Somerset BKA has awarded its most prestigious honour to Fred Horne from Yeovil Division.
The West Country Honey Farms Award is presented annually to the Somerset member judged by a panel of three previous winners to have made the greatest contribution to beekeeping in the county.
Up until now the award has been presented at the AGM but Fred is having to make-do with a photo of the trophy until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Fred, who first opened a hive in 1952, is a former Vice Chairman of Somerset BKA (1985-86), served as Chairman (1987-1989), is a Vice President (elected in 1990) and an Honorary Member since 2010.
He has been an active member of Yeovil Division since he joined in 1976 (when it was known as the Southern Division). Within two years he became Treasurer, holding the post for three years before taking on the role of Secretary for a further seven years. He has been a valued and loyal member of his Divisional Committee for almost the entire period of his membership. His most recent office was that of Divisional President (1999-2017).
In the citation for nomination it says: “For all the current membership Fred has always been there. Modest in mind and the epitome of a skillful mentor, Fred offers a master class example of how to communicate. Good mentors, like good teachers, are rare to find but he certainly fits the category well. His empirical knowledge of bees, inspires, encourages and motivates. Not one for gaining qualifications and post nominals, Fred made you think logically, rationally and reminded us that bees are doing what they want to do (usually for good reason) and that we need sometimes to just watch and listen and sometimes leave them to it. Fred, like some other rare individuals, has clearly mastered the art of communicating during his career as a teacher and is able to effectively impart his knowledge at a level commensurate to both the individual and the complexity of the question.
“Many of the Division's new members now realise the value of having Fred as their mentor and have appreciated the knowledge and passion that he has been able to transfer. Many inexperienced beekeepers have learned much, and more importantly, limited the potential damage that could have been done to their precious bees by seeking his counsil. By having this sound knowledge base available, either in person, or at the end of a telephone, their beekeeping has improved considerably.
“To quote a relatively new member: "It has been a privilege to know and seek the President's advice at times when apiculture was proving demanding and each and every time his wise and thoughtful words made sense and clarified the mire. The value and importance of a skilled mentor should never be underestimated".
“Fred stopped keeping his own bees a few years ago and has now stepped down as Divisional President. However, he has not really retired as he is still available to provide advice to the less knowledgeable and experienced members of the Division.”
South West Asian hornet action teams are launching an Asian Hornet Spring Watch publicity campaign over Easter. They are calling on the public to get involved.
Somerset’s AHAT coordinator Lynne Ingram said: “Lockdown means that people will be spending more time in their gardens and on walks around their neighbourhood this Easter.
“We would like people to look for Asian hornets on flowers such as camellias, trees that ooze sap and in sheltered spots like sheds and porches while keeping within government guidelines in relation to Covid-19.”
Asian hornets have distinctive orange faces and yellow tipped legs and are smaller than the bright yellow striped European hornet.
“If anyone sees an insect they think is an Asian hornet, check it out on the Asian Hornet Watch app which has an identification guide and lets you send in your sightings.”
Beekeepers and conservationists hope to mobilise support from all over the region to prevent the destructive insects getting established in the UK where they will decimate populations of pollinating insects and honeybees.
“Given the many pressures on our precious pollinators, including climate change, habitat destruction and pesticide use, it’s vital we do all we can to support them by reporting sightings.”
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association has many useful ID materials on its website including a children’s colouring-in sheet. https://www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk/resources.html
Asian hornets are a notifiable invasive species and should be reported immediately, preferably with a photo using:
Notes to editors:
Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) are slightly smaller than native European hornets and look like large black wasps with an orange face and yellow legs:
A single Asian hornet can kill 50 bees a day, with a nest containing up to 6,000 workers and up to 350 queens.
In Jersey, France and large areas of Western Europe they are stripping the environment bare of insects before moving on to prey on managed honeybee colonies.
Asian hornets are a notifiable invasive species and should be reported immediately with photo using:
Somerset BKA's Asian hornet action team co-ordinator Lynne Ingram is urging us all to start monitoring for Asian hornets:
"We're approaching the time when Asian hornet queens will be emerging from hibernation – when the temperature is consistently reaching 13 deg C – and so we need to be monitoring for their presence.
We don’t know if there are any Asian hornet queens over-wintering in the UK this year, or whether any mated queens will make their way into the UK post-hibernation. But we need to be prepared.
We strongly recommend the use of monitoring stations, rather than killing traps. This allows us to get the evidence of Asian hornets that we need, without killing our native beneficial insects, in particular European hornets.
Asian hornet queens will be searching for sugary foods to build up their energy, not preying on your bees. This means that all monitoring stations need to be positioned where you cannot help but see them and where you can easily check them daily - e.g. outside the kitchen window, or in a sunny spot in your garden. All beneficial insects must be released from monitoring stations daily.
From mid-May Asian hornet queens will be mainly in their nests and so monitoring stations can be removed.
We are recommending the adaptation of Thorne's traps to include the wick stations inside. This allows wasps and small flies to escape. (See photos above).
Use Suterra (now sold as Trappit wasp attractant). Get this from your AHAT Team leader if restrictions allow (keep yourself and others safe and comply with government guidelines) or buy online (Pestfix.co.uk sells smaller bottles).
If you cannot get it due to current restrictions try one of these French recipes:
• Dark beer mixed with 25ml strawberry dessert sauce and 25ml orange liqueur
• 350ml sweet white wine (or white wine sweetened with sugar) + 20-30ml mint syrup
Please also observe any flowers where Asian hornet queens may be feeding. Any trees that may be oozing sap are also very attractive to queens in Spring. Being confined to our homes at the moment gives us the ideal opportunity to spend time monitoring for Asian hornets.
From the August onwards, Asian hornet workers may be found preying on your bees, so monitoring stations may also be hung in your apiaries. Again, we need to be monitoring regularly so that we protect our beneficial insects, and so that we have live samples that could be tracked if necessary. Please register your monitoring stations in apiaries on BeeBase.
What to use
• Monitoring stations as above
• Open bait stations – plastic tray with screwed up kitchen roll, a stone and your liquid bait. Ideally protect these from rain - on a bird table
In the Autumn Asian hornet workers can be observed on fallen and growing fruit and on ivy plants, where they will often be seen taking prey. Males and new queens will be produced in the late Autumn and males can be seen feeding on flowers. This is a crucial time to spot Asian Hornets as it is important to find any nests before the queens emerge and go into hibernation. Observe plants, fruit and also around your apiary.
If you think you have seen an Asian Hornet:
• Get a photo (or sample)
• If you are not sure or are struggling to get evidence contact your local Asian Hornet Action Team – email@example.com
• If you are sure and you have evidence, then report on the Asian Hornet Watch App or on firstname.lastname@example.org – and to your local AHAT.
Due to current restrictions please make sure that you keep yourself safe and comply with government guidelines. Check BBKA website for updates on how this relates to beekeepers."
Three hives complete with bees and their hive stands were stolen from Pat Rich’s apiary near Chilcompton sometime between March 1 and March 20. They were taken from a fenced and gated (locked) apiary out of sight of the road from within a field which itself was fenced and securely gated.
The hives are nationals in red cedar and each had a small circular metal disk marked ‘Wansdyke Precision Engineering’. These will probably have been removed but may have left behind a small darker or lighter circle.
If anyone is offered hives similar to this, we’d be grateful if you could let me (07555 966 964) or Pat know at email@example.com
Mark Hitchens, Secretary, Mendip Division.
Image copyright: Véto-pharma
This is the first in a series of educationally-based articles written by Master Beekeeper Tricia Nelson from Quantock Division.
The end of one beekeeping season and the start of another; time to reflect on what happened this year and what you want to do next. What went well for your bees? What didn’t? What might be worth trying next year? So, what sticks out in my recollections of the year which might be of interest to you?
We have all learned that bees walk uphill into dark spaces. Hence smoking swarms up into skeps, tucking your trousers in your socks and covering your wrists so they don’t walk up your trousers and sleeves. Some of us have shaken a swarm out onto a sheet arranged over a sloping board leading up to a new hive and watched them slowly processing into the hive and how they surge up and in once the queen enters. However, seeing exactly the same behaviour in response to a rhythmic and persistent tapping on the sides of the skep with no smoke used at all was extraordinary. It was so quick, almost instantaneous. I hope you enjoy the videos and the photos.
Saving the brood comb
I thought this was an extremely useful technique to learn, very difficult in the hot conditions facing David during his demo, but particularly useful if you have do a cut out when retrieving a swarm, so perhaps it is worth keeping a few strung frames, a flat board and a knife on standby for just such occasions!
At the start of Asian hornet week (Sept 9-15) Somerset Beekeepers Association has published a suite of Asian hornet resources we've produced and are happy to share.
Meanwhile our Asian hornet actions teams are busy following up on reports from local people. For example, in the Minehead and Exmoor area there have been several unconfirmed sightings which the local AHAT is investigating.
Our Asian hornet roadshow rolls into Taunton's Farmers Market on Thursday & Somerset County Show on September 21-22.
The NBU found and destroyed an Asian hornet nest in Tamworth, Staffordshire last week. In Jersey they have caught 69 queens and discovered 54 nests so far this year. While here in Somerset we haven't had a confirmed sighting yet but fear it is just a question of time.
If you spot an Asian hornet, perhaps feeding on flowering ivy, take a photo and report through the Asian Hornet Watch app or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need some help, contact us direct email@example.com
Anne Rowberry, Somerset AHAT member and BBKA Vice Chair writes:
"An Asian hornet sighting was confirmed in the Tamworth area of Staffordshire on September 2, 2019. This is the first report since July, when a single hornet was confirmed in New Milton, Hampshire. In each case they were spotted and reported by a member of the public.
Since 2016, there have been a total of 15 confirmed sightings of the Asian hornet in England and six nests have been destroyed.
Nine of these sightings occurred in 2018; an individual hornet in Lancashire (April) and Hull, three in Cornwall, two in Hampshire, one in Surrey (all September) and one in Kent (October).
The risk of an active Asian hornet nest being found in the UK is negligible during the colder winter months, but higher during the summer. Asian hornets have already been spotted this year in countries close to the UK (France and Jersey) and a risk remains at all times of year of accidentally transporting an Asian hornet when returning to the UK from abroad.
It is crucial you report any possible sightings so our experts can take quick and effective action to eradicate Asian hornets."
Asian hornets are a notifiable invasive species and should be reported immediately, preferably with a photo:
Asian Hornet Watch app for iPhone
Asian Hornet Watch app for Android or
the online recording form http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to Mark and Christine Gullick from Burnham Division who were awarded the Bronze Bee for winning the most points at Bristol’s Bee and Pollination Festival on Saturday.
They beat extremely tough competition to scoop seven firsts, five seconds, three thirds and one highly commended. Next stop: the National Honey Show!
Student Amelia Threadgould, a member of Devon Beekeeping Association, is researching ecosystem services and honeybee foraging habits in rural and urban environments for a masters degree with The University of Warwick.
She is collecting data from local beekeeping associations throughout England and would welcome input from Somerset beekeepers.
The aim of the survey is to finding out what possible policy changes would be welcomed by hobbyist beekeepers, for example; subsidies, reduced tax on beekeeping equipment, funding for training etc.
She says the survey is completely anonymous and has been approved by an ethics committee. There are further details on the introduction page of the survey, along with a brief overview of the research.
BBKA General Manager Leigh Sidaway has asked us to share this info about their queen rearing courses.
The BBKA is organising courses for beekeepers, with at least three years' experience, at several venues around the country:
Somerset: August 3rd & 4th at Quantock Apiary near Bridgwater
Wales: August 10th & 11th at Gregynog Hall, Tygynon, Nr Newtown
Warwickshire: September 14th & 15th at BBKA Apiary, Stoneleigh
Cleveland: September 17th & 18th, venue to be confirmed
Details of other courses will be posted on the BBKA website when confirmed.
The whole course is focussed on the General Husbandry standard with the objective of each attendee going home able to run their queen rearing matched to their needs. It will not be prescriptive and will enable the attendees to make up their own mind about the method they would like to employ. It will not focus on grafting, although it is a method that everyone should at least have tried at some point.
The course will be theory plus time in the apiary when different methods of queen rearing will be discussed and demonstrated. There will also be several queen related manipulations, again to the General Husbandry standard.
There will be a maximum of twelve on each course and there will be two tutors. The lead tutor will be Sean Stephenson who has a lot of experience in queen raising and delivering courses.
The cost of the course will be £75 which will covers coffee, tea and biscuits but please bring a packed lunch with you. The timing for the courses will be confirmed later but will start on Saturday morning and end on Sunday afternoon.
If you would like to apply for a place on the course please apply through the website shop:
or contact the BBKA office on 02476 696679.