Recent activity at the apiary

It's always good to see tangible evidence that the level of expertise within the club is progressing, and we got this in late June 2023 when seven of our members passed the BBKA basic assessment, so congratulations to James Knights, Tim England, Patrick Letschka, Steve Smith, Kazem Hadafmand, John Young and Paul Evans!

Unfortunately our honey extraction had to be postponed due to a downpour of rain on the day, but, looking on the bright side, after a poor start to the year and bad weather during the Spring, there wasn't much to remove anyway.

We decided to change the format of our branch honey show this year, and had classes for wax products, honey cake and biscuits, honey drinks, photos and drawings, as well as the usual jars of honey. We are much indebted to sevearal ladies from the Women's Institute and the Brownies for coming along and judging the entries. It was a well attended afternoon with a barbecue for all, capped by Andy being presented with the trophy for the best in show - only fitting perhaps as he had made the trophy himself!

Dr. Sara Robb made a welcome return to our apiary on September 23rd, with a practical session on cosmetics with hive products. It's always an entertaining and informative afternoon when she leads a session. This time she made honey hand cream with raspberry seed oil, honey lip balm with propolis extract and sea soap with lime.

Owing to the large number of reports of asian hornets in Kent, the committee decided that we needed to slip in an extra talk to raise awareness. Simon Spratley, a beekeeper from Capel-le Ferne near Folkestone who has had experience tracking the hornets and working with NBU AH teams was invited on September 21st to give a talk on his experiences. The level of interest was shown by the turnout which more than filled the apiary hut. We were all suitably concerned by the prospect of Asian hornets becoming naturalised in Britain.

A lighter afternoon was spent the following Saturday when John Young led a candlemaking session. Everyone had a go at pouring candles and John demonstrated the technique for making dipped candles.

The year's activities were brought to a close with the branch AGM on November 25th at which we said goodbye to Patrick Letschka as secretary who is stepping down after eight years of diligent service to the club. Courtney Joseph agreed to take over the post and we look forward to working with him. Those who wanted went for a meal afterwards at the One Bell in Bexleyheath.

To greet 2024 we held an apiary garden working party on January 20th, clearing up all the leaves from last Autumn and cutting back the trees and shrubs which had grown over the paths and hives. There's still plenty to do but the apiary looks a great deal neater! Since then we have had two further work days with a couple of the weed sycamore trees cut down, furtherwork on laying a membrane uner the paths, and ongoing work lining the back shed and repainting the main hut which now looks a great deal neater.

Simon Spratley returned on February 17th to give an update on the Asian hormet threat, and further discussion of what could be done to counter it.

For the newbies within the club, Tim lead a session of assembling hive boxes and frames on March 16th, and then for our April meeting we had a talk by Jean Mozley from Folkstone on swarm control from a commercial perspective n which she extolled the simplicity of removing the queen to a nucleus hive for swarm control and introduced some concepts entirely new to us, such as "queen banking".

At one of our regular hive inspections one of the hives was found to be doing poorly with bad case of sacbrood, so we performed a shook swarm on this followed by changing the queen.

Light and dark entries at the honey show...
...all sorts of mead and honey drinks...
...cakes and biscuits..
...and wax products
Andy receives his trophy for best in show
Steve tends the barbecue
Good family fun
I'll have some more!
A diversion by the old grindstone
Photos and drawings
Even craftwork was entered
It was that big!
Sara Robb mixes the soap mixture
James needs a bit of help with the recipe
Got to get just the right amount!
Everyone's interested except the dog!
Hornet eating birds on Amy's hive!
Kazem,Patrick & James receive their Basic Certificates
Steve's certificate...
....Paul gets his....
..and Tim
Everyone...
....has a go....
..at making candles
Celebrations after the AGM
An unsuccessful attempt to preserve anonymity!
A few of the garden work party
Strimming the grass
The toilets get a much needed clean up!
James tends the fire