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Final WINTER CLUSTER – Tuesday 21 March 2017 at The Star, Congesbury at noon

The final WINTER CLUSTER of the season will bring us back to where we started in October

That is: The  Star in Congresbury on Tuesday 21st March – at noon.

Once again all are welcome as we prepare for the honey season 2017.

Pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.

Asian Hornet trap

It is vitally important that Beekeepers monitor for the presence of the Asian hornet in their area.  This is particularly true in our area due to the local sightings in 2016.

A link has been provided to assist with identificaiton with an Asian Hornet: Vespa velutina (Asian Hornet) identification.

The following link provides details to make a simple and effective Asina Hornet trap: Asia Hornet Trap Mk2

Beekeeping Year – March

Things to do this month:-

  • Ensure beekeeping clothing is clean and ready for use
  • Go to Branch apiary practice meetings
  • Take Modules
  • Go to Avon AGM (Bath host this year)
  • Plan shopping list for the year and consider visiting Stoneleigh
  • First quick inspection
    • Prepare to wash/replace gloves if diseased/ dead hive found
    • Have a bucket of dilute washing soda handy to clean tools and gloves etc. between colonies
    • Look for 3+ frames of brood & 5+ frames of bees
    • Ensure eggs and or open brood
    • Talk to Mentor if not happy
    • Ensure enough food for 2+ Weeks (~10 lbs)
    • Remove mouse guards
    • Records
  • Count mite fall each 2 weeks ( less than 4/day and you are OK)

Avon Beekeepers Association – 43nd Annual General Meeting – 11 March 2017 at 2pm at Flax Bourton

Members of Avon Beekeepers Association are invited to the 43nd Annual General Meeting
Come and join the dancing bees – more than just an AGM
Hosted by North Somerset Beekeepers (formerly Blagdon, Clevedon and District) Branch
At 2.00 pm on Saturday 11th March 2017 at Flax Bourton Hall, Old Weston Rd, Long Ashton, Bristol BS48 1UR.
Guest Speaker – Jim Vivian – Griffiths (Master Beekeeper) “The Dancing Bees”
His talk deals with the history of research into the waggle dance and how the dance is interpreted. Looking at the major scientists who have researched into this subject, and the uses and benefits we have gained from this knowledge
Tea will be served before the AGM’s business to commence at 3.45pm – ends 4.30

New Scientist article on Clever Little Bees

Please use the following link to view the New Scientist article on bee intelligence: Clever Little Bees



Please note the March event will be “Mead Making” presented by Susan Carter on 18 March at 2pm. at Churchill Memorial Hall, Ladymead Lane, Churchill, North Somerset, BS25 5NH.

A copy of the Events Programme for 2017 can be found on the Events Programme tab at the top of the website.

Out Apiary – Site For Bee Hive

Name:  Penny Owen


Phone number:  07748 271813

Message:  Hi I live in Tickenham and have a small orchard on my land. I was wandering if you have anyone who would like use this orchard to put a Bee Hive in it.

Beekeeping Year – February

Things to do this month:-

  • Read and study
  • Watch the bees for pollen intake
  • Plants (Crocus, Salix, Viburnum, Blackthorn….)
  • Consider stimulating by feeding
  • Watch for dead hives (varroosis)
  • Tidy up the apiary whilst the bees are not flying much
  • Clean (& repaint) varroa monitoring boards

Honey on Burns’ Night

On 25th January twenty three beekeepers gathered together on a very cold evening at Kenn Village Hall. Stephen Brain was running a course on honey and how to calibrate and use a refractometer.

The first part of the talk was about what the properties of honey are and what substances it contains. Stephen then explained why it is very important to extract, bottle and store honey very carefully. Temperature and levels of humidity in the environment during all these processes can affect the quality of the honey in the jar.

Stephen had asked if we could bring along a small sample of honey if we had some, and a refractometer if we owned one.  Refractometers can measure % water content in honey. We had a great time testing our refractometers and realised that different refractometers could give slightly different readings from the same honey sample. They weren’t too far out however, but gave everyone an idea where their own refractometer was reading compared to others in the group.

Then the real fun started. We had a honey competition. Everyone’s honey was rated by each person in the group for eg. clarity, colour, aroma and taste just as a honey judge might do at a honey show. It’s all very subjective of course, but it was surprising how we had similar ideas about each honey sample and just how different they all were.  They were all delicious though. One of the group, however, had brought along a sample of shop bought honey and placed it on  the judging table without saying anything of its origin. It certainly was as clear as crystal and a sort of yellow colour but there was very little if any aroma and its taste was, we all decided ……well awful.  Its source was revealed. A mix of EU and non EU honeys. Say no more!

It was a very successful evening. Thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. We certainly learned a lot. I hope Stephen can run another course on honey and refractometers. I am sure it will be popular.

Many thanks, Stephen

Beekeeping Year – January

Here’s what you should be doing this month:-

  • Clean and prepare spare equipment (Supers, Nuc boxes, Replacement brood frames, Spare brood boxes, Queen excluders)
  • Plan your activities for the year (Increase, maximise honey crop, queen replacement, queen rearing, new techniques)
  • Attend all branch meetings
  • Read some beekeeping books
  • Consider taking some assessments (Basic, Husbandry, Modules esp. Mod 3)
  • Heft your hives
  • Watch for staining at entrance
  • Expect some dead bees by hive
  • Emergency feeding (candy, syrup, frame feeders)
  • Must have Open Mesh Floors; screens can be removed
  • No work on varroa control

(Reproduced from “The Beekeeping Year” by Ivor Davis on the ABKA website)

Beekeeping Year – December

Things to do this month:-

  • Relax
  • Enjoy beekeeping from outside the hive
  • Drink some mead if you have it.
    • Treat colonies with Oxalic acid, once and when minimal brood present

    • Monitor total mite fall (~2-300)

Woodwork for your Bees: Building and Innovating – February and March 2017

We are running another workshop over 4 sessions in February and March. These offer the opportunity to construct equipment for your apiary. The sessions will be led by Steve Willmott at the Tithe Barn in Nailsea on Thursday evenings on 2nd and 16th of February , and 2nd and 16th of March, between 7.30pm and 9.30pm.

Session 1 and 2 – Constructing a Nuc (Commercial, National and National 14 x 12)

Session 3  – Making a multi-purpose crown board which can be used as a clearer or a Snelgrove board

Session 4 – How to innovate. This session will cover other pieces of equipment you may find useful to make. Steve will also be demonstrating a number of ‘cunning’ plans he has.

There are 12 places and the cost will be £35/head. This covers cost of wood and the hire of the hall. You will be expected to bring tools etc. You will be expected to treat/preserve the completed articles, as appropriate, after the course.

If you would like to join the group, please click on the following link: WOODWORKING  (places allocated on first come basis) selecting the type of Nuc you would like to make. Payment can be by CHEQUE, ON LINE BANK TRANSFER (Lloyds Bank / Sort Code 30-99-51 / Account No 01839153. Make sure you put your “Name+Wood” as the reference: eg. SMITH+WOOD) or CASH

Rob Francis  Tel: 01275 462914  Mobile: 07979 298518

AGM – 19 November 2016 – Churchill Memorial Hall – 2pm



You are invited to attend the branch Annual General Meeting which will be held at Churchill Memorial Hall, Churchill at 2pm on 19th November 2016.  AGM papers can be obtained on this link: AGMPapers.  The North Somerset Beekeepers’ accounts for the year ending 31 October 2016 can be viewed using this link: ACCOUNTS2016.

The following positions on the committee are coming up for election. Please consider volunteering to join our friendly committee, which involves bi-monthly meetings usually in a Backwell pub:

  • Chair – currently Garry Packer
  • President – currently David Welham
  • Secretary – currently Janet McCulloch, who is willing to support a successor
  • Members without portfolio – currently Paddy Brading, Jane Boss and Ian Cooper

If you are interested in volunteering for any of the above posts and wish to discuss them, please contact the current officer or me by email. Role descriptions are available for these positions.

Renewing your membership: You will have the opportunity to renew your membership at the AGM, a revised form requests permission to share limited contact details with the BBKA and other North Somerset branch members

Beekeeping Year – November

Here’s what you should be doing this month:-

  • Go on holiday
  • Study for BBKA exams
  • Go to Branch AGM
  • Clean up apiary
  • Clean tools and equipment
  • Sell surplus honey
  • Leave bees alone


(Reproduced from “The Beekeeping Year” by Ivor Davis on the ABKA website)


Club member Keren P. has apiary equipment to sell (click on each item to view equipment) – Contact Keren on

Deep national hive and 4 supers for sale: £50.00 / Honey extraction equipment: £35.00 /Rhombus board: £10.00

Newsletter – Issue 75 October 2016

Sadly Jan Davis has decided to give up editing the branch newsletter after 16 years. That is some achievement and she has performed wonders with our little snippets of news in producing regular attractive and informative publications.  For her swansong she has produced not one but two newsletters! The second is full of photos and news from our past.  On this page they are available as:

Issue75 Oct2016 (1.3mB) OR Synopsis: Previous Issues (6.9mB) OR Issue75 Oct2016 + Synopsis (7.5mB)


I’ve been approached by a couple of branch members who expressed an interest in taking one of the modules. I have suggested that Module 1 (Honey bee Management) is a good one to start with. Details can be found at:

The self study groups make their own arrangements, follow the syllabus, study as a group and if desired use the correspondence course designed by the BBKA to go with the module.

We only need four or five interested participants. There are people in the branch who can pass on their experience of working as a self study group once you’ve set yourselves up.

If you would be interested can you let me know and I’ll set up an initial meeting.

Rob Francis Education Coordinator

To contact Rob Francis, use the “CONTACT US” tab on the top right hand side of this website.


Vespa velutina or the Asian hornet, also known as the yellow legged hornet, is native to Asia and was confirmed for the first time in Lot-et-Garonne in the South West of France in 2004. It was thought to have been imported in a consignment of pottery from China and it quickly established and spread to many regions of France. The hornet preys on honeybees, Apis mellifera harming beekeeping activities. It has also altered the biodiversity in regions where it is present and is potentially deadly to allergic people. All beekeepers should remain vigilant and be on the look out for it in their apiaries.  For identification use the following links: Asian Hornet (2 sheet poster).

An Asian hornet have been identified north of the Mendip hills

If you think you have seen an Asian hornet, please notify the Great British Non Native Species Secretariat alert email address at immediately. Additionally, you can report sightings on their website. As well as this function, the website provides a great deal of information about the wide ranging work that is being done to tackle invasive species and tools to facilitate those working in this area.


BeeConnected – Spray Liaison

A new web-based crop spray alerting system, BeeConnected, linking farmers and beekeepers, has gone live across the UK.

A new web­based crop spray alerting system, BeeConnected, linking farmers and beekeepers, has gone live across the UK.

The BBKA’s Tim Lovett told Radio 4s Farming Today “ It’s ironic that the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides has meant that farmers have had to revert to older chemical formulas which are sprayed.”

Alerts from farmers will tell beekeepers when spraying is happening up to a maximum of 5km from their hives, the crop being sprayed and the compound being applied. The beekeeper will receive an email allowing them to take mitigating action such as moving their hives or shutting the bees in for a short while. Tim Lovett said: “ The system is essentially anonymous but if the two sides want to come together they can do so. For example a farmer could say ‘Hey I am growing some borage, any beekeepers want to bring their bees to pollinate for me?’ So it could start quite a useful conversation there as well.” BeeConnected is a joint venture under the Voluntary Initiative between the BBKA, the National Farmers Union and the Crop Protection Association. The BeeConnected website will also allow beekeepers to read the approved manufacturers’ information on the compound and whether or not it is associated with a bee alert being known to harm bees.” Current best agricultural practice, as advocated by farm assurance schemes and the UK code of practice for pesticide use, requires that the beekeeper notification takes place 48 hours before spraying to minimise the risk to bees.

Beekeepers should go to:

Winscombe Michaelmas Fair 10 September 2016 – Report by Adrian Wells

Another successful show at Winscombe, and as ever a good turn out by the village, despite the weather, although maybe not as many braved the grey as in previous years.

It is always good to see the smiling faces, some amazed at seeing the observation hive for the first time, or learning something astonishing about bees, lights switching on as we put things into context, some we remind of their youth and memories of relations that kept bees. These shows are important, not just as part of the local social fabric, but they help us as a charitable organization to fulfil our remit to educate. Making one person smile, or stop and think ‘wow!’ is a pretty good indication of success.

Many thanks to David Capon for his Stirling work in setting up the observation hive, and of course for his judging. Quite a few entrants kept David busy and helped to spoil his appetite after he’d munched his way through a reasonable quantity of honey, cake, biscuit and fudge! Congratulations to everyone who won prizes, especially Belinda K. who did well in most categories.

I would like to embarrass everyone who helped to set up and work on the stand, by thanking them publicly here; and so in no particular order (I hope I haven’t missed anyone), many thanks to the following for giving up your time, David W, Eric S, John P, Martin G, Paddy B, Rob W, Belinda K.& Wendy W., and a get well message to Heather P who couldn’t make it. These shows are a great way to talk to and educate the public about these amazing insects, and we can’t do it without our members giving a hand.

If you’ve not helped on one of our stands before, I would urge you to give it a go, it’s huge fun and even complete novices can have a great input.

Adrian Wells

PRACTICAL BEEKEEPING –Improvers course leading to Basic Certificate (2017)

We are running this basic course again in the new year. It is designed for those who have been keeping bees for a year or two and leads to a Basic Certificate.
Details about what we cover can be found at:

The course will be run over 7 sessions on Mondays fitted in between January and April taking place between 7.30 and 9.15pm at The Rising Sun in Backwell starting on Monday 9th January 2017.

The course is ideal for those who, having kept bees for one or two years, wish to expand, extend and consolidate their knowledge and skills of beekeeping.
The course fee is £20 and includes the cost of all course materials. Needless to say it is subsidised by the branch and is open to any member from the Avon Beekeepers Association.

If you would like to sign up for the course or would like further information could you contact me, Rob Francis, (educational coordinator) at or phone 01275 462914 or 07970 298518

Introduction to Beekeeping Course 2017

Please book your places for our popular Introduction to Beekeeping Course which starts 17th January 2017 at Churchill Memorial Hall and runs over 10 Tuesday evenings until 21 March 2017.  Course Fee £95.  The course is always oversubscribed so if you have friends and family keen to take up beekeeping ensure they book a place now.  For more details and to book the course, click on this link: COURSE2017

For further information, email the Course Secretary Paddy Brading:

Hiring the Club Honey Extractors

Club extractors can be hired by Club members.  The cost is £5 for a 4 day period.  The extractors will be supplied clean and must be returned clean to our Honey Extractor Manager.
There are currently 3 Club extractors – we have just acquired a new four frame extractor, uncapping trays and filter buckets.
The extractors must be collected from the Honey Extractor Manager and returned on time and clean.
Please email: