Chairman’s letter – July 2023

Dear Kennet Beekeeper,

I am afraid this is rather a long Newsletter – but do please persist and get to the end – I am worth it!

First of all on Wednesday 5 July at Bishop Cannings village all at 7.30 pm – door open for tea and coffee from 7.00 pm, we have The Honey Island – bee-lore from the Isles of Britain and beyond by Chris Parks. Chris lives on an organic farm in the Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire. His work is wide and varied, from arts and craft, ancient technologies, experimental archaeology and educational projects to eco-building, professional storytelling, folk music and raising the awareness of the heritage of beekeeping. Check out his ancient and aged website. He is also a skep beekeeper, skep-maker, apitherapy student and a practicing Druid. Looking to the past to look to the future.  This will be a talk for all the family and I hope that you will bring along some of your family members to enjoy this fascinating speaker.

Before Chris starts his talk I am going to show you all how to pass the BBKA test to recognise the Asian Hornet – so you are all in for a fun evening. You may not know that originally, BBKA had limited the number of branch members that could be included on their Asian Hornet team but have now realised that limiting the number of members is not the way forward and in fact the more members who are trained the better, especially as there has been a confirmed sighting in Kent on Thursday 22nd June of a small primary nest of Asian hornets. You do have to complete their online training at and this is what I will be taking you through before the talk.  Can as many members as possible take the time to read through the training material and submit the test, it does not take much time at all and could prove invaluable. We have a duty of care, and as the people who have the Asian Hornet knowledge and the skills to protect our part of Wiltshire from this invasive insect we all need to know what it looks like. 

Additionally, BBKA has just launched a new online Learning Platform for its members. Everyone can access study units by using their membership number as a login and creating an account at: 

There are four types of study units:

·  Units for individual beekeepers (free)

·  Units for the public, to raise awareness (free)

·  Units to used by Associations in their training (free)

·  Correspondence courses (fee paying)

The first study units for individual beekeepers available are: Hygiene and Disease Inspection and Asian Hornet Awareness. Additional units will be created through the summer. Do have a look at the platform – there are some really useful videos that show you how to do things (how to clean a smoker, how to make up soda solution, clean hives and frames, etc), which are all great for beginners and also some great tips on how to control pests and diseases as well as when and how to carry out a full disease inspection, for more experienced beekeepers. It’s a very useful resource put there to help everyone with their beekeeping practice so do please make use of it.

Also, BBKA News is now stored digitally on the Learning Platform, so you can enjoy reading past issues much more easily on the move.

What is scheduled for July:

Saturday 8th and Saturday 22nd July 2023from 1.00 pm are the open Apiary days. All members new and established are invited to attend the apiary on each of the Saturdays. A great opportunity to get hands on experience, and an opportunity to have a catch up and a chat all things bees with a cup of tea. Its also interesting to see the progress being made at the new site, with the honey kitchen next to be addressed.  Court Farm Apiary, Bishops Cannings SN10 2LD or if you use What3Words:- holiday.assess.convey. will take you to the farm entrance. Please park up and in front of the Apiary Barn and do not wander across the yard to other barns as we need to be respectful of biosecurity.  

Honey Extraction Skills 29 July 2023 at Hither Dairy, Stanley, Chippenham, SN15 3RE.  Here is the precise what3words address for Hither Dairy. (Every 3 metre square in the world has its own unique what3words address) Just click on this link.

On the course you will learn when honey is ‘sealed’ enough to extract, how to remove it without stings, about the different sorts of extractors and kit, bottling techniques, storage know-how and avoiding fermentation. You will come away understanding key temperatures, what not to do, and how to avoid your house becoming a sticky nightmare. You will also get a few tips on how to present show honey for those who want to have a go. We will touch on what to do with the cappings (candles) and how to clean up cappings and old wax for reuse.  Places are limited to only 12 people, Club members only on a first come first served basis. To apply for a place email Emma Morley:

As you are extracting honey do be prepare for the honey shows later in the year, by collecting honey, honey comb, wax etc. I feel it could be useful for you to have some early sight of the classes you can enter at the Wiltshire Bee & Honey show and our own Branch competition. Attached to this email is the show schedule. Both shows use the same classifications to make it easier for members to enter both shows. More specific information will follow in a dedicated email from Elaine but for now hopefully it will encourage you to think about what classes you would like to enter.


BeeCraft have offered a new discounted subscription offer to all members of Kennet BKA. The discount is significant – around 20% off of the normal prices – PLUS a 10% discount on any BeeCraft shop items such as books.  There will be a promotion code, specific to our club, the details of which Elaine will circulate seperately, together with full instructions.Expect to see this email in the next 48 hours.

You may wish to join in the  celebrations for Charles Butler, The Father of English Beekeepers, and his publication of “The Feminine Monarchie” in 1623 (a book with a madrigal of a piping Queen bee !)  at his pastoral home of Wootton St Lawrence, Basingstoke, RG23 8PE, over the weekend of Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August.  For details, please visit 

Well I hope you’ve got to the end of all this and to see you for the talk of Wednesday.

All best wishes