Chairmans Letter – May 2022

Dear Kennet BeeKeeper, 

It is the beginning of May and the swallows are arriving, the bees are thinking about swarming, in some places they are swarming,  and Kennet BeeKeepers, through Wiltshire BKA, has become a CIO Charity. (CIO = charitable incorporated organisation). You can search the Charity Commission records yourselves by going on to :- https://www.gov.uk/find-charity-information  and clicking on the link “Find a charity”.  Type in either “Wiltshire Beekeepers Association” – or the charity number “1198735”. This is great news and if you have any thoughts as to how we can improve our Association, both myself and Rachael Banyard, your two Kennet Trustees can pass on this information to WBKA and perhaps get assistance with funding. 

This coming Wednesday 4 May 7.00 for 7.30 pm at Bishop Cannings village hall we will be having a talk from our own Master Beekeeper Richard Oliver on Swarm Prevention and Control.  For the next few months every member should be watching their bees for swarming – so a highly topical talk that should not be missed by anyone with bees. 

Also on Sunday 8 May 11.00 -12,30 pm Horton Road Apiary is OPEN to all members.  I want you all to feel that you have a share in this club apiary so do turn up if you can.  Clean Bee suites please and if you want to bring some coffee and cake to share that would make it more social.  I am not going to inspect all the hives but we will open a few and do bring your beekeeping problems to discuss with us all – and maybe get several answers!! 

We all want to do the best we possibly can for our bees and with this in mind, there will be an opportunity this season for ‘improver’ beekeepers to polish up on and perfect their apiary skills.  Our very own Master Beekeeper Richard Oliver, has put together a series of sessions with the aim to offer further support to those beekeepers who already have (or are currently working towards) the Basic Assessment and are committed to becoming better beekeepers. There will be no formal assessment or certificate at the end of the course but your bees will thank you for doing it! 

Sessions will be a mixture of theory and practical sessions covering; inspections, disease, swarming and getting ready for a successful Winter.  Dates TBC but there will be one session each month during May, June, July and August. Spaces are limited; if you are interested in taking part or would like some further information, please email Emma Morley at education@kennet-beekeepers.co.uk 

The club has two extractors and a third that leaks a bit. Does anyone want the leaking one for £10 ?   (Now Sold)

Bath and West Show 2 – 4 June. First of all would you like to help at the bee tent?  If so, Chris Rawlings would like to hear from you, do contact him on email:- chris-rawlings@virginmedia.com.  It is a great day out and you get a free ticket and parking to the show – but you do have to do your turn in the bee tent!  Also there is the B&W Honey Show where WBKA challenges all the other counties. Do put in and entry.  All details of the schedule and how to enter at the bottom of this email. 

BBKA News needs a new editor. Could be a really interesting job – is it for you?  We have advertised this previously but more information can be found on page 167 of the May 2022 edition of the BBKA magazine. Closing date is 20th May 2022. 

We are needing a Fetes and Fairs Co-ordinator for KBKA. Please contact our secretary Elaine elainelewis@hotmail.co.uk  who will persuade you that this is the job for you!  Maybe this is something you would enjoy.   

Finally, it has just been announced by the NBU that a confirmed sighting of an Asian Hornet in the Felixstowe area has been made.  We in Wiltshire, are nearer to France where most Asian Hornets are, so that is a good reason to be extra vigilant and put out hornet traps. Can I  encourage you all to place out spring traps as the Queens will be coming out of hibernation and be looking for Primary nest sites.  Monitoring should begin in early spring when queen hornets emerge from hibernation and search for food to begin constructing a small cup-shaped primary nest and raise the first cycle of brood. Weather conditions allowing for foraging activities and founder nest establishment will vary.  These monitoring traps can be placed in an easy to monitor position in the sun such a s near a kitchen window .They need to be watched every day and none target species released. There are various traps available and Thornes currently do a cheap trap.  Traps should have a sponge or gause to prevent unnecessary insect loss . Small insects can be released by drilling holes in the traps less than 8mm. At the end of hibernation emergent queens have a raised energy requirement and show a preference for sweet foods. In early spring such food resources are comparatively rare in the environment, so this means that sweet baits are highly attractive for the early capture of Asian hornet queens. There are many variations of sugar baits, all of which appear to be reasonably effective. These include mixes of sugar and various types of dark beer, various types of alcohol and even simple sugary baits such as apple juice. 

Hope to see many of you at one of our events over the next month.  The beekeeping season is now off to a good and fast start and will take many of us by surprise!    

All best wishes

Robert 

Chairman Kennet Beekeepers Association