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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)


Ivor Davis has an apiary site that he no longer uses. It belongs to Stuart Peachy who lives in Backwell but the site is off the Congresbury /Wrington road at the end of an ancient orchard. Stuart is a guy that likes to manage land as it was in medieval times so the site is good for keeping bees.

Ivor used to keep 6 hives there but has had to cut back and has not used the site for a couple of years. There is a fence to protect the site from animals and a shed there. Access is across the side of a field and most times is easily accessed in a car. When the weather is very wet you need a 4 x 4 but access is possible on foot through the field from the access track.

Rent is 12 jars of honey to Stuart each year. The map reference is 51.367627, -2.778921. Place these co-ordinates directly into Google Maps or Streetmaps (if you prefer looking at a 1/25,000
Ordnance Survey plan).

If you are interested, please email Ivor Davis on


How about studying a BBKA module?

Now that the bees are bedded down for the winter it might be a good time to think about studying for one of the modules offered by the BBKA. These modules are a great way to gain insight into all aspects of beekeeping and increase your knowledge and understanding of the ways of these fascinating insects.  There are 7 modules which can be taken in any order except module 8 which must be studied last.

Some members form a small group and meet regularly to study the syllabus but you can  study each module independently if you wish. Exams are available in March and November but are not obligatory.

Until recently, the BBKA had stipulated that you should have passed the Basic exam in beekeeping before you could enter for a module exam. That  restriction will be lifted  ‘ in late 2019 ‘

If you would like to join or form your own group and get started please contact me for more information.

Paddy Brading  Email:

Stop Press!

Margaret Myers would like to put together a group to study: Module 1   Honey Bee Management

For more information please contact Margaret  Email:

Introduction to Beekeeping Course 2019

Introduction to Beekeeping Course 2019: Use this link for details of the course and an application form: Introduction to Beekeeping Course 2019 leaflet

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)

Beekeeping Year – October

Things to do this month:-

  • Check stability of the hives
  • Reduce inspections
  • Add mouse guards and protect from wood peckers etc.
  • Heft hives and give last feed for winter
  • Monitor mite drop <10/day OK
  • >10/day (Apiguard not effective) consider Kramer plates or dusting with icing sugar

Second Asian Hornet nest destroyed in Fowey, Cornwall

A second Asian Hornet nest has been found and destroyed in Fowey, close to the first nest.

Information about this discovery, along with surveillance activities in Hull and Liskeard can be found in the following DEFRA press release using the link that follows:


An opportunity exists for an out apiary in Churchill.  Please use details below to make contact and discuss with owners:

Ros & Graham Mizen

Pye Cottage

Dinghurst Road


Tel 01934 852257

Beekeeping Year – September

Things to do this month:

  • Feed colonies that need it
  • Reduce to planned number of colonies
  • Prepare for Honey shows
  • Expect more nectar flows
  • Reduce inspections to fortnightly
  • Expect reduction in colony size and brood area
  • Remove Apiguard trays

Beekeeping Year – August

Things to do this month:-

  • Remove the supers for extraction
  • Ensure the colony is left with space to hold ~35 lbs honey
  • Extract and store honey
  • Check water content and labelling requirements
  • Clean supers (on colony and then using Certan etc.)
  • Render wax cappings etc.
  • Clean or replace dirty super frames
  • Move old brood frames to the edge of hive ready for replacement
  • Insert tray of Apiguard as soon as supers are removed add second tray after 2 weeks
  • Estimate mites removed after 4 week treatment (many 100s)

Beekeeping Year – July

Things to do this month:-

  • Continue weekly inspections
  • Watch for swarms
  • Add supers (up to 1 a week)
  • Prepare extraction equipment and storage
  • Place nucs into full hives or combine with current colonies
  • Render wax scrapings, burr comb and brace comb
  • Monitor mite drop >10/day consider treatment
  • If colony is going to produce honey only dust with icing sugar

Apiary site at Dundry


Beekeeping Year – June

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

  • Continue with inspections
  • Practice marking (and clipping) drones
  • Ensure sufficient supers for main flow
  • Extract full supers
  • Continue swarm control
  • Mate new queens
  • Collect swarms (if you know how to)

 Monitor mite drop <10 day OK (~400)

 In emergency dust with icing sugar or 1 tray of Apiguard for 2 weeks!!!

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

Monitored Asian Hornet Trap Sites

Monitoring again for 2018 – WE NEED MORE MONITORING SITES

7 current locations of daily monitored Asian Hornet Traps by North Somerset Beekeepers

Please forward an email with post code of the trap(s) to when you get your trap set up so your location can be added to the map.

Beekeeping Year – May 2017

For advice about what you should be doing with your bees in May, use this link: Advice for May 2018

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
  • Plan shopping list for the year and consider visiting BBKA Spring Convention near Telford
  • 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)

Reg Stevens – 70 years a beekeeper

Our oldest member, Reg Stevens, has sadly passed away.  He recently celebrated 70 years as a beekeeper.

In 2016, Reg was awarded the Legion d’honneur for his role in the D Day landings.  The Légion d’honneur was established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte. It is France’s highest distinction and is awarded in recognition of both military and civilian merit. On average, just 10 British nationals per year receive the Légion d’honneur

Reg’s funeral will take place on Friday 26th January at 12:00 at South Bristol Cemetery and Crematorium, followed by refreshments at Nailsea Masonic Hall, Nailsea Park, Nailsea, BS48 1BA from 13:00.


Microscopy Course 2018

Stephen Brain has expressed an interest in running this course next year if there is enough interest shown.
The course would run through the whole year as it involves pollen analysis throughout the seasons.
It is not essential to have your own equipment as the branch does have some microscopes.
We are at the stage of assessing uptake. If you are interested could you let me know. If there are enough takers then we’ll arrange an introductory session in January when Stephen will outline in more detail what the course involves + the potential cost. You can make a final decision then.

Just let me know if you are interested at this stage.

Rob Francis – Education coordinator.
01275 462914 Mobile 07970 298 518

Introduction to Beekeeping 2018

The course is aimed at those who would like to learn about Beekeeping and perhaps take it up as a serious hobby.

Please follow this link for more information: 2018Brochure

Beekeeping Year – June

Things to do this month:-

  • Continue with inspections
  • Practice marking (and clipping) drones
  • Ensure sufficient supers for main flow
  • Extract full supers
  • Continue swarm control
  • Mate new queens
  • Collect swarms (if you know how to)
  • Monitor mite drop <10 day OK (~400)
  • In emergency dust with icing sugar or 1 tray of Apiguard for 2 weeks!!!


Neonicotinoids:Written question – 71446 asked 20 April 2017


STOP PRESS:  We organised a workshop at Tickenham Village Hall on Tuesday 18 April and made  over 15 Asian Hornet traps. When you hang your trap up (in your garden or in your apiary), please send me: e-mail, your post code.  We intend to place the post codes on a map of our District so we can check the cover we are giving to the monitoring process. Instructions for the Asian Hornet trap are at:

I went to the BBKA Spring Convention over the weekend and the big message I have taken from the event is the very real potential for the Asian Hornet to spread across the UK. The Asian Hornet first appeared in France in 2004 and has now spread across of all of France with 50% colony losses reported in the worst hit areas. Bees cannot defend themselves against the Asian Hornet, whereas, collectively, they can defend their hive against the European Hornet.

Locally we have had the first appearance in the UK (remember the isolated start in France in 2004!).

 So what can we do? We need to monitor so that we can provide information on the locations of Asian Hornets so they can be eradicated as the only way to contain the Asian hornet invasion in new territories is to react quickly to any reported sightings, and then locate and destroy the nests as soon as possible. To monitor we need each and every beekeeper in the Club to:

  • build a monitoring trap per apiary (if you have no bees put the trap in your garden) – details of the National Bee Unit trap are on the North Somerset Beekeepers website:
  • place the trap in a sunny location
  • bait the trap with sweet bait
  • check the trap daily, ideally, (which should have a raised floor), releasing all other insects (except the Asian Hornet).  If you suspect you have caught an Asian hornet, then it may be helpful to place the whole trap, unopened, into a freezer bag that can be sealed tightly; place the bag containing the trap into a domestic freezer for 12 hours before opening, to avoid losing the suspect specimen.

 If an Asian Hornet is caught in the trap (or you suspect this to be the case) call Megan Seymour (07775 119475) and send photographs to and

 In addition, there is a video on YouTube showing how to make the trap:  .  The Bee Unit has also produced an app to assist with taking photographs and using the inbuilt GPS on mobile phones  –

 I have provided some graphical information:


Swarms and swarm collectors

Hi All,

Those that would like to be included in the swarm collectors list or require a swarm this year please send me a WhatsApp request to “Swarm Collectors”,  or text me on 07 847 015 155 (you will need a smartphone).

Those requiring swarms should note that they are usually collected from the site in a cardboard box so that there is no need to exchange equipment. With this in mind a means of transport should be coincided (closing the box with tape is usually sufficient). I prefer that collections are made after dusk to ensure that the maximum number of bees are removed from the site.

 If you are a new bee keeper please check with your mentor before taking on a swarm.

 Those wishing to tag along to see how it’s done are very welcome (you will need to sign up of course). Ensure that you turn up with a veil etc. These are mainly for the benefit of the public (although normally very docile, I have experienced some very aggressive swarms), and since you are there, you might as well get the full experience and get your hands dirty! 😉

If you want to take a swarm away, be sure that you bring your own box.

 Kind regards

Adrian Wells

New Scientist article on Clever Little Bees

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


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

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

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

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: