In loving memory of Neil Trood who sadly passed away on January 26, 2021. Neil was a loving husband to the late Jennifer, for almost 60 years. He was the loving father of Rachel, Jeremy and Timothy, and a loving Grandfather and Great Grandfather who will be sadly missed by us all.
Born and brought up in St Augustine Street Taunton, Neil was the only son of Bert and Winifred Trood, he also had a sister, Sandra. Neil went to Priory School and then to Huish’s Grammar School before joining the Somerset County Gazette where he was to work, except for a short break in the 1980s, for his entire career. Neil had a number of roles within this time.
National Service in the RAF, especially his time in Singapore and Malaya at the time of the emergency, was also to have a formative influence on him.
As a young man, he enjoyed amateur dramatics and took part in many productions by the Taunton Thespian Society, The Taunton Operatic Society, the Liberty Players and Wellington Civic Players.
His faith played an important part in his life and he was to be Churchwarden at St George’s Ruishton, St Peter’s Staple Fitzpaine and Holy Trinity Taunton over a period of fifty years. During his time at Ruishton, he directed and stage managed a production of The Passion Play, enlisting members of the community as actors. Neil together with Jenny enjoyed trips to Rome, Spain and the Holy Land. They visited the shrine of our lady of Walsingham several times.
In 1978 he took up beekeeping. Enthusiastic as ever he joined Taunton Beekeepers and, over the years, was to serve as Chairman, President, Representative of the division on the committee of Taunton Flower Show, and was County Honey Show Secretary for many years. Neil also represented Taunton on the council of Somerset Beekeepers' Association and the South West Beekeepers' Forum. Latterly he was a Vice President of the Association and in 2000 won the West Country Honey Farms Award for his outstanding contribution to beekeeping in Somerset. Neil and Jenny enjoyed trips to Germany and Ireland with Devon Beekeepers' Association.
Neil and Tim's bees produced sufficient honey to require an outlet. Namely the WI shop in Bath Place. Needless to say that Neil got involved with the Country Market, and was chairman for a time, he dutifully worked in the shop every week until the end of December 2019. While there he oversaw the refurbishment of the premises. Neil enjoyed going into Taunton each week, on the bus from Langport. Neil also enjoyed going to Farmers Markets around the county.
Neil was initiated into Freemasonry in Richard Huish Lodge No 8518 on 25th November 2000. He served all the progressive offices and in due course became Master of the Lodge on 22nd September 2007. Rather than taking a back seat Neil continued to serve the Lodge and was appointed Master again in 2013. In recognition of his work, he received Provincial honours in 2013, when he was appointed a Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon. He would have received promotion in the Provincial honours of April 2021.
Masonry has many degrees and Orders. As well as being a member of the Craft degree in Richard Huish Lodge, Neil was an excellent Companion on the Royal Arch degree. He was exalted on 28th February 2008 into The Chapter of St George, No 3158. Again, he served off offices and became the First Principal in May 2012 and again in May 2017. He received Provincial honours in this degree also, appointed as Past Provincial Grand Sojourner in 2015 and then promoted in 2019.
Neil had also joined Somerset First Principals' Chapter No 3746, in June 2012, just after his appointment as First Principal in The Chapter of St George.
Dad got involved wholeheartedly in many things over his lifetime. He did this with a passion to be, and to do, the very best he could in everything, a perfectionist. He spent many hours, ensuring that everything would be perfect on the day. No one thing took over, he always had time for everything he needed to do, sometimes late into the night. We all have our own special memories of him as a father and grandfather. We have been grateful for all the condolences and special memories that his many friends have shared with us at this time.
In memory of Neil, we would be grateful for donations towards the bee research project into European Foulbrood (EFB) initiated by Somerset Beekeeping Association.
EFB is a bacterial disease that kills the honey bee larvae. A particular strain of this disease is only found in Somerset and North Dorset where beekeepers are finding many cases year upon year with the recommended precautions showing no evidence of reducing the number of cases.
Neil kept honey bees since 1978 and has been a mainstay in the running of Somerset Beekeepers Association - having been a past president - and organising the County Honey Show for very many years.
He always encouraged beginners and was very keen to promote the importance of honey bees as pollinators. The survival of bees was very close to his heart and it would have been important to him that his memory is playing an important role in the future of the honey bee, particularly in the county where he was born and bred.
Donations in the form of a cheque will be gratefully received made payable to Crescent Funeral Services.
Written by Neil's family. Portrait painted by Neil's grandson Jacob
The Chairman of Somerset Beekeepers’ Association, Stewart Gould, is urging beekeepers to keep local honey bees and reject a campaign to overturn the recent ban on bee imports.“Locally bred bees are perfectly adapted for the conditions; imported bees carry the risk of pests and diseases and are genetically better suited to the country of origin,” he said.
His comments follow media coverage of the new Brexit rules which have stopped the importation of honey bee colonies directly into the UK from the EU although queen bees are still allowed.
HMRC is aware that there may be attempts to get around the import rules by using Northern Ireland as a back door but anti-avoidance measures are in place.
“The importation ban is important and avoids the risk of bringing new problems to the UK’s bees. For example, bees in many areas of the country suffer from Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus which is associated with the importation of bees. And we are worried that the small hive beetle, which is in southern Italy, could come into the country and decimate our bees.”
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association runs courses to help members to rear their own queen bees from successful colonies which ensures they are adapted to the conditions in their own area.
Patrick Murfet from a beekeeping equipment company in Kent has started a petition calling on the government to reverse the new rules. That petition can be found here Petition to overturn the ban
In the interest of even handedness, you should be aware that there is a petition to uphold the ban, which can be found here
Petition to uphold the banning of bee imports
The number of beekeepers and bee colonies continues to rise in the UK; membership of the British Beekeepers’ Association stands at more than 28,000 while Somerset’s is topping a record 1,200.
Stewart Gould, Chairman
David Charles was one of Somerset BKA's most illustrious members and he will be sorely missed by his many friends in the beekeeping community here and across the UK.
His list of achievements is long and distinguished and included serving as President of the BBKA. His beekeeping friendships over the last 60 plus years spanned a who's who of latter day beekeeping giants including LE Snelgrove and Rex Sawyer.
He was a passionate beekeeper, communicator and teacher; he launched BBKA News and edited it for several years and wrote for BeeCraft magazine. He twice served as President of Somerset BKA, was a Vice President, a member of Somerton Division and wrote an excellent history of Somerset beekeeping (Somerset Beekeepers and Beekeeping Associations: A History, 1875-2005).
He was instrumental in the formation of South West Beekeepers’ Forum (which provides a forum for consultation on matters of concern and interest to beekeepers from across the region). He served two terms as chairman and was one of Somerset’s delegates until very recently.
Beekeeping accolades included being awarded the 1972 Wax Chandlers’ prize as the best national candidate in the BBKA exams; he was a Master Beekeeper and BBKA Honorary Member. Throughout his beekeeping career he was a keen supporter of the National Honey Show being, variously, a competitor, committee member, honey judge and, more recently, a supporter and visitor. He was a teacher and on retirement became the county's beekeeper adviser at Cannington.
In 2019 David gave up active beekeeping and his final public appearance was in late 2020 when he talked to Anne Pike, former SBKA chairman, in a BeeCraft Cameo video reminiscing about how he started beekeeping.
David was very good company, a hugely knowledgeable mentor and a lively contributor on Facebook.
David’ funeral was held in St John's Church, Glastonbury on January 15, 2021.
The news this week that Defra has granted a derogation for farmers to use the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet in 2021 has caused uproar amongst many beekeepers and environmentalists.
Somerset BKA Chairman Stewart Gould told the local news: “We know that the intended derogation of neonicotinoid use is for a limited period and is to be used on sugar beet seed, a plant which is harvested before it flowers, and one that doesn’t attract bees, but systemic neonicotinoids, thiomethoxam in this case, are not selective, and are poisonous to all insects, threatening bees and all other pollinators in particular. “
One third of food is dependent on insect pollination and in the UK insects pollinate 70 types of crop – strawberries to cabbages.
Dave Goulson – Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and author of bestselling titles including ‘A Sting in the Tale’ – has responded to the news with a blog.
There is also a debate planned for Tuesday, 19 January https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/events/wild_live_bee-pesticides
European Foulbrood (EFB) has been a problem in Somerset for a number of years with some beekeepers having colonies being infected year after year. Taking all the advice on offer from the National Bee Unit (NBU) about cleanliness and not mixing equipment has not stopped these repeats.
Then a few years ago some NBU research into EFB found from their data that there were difference strains of EFB, some more prevalent than others. But it was interesting that the strain in Somerset and north Dorset was not found anywhere else in the country. Why?
Now EFB is the most prevalent bacterial brood disease in England and Wales with up to 350 cases each year and, in some years, Somerset had the dubious honour of leading the way with the highest number of cases. Somerset and north Dorset contain a dense cluster of highly related M. plutonius sequence type 2 (ST2). ST2 has been associated with this part of the country for at least 10 years with very few outbreaks of other sequence types.
Somerset BKA wanted to see if they could help to move this research forward and find out why this was the case. So two years ago they started discussions with NBU about supporting more research specifically into this strain. There have been some delays along the way, with funding systems changing, staff at NBU changing and then Professor Giles Budge, who had worked on the original research, offered to help.
Along with Bee Diseases Insurance Ltd, Somerset BKA will be financially supporting a PhD student over the next four years. The student will investigate this local EFB cluster using modern molecular methods in an attempt to improve the understanding of disease transmission and to try to understand why this disease cluster is so persistent in the area.
Dr Ed Haynes at Fera has developed a bioinformatics pipeline to sequence genomes of the causal agent of EFB, Melissococcus plutonius. Hollie Pufel at Newcastle University is the PhD student who will refine this protocol and then use it to assess transmission events using Somerset as the case study.
Hollie will be working with beekeepers across Somerset as well as with the NBU Bee Health Inspectors to improve disease local control measures. Her supervisor will be Professor Giles Budge.
The work will start this autumn so, if you are contacted, please give Hollie all the help and information that she needs. Then we hope her work will be able to help beekeepers in Somerset deal with this strain of EFB.
Sharon Blake, Somerset BKA Executive Member and BDI Treasurer
[first published in SBKA's October newsletter]
Asian hornet awareness week is an excellent reminder to look out for the non native and highly destructive hornets when in the garden and out and about: check flowers, ivy, in wasp traps and fallen fruits.
At this time of year Asian Hornet nests are growing bigger and there are many hungry mouths to feed. This means that if we have any Asian Hornets in the UK, they will be out and about collecting food, and are more visible. They can be spotted feeding on flowers, on the ivy once it is out, and also on fallen fruit. They can also be spotted near beehives, where they will try and catch honey bees as they return to the hive full of nectar. Asian Hornets look like a big wasp, but are mainly black with orangey yellow faces, and a broad orangey yellow band across the base of the abdomen. The bottom part of the legs is yellow.
If you spot what you think is an Asian Hornet please Take A Photo, then report it through the FREE AsianHornetWatch app. If it is an Asian Hornet then someone will come to check it out for you. If you are not sure what it is, Take A Photo anyway. You can compare the photos on the app with what you have seen.
If you need help with this contact your local Asian Hornet Team https://www.bbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-action-team-map.
For Somerset contact firstname.lastname@example.org
On August 7 and in his 80th year, Somerset Beekeepers’ Association lost an outstanding member and vice-president who had kept bees and been involved with the beekeeping scene, man and boy. David’s name first appears in the yearbook for 1959 as a member of Somerton and District Division but he commenced beekeeping prior to this. He was probably the last surviving member to have met the renowned L. E. Snelgrove.
The family lived in Charlton Mackrell and David’s father, George, was divisional secretary. David became a very skilled beekeeper and teacher who was always willing to share his knowledge and experience with others. He learnt the craft not only from his father but also from Fred Sparks, who lived and operated from the Quarry apiary at Charlton Mackrell and where David, as a youth, spent much of his time.
David became a primary school teacher in Taunton and was keen to interest his pupils in beekeeping too. He was proud of the fact that one of his pupils was William Kirk, now Professor of Applied Biology at Keele University. It was at junior school that William Kirk, so keen on butterflies added bees and other insects to his list of interests. Later in his professional life David became a deputy headmaster but eventually he was seconded and became the regional executive officer for the National Union of Teachers.
In adult life, David, with his family, lived in Taunton and later at Halse, a few miles west of Taunton. I first met David through exhibiting honey. There were many shows in those days, nearly fifty years ago. David was a leading showman and took many prizes for honey and other products. He ceased showing when he had accumulated one thousand prize cards.
The highlight of David’s showing was in 1971 and 1972 when he won the prestigious “Bristol Silver Queen” which is one of the finest and most valuable trophies in this country.
He also wrote articles on various beekeeping topics for the now defunct British Bee Journal.
Over time David became a prominent member of the Taunton and District Division, playing a major role in teaching, demonstrating and generally being involved in helping other beekeepers. He was President of the division between 2011 and 2014. For many years he was editor of the divisional newsletter called Beelines and edited one hundred editions before passing on the role. As archivist he ensured that the Division’s past was guarded and that documents were deposited with the South West Heritage Trust, Norton Fitzwarren, where many of the Association’s records are held. With his background knowledge of the association and particularly with regard to the Heatherton Park apiary he provided me with information that helped me compile a complete history of our association for its centenary. He was also on the team that assembled our centenary exhibition at the Somerset Rural Life Museum.
David was one of Taunton Division’s delegates to Somerset BKA Council and made valuable contributions particularly on matters of procedure and played a major part in the revision of our constitution. David was one of a small team, who with Gerald Fisher created the Association’s first website. It was entered in the website competition at Apimondia, held in Dublin in 2005. It took first prize and David received the medal on the association’s behalf.
David, at one time, ran a large number of hives and worked closely with his old friend Milns Priscott, another lifelong beekeeper, and with Jeff Tinson. They co-operated in their beekeeping, especially on such tasks as taking their bees to the heather and with the extracting. I was once with a party who visited their impressive heather site at Weir Water Valley, near Oare on Exmoor.
In 2017 David received a certificate from the British Beekeepers’ Association in recognition of sixty years of beekeeping and contribution to the craft. It was presented by the then chairman of BBKA, Margaret Murdin at our spring lecture day.
Over all this time David’s input and achievements were vast.
Members of Somerset Beekeepers’ Association extend their condolences to David’s wife, Ann, and to Jonathan and Sandra, their son and daughter.
David Charles, Past President of SBKA
The lock down series of webinar lectures was originally envisaged as live and interactive - bringing beekeepers together to watch speakers giving practical tips or discussing their research in the field of apiculture.
However, we’ve received so many requests to view recordings that we have started to upload those that we have to the members-only section of this website (click here to go there). But note that these recordings are literally as-live – technical difficulties/clap for carers/tea breaks and all.
Not all speakers give us permission to record their talks and for some the technical issues are just too distracting. To date we have Eleanor and Rosemary Burgess talking about swarming and David Evans about rational varroa control.
Over time we plan to add to this library and hope you can take a look if you miss a lecture or want to revisit one.
At this time of year, Asian Hornet primary nests are building up in size, and the amount of workers will be rapidly increasing, says our AHAT co-ordinator Lynne Ingram.
Primary nests are generally in sheltered low level places – maybe in a shed, a low bush, hedge or in a bramble patch. As the nest increases in size, the colony may outgrow this location, and 70 per cent of them will relocate to a secondary nest that they develop in a much higher and inaccessible position – often in a tree. For about a month, the two nests will continue to function in parallel until the larvae in the primary nest have all emerged.
As we move towards mid to end of summer, the number of workers in the nests increases hugely and they will start to become more visible if they are in your area. Keep your eyes peeled for the sight of an Asian hornet in your garden or around your bee hives. Continue to monitor any traps in your garden or apiary. If you think you have spotted an Asian Hornet then take a photo so that we have some evidence of it. If you are sure, then report it through the Asian Hornet Watch app. If you are not sure, or need help identifying an insect or getting a photo, then contact your local Asian Hornet Team Coordinator or email: email@example.com
Asian Hornet Watch app for iPhone
Asian Hornet Watch app for Android
SBKA’s Chair Stewart Gould writes in July’s newsletter that beekeeping is experiencing its own ‘impending pandemic virus’:
“CBPV has been with us for a while now, and is even mentioned in Ted Hooper’s Guide to Bees and Honey. My copy was published in 2008, and has a whole page on the subject of Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus. What differs between opinion in 2008 and the present day is that we no longer think of CBPV as being associated with acarine, and it can certainly be more virulent and deadly than as described by Ted Hooper. ‘With this type of paralysis the colonies are often very little affected and seem to be able to breed fast enough to keep the population up. From the literature, however, it is clear that many cases have occurred where colonies with paralysis have dwindled badly or died out entirely’. There has been a considerable upsurge in the number of cases in the last 2 or 3 years, with many experienced beekeepers reporting that they have only come across it in that time period. It can’t really be blamed on acarine anymore, as the treatments (miticides) which we use to attack varroa will also knock out acarine, as they are both mites. There are two distinct forms of CBPV, in type one, bees are found crawling outside the hive, on nearby plants, and have bloated, elongated abdomens with partially spread or dislocated wings. It can be serious with the colony succumbing completely, but what Ted Hooper didn’t do was separate out the two forms of the disease. Type two CBPV is, in the early stages, spotted when black greasy looking bees are spotted on the frames, and it can stop right there, but if it progresses, which it seems to be doing increasingly, bees will be seen trembling on the top bars of frames. If that wasn’t enough to grab your attention, the black greasy bees, as seen in the photo, which appear to be smaller because they are virtually hairless, will also be present, and you may soon notice bees trembling on the landing board, if you have one, or around the entrance, as in this video click here. Other bees will nibble at them, as if removing the hairs. Perhaps the most disconcerting evidence is a large pile of dead bees which may well appear immediately beneath the entrance. There could be hundreds and hundreds.
Where did CBPV come from? It’s been here a good while, but present thinking is that it has been exacerbated by the increase of imported queens. There are varying reports on how much it affects the queens, but it is most obvious in adult workers, possibly because there are more of them than anything else, and the brood doesn’t seem to be affected at all. Bees are social insects, and when out and about, will greet each other by touching antennae, or make contact with their proboscises. Any virus would easily be transmitted from one to the other.
Like Covid 19, we have no treatment for CBPV, as anything strong enough to kill the virus, would kill the bee – at present. We all know a littler bit more about viruses these days, and the best advice so far, is to wash your hands, because soap and water can break down the outer coating of the virus. The same applies to CBPV. Practising a healthy regime in your apiaries should help to contain any outbreak you may have. Changing hive tools between hives when inspecting, and washing both the hive tool and your gloves in a washing soda solution, will minimise the risk of introduction or transmission.
It’s not all doom and gloom, some colonies do recover from CBPV. Of the six current cases I know, 3 hives have recovered, but please be mindful and keep a weather eye on your hives. CBPV can exist at a low ebb and just bumble along without
becoming a major problem (asymptomatic) – in that hive, but it can easily be passed on to other colonies, and other beekeepers’ apiaries.
It’s perhaps a little late now, but swarms can easily transmit the problem over miles at a time. Swarms have been extremely plentiful this year, but I hope you have managed to contain them, and following the reported bumper Spring crops, can look forward to an excellent main crop.”