learning and doing.

Time to make the bees cosy

Following a talk to the DWBKA late in December Andy decided to make his bees more comfortable this winter.

This he has done with the aid of some readily available building materials and he has written an article describing what he did.

As someone who was at the original talk it certainly made a lot of sense and I can see why the wisdom of ages may not be the right wisdom. Cold and dry may not be the best environment for the bees.

Here is Andy’s account.

Cosy Box in Place
Cosy box in place around the hive.