Meeting notes

9th August 2021

We were excited to welcome David Burns, Seasonal Bee Inspector, Master Beekeeper, and retired school teacher, who has been keeping bees since 2003, to our first physical meeting, to present his talk “My experience of tracking Asian Hornets in 2019 in Jersey”.

David gave us a fascinating insight into his trip involving six inspectors working in teams of two. We learned that conditions in Jersey, with its low altitude and available water, ideally suited the Asian hornet. Being smaller than our European Crabro, it is easily identified by its very very dark, hairy body and yellow legs. It can be seen hovering in front of hives, rather than performing the swooping, grabbing hawking behaviour of our European hornet. It will hang from trees to strip a bee before taking the meat it to its nest. Like wasps, it hibernates over winter and it can sting multiple times.

It takes about 30 to 40 days for the wood pulp nests to be built and the hornet raises the broad itself until the newly emerged hornets are able to help out. As the nest grows, it is moved from a primary site to a main nest. The hornet feeds the brood with meat and in return receives a sugary solution from the larva. The adults become hooked on it. While the European nest might contain 200 to 300 hornets, an Asian hornet’s nest can contain 11,000 to13,000 hornets.

Following on from a meeting of the Asian Hornet Group Jersey, including John de Carteret and the D of E, held in Trinity, a football sized nest was found in Saint Brelade on day one . Due to the number of hornet stings being suffered, live removals were banned and cherry pickers contracted by local pest controllers, were used to get inspectors, wearing hard hats and armed with lances to get up to the nests to pierce them and once dead remove them.

At Howard Davis Park on Day two, a Suterra trap was set up containing a sugar solution used as a method of tracking rather than killing the hornets. A queen marking cage was used at the trap in order to mark the hornets. The hornets could be timed repeatedly returning to the bait feed station and also hunting for meat and feeding in trees. Depending on weather and wind speed, a hornet can fly at a speed of 100 metres per minute and unlike honey bees, hornets fly at night.

Day three at St. Peter’s Valley, bait in a dish set over an upturned bucket was set up and the inspectors were able to establish bearings on the hornet and the nest was found on day four. Although hornets do not appear to have a favourite tree, they seem to favour being up high, but can be found in undergrowth. Every hornet coming to the bait station was marked and although they were seen feeding on wasps and flies at the trap, they were quiet and not aggressive when hunting.

We learned that 71 nests were found and destroyed. Hornets hawking at hives prevent the bees from foraging as they become too scared to leave the hive. The Asian hornet can mimic hover flies. Out of 9,592 sightings, 110 triaged by NBU, eight nests were found, two being secondaries. Hornets can now be tracked and traced by using the Asian Hornet track and trace App produced by FERA with the NBU.

Hornets that are not mated properly produce diploid drones that should be female, but are still capable of mating. However, they can only produce triploid hornets.

David was thanked for his enormously interesting talk.

9 March 2020

At this month’s meeting, Chairman, John Mundy welcomed visiting speaker, Paul Metcalf, NDB,  President of Norfolk Beekeepers association and author of “An Introduction to Beekeeping” who presented an inspiring talk on seasonal beekeeping. Paul also shared Haydak’s Formula for pollen substitution as follows:

  • 3 parts soyabean flour
  • 1 part dried brewers’ yeast
  • 1 part dried skimmed milk

John was pleased to formally introduce and welcome Ruth Thurston as the club’s new Secretary.

Due to April’s usual meeting date falling on a Bank Holiday, it was suggested that the meeting should take the form of a practical session to be hosted from 10am until 1.30pm at Jules Trafford’s apiary on either Saturday 18th or Sunday 19th.  Members were asked to give Ruth feedback on which date they would prefer and to come up with topics for the session.

Further information concerning the club’s calendar of events, including safaris and guest speakers to follow shortly.

10 February 2020

At this month’s meeting members discussed the various tasks to be undertaken and completed in preparation for the coming season.

Members learned that due to family commitments, Pauline Thomson would be stepping down from her role as Secretary.  Ruth Thurston has volunteered to take over those duties and will set to work on securing guest speakers and putting together, based on  members’ suggestions and ideas, a calendar of events for the coming year.

Philip Thompson will be placing a Thorne’s order in March and will email members asking them to contact him direct with their orders.

9 December 2019

Thanks to our members, family and friends for making an entertaining Christmas Social this year . The evening, with several fun quizzes, and “Call my bluff”, included a Christmas buffet and Christmas raffle.  All proceeds to Bees Abroad.

We wish you all a Happy Christmas and a healthy, peaceful 2020.

11 November 2019

An enjoyable evening with members, John, Philip, Robert, Beverly, Dinny, Ruth, Peter G, and Jules

bringing along samples of this year’s honey crop.  It was amazing the wide variety of flavoursome honeys our bees have produced from such a tiny corner of East Anglia.

Next month’s meeting will be the Christmas Social evening.

14 October 2019

This month’s meeting was well attended featuring a very general discussion amongst members.

Covering such subjects as passive queen introduction, the advantages and disadvantages of grafting using plastic queen cups, postal queens, the importance of sterilising nuc boxes every year, bees’ preference for dirty water.  The 50% per year reduction in a queen’s pheromone. The importance of bees foraging mixed pollen to avoid dysbiosis (dysbacteriosis).  Avoid eating a banana near a beehive as the smell is supposed to be similar to the alarm pheromone and you might get stung. A reminder about the importance of reducing entrances for winter.  Don’t dismiss a queen as too small, before giving her about six week for her ovaries to develop. 

Members are asked to bring samples of their honey crops for next month’s Honey Tasting meeting.

Credits all rounds!

Following their presentation to the group in April of a variety of methods of swarm management and further studying under Peter Sunderland, we were pleased to hear that our members Jules, Ruth, Dinny and Shane had achieved official Credits for the Basic Assessment level in Bee Keeping.

Congratulations to them and much credit to Peter for giving up his time to help these members with this significant achievement!

12 August 2019

This was a small, but perfectly formed, meeting of members, attended by a few of our “big guns” who generously shared some gems of information.

Topics included the timing of extraction of the summer crop, and a discussion concerning which varroa treatment to use.  Apiguard, a thymol-based treatment, Apistan, a pyrethroid formation, MAQs, a formic acid (naturally occurring in stinging nettles) treatment and oxalic acid (present in rhubarb) were all discussed.  It was noted that supers can be left on while using MAQs, but the treatment should be used on strong colonies on solid floors.

Peter Sunderland shared his recipe for hive cleaning.  Brian Norman described a feeding method he employs whilst extracting.  The simultaneous feeding and treatment of varroa was discussed, together with the burning of lavender and thyme wood in smokers, and the addition of thymol in feed.

Members were reminded to watch out for robbing when returning wet supers to a hive.  It was noted that placing them above the crown board will usually discourage bees from using them for stores. 

Carolyn Ward recommended over wintering with a super underneath the brood box, rather than above, to avoid the problem of the queen laying in the super before a queen excluder is put in place.

Some other gems of information provided by Brian Norman and Peter Sunderland included the practice of feeding during the ivy flow to dilute ivy stores and the use of oil of almonds to repel aggressive bees.

9 July 2019

At this month’s meeting, Peter Beckley presented a talk Beekeeping in Norfolk in the last century.
He shared extracts from a diary given to him by a Fred Richards of Attleborough, belonging to
Norwich entomologist, Henry J. Thouless. The diary contained notes of the entomologist’s
beekeeping from 1918 to 1932.
Peter noted that at this time, some beekeepers were still keeping bees in skeps and he
commented that it was remarkable how beekeepers across Europe were in touch with each other just after WW1. He reflected that records of the early years’ beekeeping experiences were not that dissimilar to the early years’ experiences of beekeepers today.
Peter read diary extracts from 1919.
“Divided colony on June 6th. Weather very hot and dry from beginning of May to end of June.
Cold and wet from middle of June to end of July.”
Further extracts concerning an artificial swarm, uniting colonies using sprinkled flour and the
inevitable problems with emerging swarms were also shared. Notes recorded that by autumn all his colonies showed signs of “Isle of Wight Disease” and had died out by the end of February.
Subsequently, it was established as Acarine which over the next few years almost completely
wiped out the native bee and the Ministry resorted to importing bees in skeps from Holland.
The diary further records the entomologist’s beekeeping in 1920 and 1921 but left members
speculating why nothing was recorded for 1922.
Peter was heartily thanked for a fascinating insight into beekeeping practices some one hundred years ago.

10 June 2019

This month’s meeting was sparsely attended.  Apologies were received from John Mundy, Ruth Thurston, and Neil & Christine Pinkstone.  Secretary, Pauline Thomson, reminded everyone of the club’s Bee Safari and BBQ to be held on Saturday 13 July.  Seasonal Bee Inspector, David Burns has agreed to accompany members on the safari and Ruth Thurston is hosting the BBQ at her home at 7:30 that evening.  Those present were asked to indicate if they would be attending.  Volunteers able to provide some salads or desserts are asked to contact Pauline.  An e-mail detailing Ruth’s address and travel directions has been circulated to members. 

There followed an informal chat on a myriad of subjects including different extraction methods and equipment.  Brian Norman raised some concern about the origin of some honey for sale at farmers’ markets.  The packaging of bees for sale in California, and bees taken to pollinate crops, was discussed. Contaminated honey from China and recent health concerns about the consumption of Manuka honey and the erosion of the immune system were highlighted.  It seems woodpeckers are not always the bad guys, as the cavities they chisel out in trees provide living quarters for bees.

Peter Sunderland circulated an invitation to a “Microscopy Taster Day for Beekeepers & Others”

to be held at Bergh Apton Village Hall, Cooke’s Road, Bergh Apton NR15 1AA on Sunday 30 June from 10am until 3pm. Admission free and refreshments available.

Robert Egger has white plastic lids handy for use on nuc feeders if anyone is interested.  Peter Grimble is looking for extra beekeeping equipment and he mooted the possibility of the club buying spare equipment.

Brian Norman is the lucky owner of a Victorian observation hive bought at auction. Peter Sunderland noted that a museum located in Denmark has the first WBC hive amongst its collection of antique hives.

Pauline reminded everyone that Peter Beckley will present a talk “Bees and Mankind” at next month’s meeting on Monday, 8 July. fff

13 May 2019

At this month’s well attended meeting, Chairman, John Munday, welcomed Master Beekeeper, John Everett who gave an informative talk on Honey Bee Health.

Copies of the following publications by The National Bee Unit were distributed to all present.

  • “Foulbrood Disease of Honey Bees and other common brood disorders”
  • “Managing Varroa”
  • “The Small Hive Beetle A serious threat to European Apiculture”
  • “Tropilaelaps parasitic mites of honey bees”

John then described the appearance of healthy unsealed and sealed brood, followed by a detailed description of the appearance of the notifiable diseases, the spore-forming AFB and non spore-forming EFB.

The fungal disease, Chalkbrood, neglected drone brood, the virus, Sacbrood, and fungi, Nosemas Apis and Ceranae were discussed and the effect these diseases and disorders have on colonies was highlighted and methods of diagnosis and control were discussed.

The subject of pests of bees, including the effects of Acarine mite and Varroa were also examined, and when and how to administer control treatments for Varroa was discussed.  Methods to deter other pests like wax moths, green woodpeckers, badgers and mice were also described.

The Asian Hornet is notifiable.  Other notifiable diseases, but not yet in the UK are Small Hive Beetle and Tropilaelaps mites.

John then gave a brief talk on the Natural History of Bees and the Environment discussing in particular Solitary Bees, Bumblebees, Honey Bees and subspecies, Leaf Cutter Bees and the Bee Fly.

Questions were then taken, followed by the raffle.

The fee for John’s talk will go to towards an orphanage he and his wife Ruth, support in Uganda.

8 April 2019

At this month’s meeting, Peter Sunderland provided everyone with a copy of his pamphlet “Swarm Control” in which he outlined the official ways of swarm prevention, and drew attention to the advantages and disadvantages of each method.  Thereafter, members, Ruth Thurston,

Dinny Turner, and Jules Trafford demonstrated several methods, including the Pagden artificial swarm with Heddon variation, Splits and the standard Demeree, with Cloake Board modification.

There followed a talk by member, Shane Gilbert on different methods of queen introduction, including direct (substitution) and passive introduction. A variety of different queen introduction cages were passed around for everyone to see, including a 1940’s Manley cage, a Butler, a Roller and travelling cage and Peter gave an explanation of how they all worked.

In his pamphlet, Peter drew everyone’s attention to the laminate sheets on swarm control methods that can be ordered online from the BBKA website and the availability of articles on queen rearing in BBKA News.  Members were encouraged to team up with a neighbouring beekeeper to try out some of the practices on their own bees.

11 March 2019

At this month’s meeting, Secretary, Pauline welcomed George Male who gave an interesting presentation on the various techniques he uses to make body butters and soaps for family and friends, with particular emphasis on butters made from olive oil, coconut oil, and bees wax that he believes to be beneficial for family members suffering from eczema and psoriasis.

For the body butter, using a bain marie, George demonstrated how to melt the ingredients. Using 4 parts bees wax, 7 parts coconut oil and 7 parts rapeseed oil, the liquid was then poured into a variety of different moulds. The moulds are available Online, some of those used today were from China. 10 to 15 drops of Essential Oils, like Lavender and Bergamot can be added to the liquid to perfume the butter. For more recipes go to the Cornish Honey Company’s website.

The preparation of a variety of other soaps, including honey soap with olive oil, carrot purée and buttermilk, scrubs using colonial oatmeal, and Bastille soap-making with lye were also discussed. Aloe Vera and honey soap bases were shown and honey, bees wax and rapeseed oil lip balms were also discussed. There are a number of different soap recipes available on the Brambleberry’s website.

Members thanked George for his presentation and the meeting was brought to a close.

11th February 2019

The most pressing matter at this month’s meeting was the election of a new Treasurer to replace outgoing Marion Adams. Philip Thompson volunteered to take on the role and was duly proposed by Pauline Thomson and seconded by Marion Adams.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to “Winter Preparations”, covering practical winter jobs like scraping wax and propolis from brood boxes, supers and frames and different methods of sterilising equipment using. Members were also able to practice frame making.

Our March 11th meeting will be a talk by George Male on making Body Butter and Soap.
April’s meeting will be presentations of four different methods of Swarm Control.

May’s meeting will be a talk by John Everett on Honey Bee Health.

12th November 2018

This month’s well-attended meeting was devoted to the tasting of honey from members’ own apiaries.  Rose honey from Holland, eucalyptus honey from Portugal, and some locally extracted ivy honey was also tasted, along with some locally produced mead.

Robert Egger asked members to please contact him if they are interested in purchasing second-hand equipment.  Some examples of the equipment on offer were available for inspection.

With regard to those members who expressed an interest in enrolling in the BBKA Basic Assessment being organised by Peter Sunderland, since our meeting, Pauline Thomson has received the following email from Peter which he asked be circulated to members.

“Hello Pauline

I have had several people express interest in my proposed course and I have kept a list of those interested.

As you know, I recently had a knee replacement operation and I am in the recovery phase, but I think what I would like to do is to have an initial meeting (in the New Year) with those interested to determine by consensus of those present: how often we meet and more importantly where we meet and how it is going to be financed.  It is intended that sessions will be a mixture of classroom (prob. Jan, Feb and March) and bee site meetings thereafter.

  • What people are looking for in terms of the content and what their expectation are?

2).   The structure of the course?

The main goal of the course is to prepare participants to take the BBKA Basic Exam.

I should be grateful if you would circulate this email to the Dicklebees membership.

At present I have eight people interested (including two people from the Norwich and District Beekeepers).

Kind regards

Peter Sunderland”

Next month’s meeting will be our Christmas social evening when members are asked to bring along a plate of food and a drink.  Carolyn Ward has offered to prepare a beekeeping quiz for our entertainment.

8 October 2018

Dicklebees welcomed Venetia Rist, retired science and maths teacher, a  beekeeper since 1964 who has run 30 odd colonies for the past ten years.

Venetia, from West Norfolk Beekeepers Association discovered the Bees Abroad project at the National Honey Show and with her teaching background, beekeeping experience and qualifications, was a perfect candidate to help the Batwa pygmy tribe set up their own hives.

The aim of the Project, which is taking place in an area of impenetrable forest in the Bwindi on the Congo/ Rwanda border of Uganda, is to help these impoverished people improve their nutrition and economic status. They have been hounded out of their natural homelands by the success of gorilla tourism.

At the Liberty College in Kasese the colonies are kept in 32mm wide top bar hives made from eucalyptus wood, standing on rock bases with corrugated rooves.  Traditional hives were made with banana leaves stuck together using wottle and daub and hung in trees.

Although large hive beetle is present in the hives, the bees seem to be unaffected by them.  The varroa mite is also present.

Originally, Bees Abroad supplied bee suits and smokers for the Project, but these are now being made by the students at the College. Food grade containers and buckets have also been supplied.  There is no electricity or running water in the honey processing sheds so the students have to rely on the 12 hours of daylight which their site, near the equator, affords.

There is also a Project named Noah’s Widows’ Project run by the Reverend Noah involving 40 beekeepers and another project set up at a refuge for abused women.

Candle-making, using wicks made from plaited cotton threads taken from mopheads, has also been successfully taught and the tribe are now selling their own candles and honey to tourists.  However, it is felt that future tourism may begin to suffer as the gorillas become more confident and dangerous around people. They are also succumbing to diseases as a result of the refuge being left by tourists.

The Honey Show has now opened a class for foreign honey.

John Mundy reminded members to bring along their own honey for tasting at next month’s meeting.

10 September 2018

At this month’s mting our Secretary, Pauline Thomson advised that Brian Norman’s informal talk about his beekeeping experiences had been postponed until next year and the meeting would, therefore, take the form of a general discussion.  As planned, Venetia Rist will present her talk “Visit to Uganda with Bees Abroad” at October’s meeting.

As some members had expressed an interest in improving their beekeeping education, Peter Sunderland circulated copies of the BBKA Basic Assessment Prospectus.  (Available from the BBKA website).  Candidates must be a member of the BBKA and he advised it would probably be helpful to have a copy of Ted Hooper’s Guide to Bees & Honey for referral.  Peter suggested an amalgamation of interested entrants from Dicklebees and Stewart Spinks’s Norfolk Honey Bees Company might work together.  The course would comprise of 25 weekly sessions of one hour at a cost of £25.00. from February to August.  Peter would require final numbers by Christmas.

Robert Egger brought along samples of his cut honey comb packaged in cardboard and within a wooden frame.  It was noted that the cappings showed the comb was from different bees; one comb had wet cappings while the other had dry.

Members experiences with wasp problems were exchanged and various traps discussed.  It was noted that weak colonies with insufficient pheromones were particularly at risk, and house bees with no stings are unable to defend a colony.  Peter Grimble advised that he had participated in the 2018 Big Wasp Survey run by a team from the University of Gloucester.   Carolyn reminded members of the importance of monitoring wasp stings for 48 hours and if “tracking” should occur to seek help immediately.   In cases of anaphylaxis an adrenaline auto injector (epipen or alternative) is jabbed against the muscle of the outer thigh, held for ten seconds and then the thigh is massaged.

Robert Egger asked if any members interested in purchasing second-hand National equipment would please contact him.

13th August 2018

Dicklebees welcomed Peter Sunderland from the Iceni Microscopy Study Group to talk about microscopy, pollen and nosema.

Peter spent time explaining the life-cycle of nosema.  He used cherries to demonstrate how the nosema explodes in the stomach of the bee.  He also provided slides showing both species of nosema (zander and ceranae) for members to examine and look at  through a microscope.

Additionally, Peter brought along approximately 200 slides of pollen allowing members to see the different sizes of pollen through their own microscopes.  The session was interactive and members were able to get a real hands-on experience of microscopy and to better understand the science of pollen.  Peter explained how the bees converted the pollen into energy and how important this was for a healthy and thriving hive.

Peter also brought along 50 slides of bee anatomy sections, probiscus, leg sections, hypopharyngeal gland, etc. which the group found fascinating when viewed under a high power microscope.

As interest was high, those committee members present were keen to expand the group’s knowledge and perhaps book a further session to extend their knowledge of nosema and testing of the same.  Interest was also shown in the possibility of a session devoted to honey analysis (using the sedimentation method or by centrifugal).

9th July 2018

Dicklebees welcomed Pam Hunter, master bee keeper from West Sussex on Monday evening to give a talk on ‘Collecting Pollen’.

Pam outlined the composition of pollen (fats, minerals and vitamins – in fact everything the bees need except for carbohydrate that they get from nectar) and how the bees use it (provision of energy, tissue building and repair, production of hormones, enzymes and pheromones).

Pam explained where pollen is found on the plants and how the bees collect it on their body hairs and then spend time scraping and cleaning it off from their antennae downwards until it is eventually moistened with nectar and temporarily stored on the hind legs.  A colony can collect 50kg of pollen in one year.  The pollen is taken back to the hive and mixed with substances to preserve it and then it is packed into cells for young nurse bees to feed on and to convert into brood food.

We learnt how the bee digests the pollen and the way it’s physiology has adapted to cope with such a tough substance.

Pam finally gave us a list of pollen producing plants by season that honey bees visit to collect pollen.

11th June 2018

At this month’s meeting our Chairman, John Munday, reminded members of Kathy Milne’s email concerning Palgrave’s Summer Fête.  In previous years members set up an observation hive and took the opportunity to sell their honey.  Those wishing to get involved should please contact Kathy direct.

Members were also reminded about the group’s Bee Safari scheduled for Saturday 14th July, (weather dependent).  A timetable, together with confirmation of the names and addresses of those apiaries to be visited will be available at next month’s meeting (9 July).  Members whose apiaries are not being visited are still welcome to attend.  Those members wishing to attend the BBQ at Jules Trafford’s apiary following the Bee Safari should please contact Pauline for details.

A very lively general discussion among members and non-members ensued and covered subjects ranging from the best method of conducting a varroa count, to the identification of two different types of Asian hornet in France.  Methods to prevent hawking by these super aggressive hornets was discussed.

Syngenta charts of The Social Bumblebees of Great Britain and Ireland were distributed by Peter Sunderland.  Topics including queen cell kits, roaring hives, biting yellow (Mediterranean) bees, and Buckfast Queens were all discussed.

The existence of the “June gap” was raised and discussions concerning the checking of supers, hefting and brood examination to identify starvation were covered.  It was agreed that feeding 1 to 1 sugar syrup was a good policy. The use of pollen and winter feed to break down ivy honey was also mooted.

14th May 2018

This evening’s meeting was opened by our Chairman, John Munday who reminded us that the group’s next Bee Safari is scheduled for Saturday 14th July, followed by a BBQ.  Those members wishing to take part should please let Pauline know soonest.

We were pleased to welcome Jeremy Quinlan from Suffolk Beekeepers Association who presented a comprehensive talk on Standard Manipulations – outlining the tasks we beekeepers  need to be able to perform for the BBKA Basic and General Husbandry assessments.

Jeremy described the steps involved to find the queen, discussed why and how to clip queens, described how to pick up and mark a queen.   (Members were given an opportunity to handle drones for practice).

A demonstration was given on how to shake bees off a frame, followed by step by step techniques for swarm prevention, including the Pagden swarm control method, and for the more experienced, the taking out of a nucleus.

A test frame to determine the presence of the queen was discussed, details of when and on what colony a Bailey Comb change may be performed, together with a description of how to carry out a Shook Swarm were all covered.

Drone comb was discussed, followed by an explanation of how to use Acetic Acid for comb sterilisation.

Jeremy was heartily thanked for a highly informative presentation and the meeting culminated in refreshments and the monthly draw.  A pdf version of Jeremy’s talk is available for members.

9th April 2018

At this evening’s well-attended meeting, we were pleased to welcome Jill Tinsey from East Dereham, an instructor and assessor with some 25 years’ beekeeping experience who is currently running 40 working hives.  Jill’s presentation this evening was “Wax – what to do with it”.

Jill explained how and where to collect it, including scraping it from frames, recycled frames and cappings.  A wallpaper steamer can also be used over a brood box, frames and mesh floor so that the wax can be collected in a bucket.

The crucial thing to remember is that to utilise wax it must be clean, a process that takes time and patience.  Jill covered the steps required to clean the wax, including, initially the use of a jam pan and garden sieve, then washing and rinsing the cappings with warm soft water, securing them in a pillowcase and drying them on a clothes line.

Jill advised that wax melts at approximately 64 degrees and can be poured at 72 degrees.  Using a bowl and a little soft water as a bain marie, the wax can be filtered through various materials including muslin and a plastic sieve, paper coffee filters, absorbent lint, flannel, either in an oven at 80 degrees, or using a plastic milk container with a bain marie simmering on a hob. (A thermometer will be required)

Jill showed examples of different shaped and sized containers that could be used as moulds, including pryex bowls, yoghurt and margarine pots, plastic takeaway dishes, all of which must be clean and wiped with either a paste of washing up liquid and soft water or silicone spray to enable the wax to be removed from the mould.  Plastic bottle necks can be used as pourers.  Mark mould with wax line as water must be below wax level in bain marie.

Jill advised to protect floors and other surfaces from drips, to work in a warm environment, with no vibrations, and ideally to leave the wax to cool overnight without disturbances.  When cold the wax should be removed from its mould and placed in cold water, with any edges gently rubbed with a soft cloth to remove bloom.

Jill explained that commercial or “show” wax requires strict criteria to be followed with texture, scent and weight all being judged.  Cappings wax is best for this work as the colour is lighter.

Jill also presented a number of silicone and glass candle-making moulds, explained how to wax a wick, how to place it in the mould and use a corrugated cardboard holder to support a glass mould.

Jill was heartily thanked for her very informative presentation and the meeting culminated in tea and biscuits and the monthly raffle.

12th March 2018

This month’s meeting was opened by our new Chairman, John Munday.  Pauline Thomson’s appointment as Secretary was proposed and Seconded. Marion Adams continues as Treasurer.

Following a brief introduction by members, a general discussion ensued concerning David Crawford’s failed colony.  David brought along to the meeting several frames from which it was

clear (to those more experienced beekeepers) that the colony had probably died out due to only drones being present in the hive.  This was attributed to the queen laying drones because she had run out of sperm or laying workers.  Members were reminded that there should be no drones in a hive from September.  In order to avoid the propagation of disease, Peter Sunderland impressed upon members the importance of trying to investigate why a colony has failed.  Members who lost colonies over winter were encouraged to always have two or more hives.  It was noted that

Peter Beckley supplies hives and colonies of different bees and Peter Sunderland is another supplier of a variety of bees and 5/6 frame nucs.

Carolyn Ward presented a demonstration of her personal method of Demaree which she carries out in about May to prevent swarming and in order to protect her oil seed rape honey crop.  She referred members to Dave Cushman, Roger Patterson and Stewart Spinks for other demaree methods.  It was noted that bees in a colony of less than 20 thousand will generally not swarm.

Members discussed how often to change frames. The general agreement was that it should be every three or so years.

Dicklebees’s Bee Safari will take place on 14 July with a BBQ in the evening hosted by Jules.  A queen rearing session on 9 or 16 June was discussed.  However, members wishing to take part in these events should please advise Pauline soonest.  See Dicklebees site for other events on the calendar including Jill Tinsey on 9th April discussing what to do with wax and Jeremy Quinlan on 14 May discussing standard manipulations.  Peter Sunderland is also running beginners and more advanced courses on his site.

Marion advised that she will extend the time for members to place Thorne orders, enjoying a 20% discount, until 31st March.

12th February 2018

Stewart Spinks from Norfolk Honey Company talk on ‘Preparing for the Season Ahead’

Stewart gave us an informative and entertaining talk which combined advise on preparing for the season ahead, his own experiences as a seasonal bee inspector, more recent experiences and his personal beekeeping plans for the coming year.

Stewart’s guide to having a successful beekeeping season included: knowing where you want to be at the end of the year and putting plans in place to reach these goals, trying out new equipment or techniques, keeping good records, making sure that any new techniques are conducted at an appropriate time of year and swarm prevention.

Stewart reflected on his 2017 beekeeping year; among other highlights he had a very good oil seed rape crop, and his best ever production of cut comb to date.  He enjoyed investing in and using some new equipment and experimented (unsuccessfully unfortunately) with a ‘treatment-free’ colony of bees.  Stewart’s own beekeeping group (The Norwich and District Bee keeping Group) collaborated successfully with other groups to share knowledge.

Some of Stewart’s plans for the coming year included making more of his You Tube videos (, trying out new queen rearing methods and new equipment and catching more swarms.

8th January 2018

Annual General Meeting held – minutes and 2017 group financial report made available to memebers.

11th December 2017

Unfortunately the Christmas Social was cancelled due to the winter weather causing bad driving conditions.

13th November 2017

Manuka on a matchstick?  Yes, at this month’s meeting members brought along jars of honey taken from their own apiaries this year for a tasting evening.  Among those honeys sampled were oil seed rape, lime tree (linden), meadow flowers (mixed nectar) and cattle bean.

Peter Sunderland provided some exotic samples for tasting, including pure Manuka (Teatree), Sicilian eucalyptus, Leatherwood, Honeydew (aphid) and Creamed (soft set Dyce processed) honey.  A fun evening, albeit a sticky one.

Fran advised the meeting that she would be leaving the area shortly to take up life on a canal boat.  She has five good colonies (all requeened in 2017),  plus 120 honey jars to sell. Ruth will provide members with further information.  We wish Fran all the very best for the future.

October 9th 2017

Stewart Spinks was unable to deliver his scheduled talk this evening.  The meeting therefore opened with general discussions on various subjects, with input from several members. The sealing of stores when the temperature drops; the use of thymol to prevent mould developing on syrup was considered.   Carolyn recommended reading Jurgen Tutz’s “The Buzz about Bees”.  Philip distributed copies of his Honey Marmalade recipe and gave us a tasting.

The Hive Experience at Kew Gardens, a visual representation of a colony’s activity was discussed.

Using nettles at the entrances of hives to deter “hawking” hornets was mentioned.   The importance of being able to recognise the signs of the life-threatening effects of anaphylactic shock, together with the use of an epinephrine pen was discussed. Queens with aggressive traits, propolis production and its uses;  detox by eating cut comb made from virgin wax were all considered.  Peter recommended Backo fondant should winter feeding become necessary.

September 11th 2017

At Dicklebees meeting this evening, we were pleased to welcome Peter Sunderland, a  beekeeper of some 20 odd years’ experience, who gave a talk focusing on preparing bees for winter, giving protection and health check advice, and his tips on how to successfully over-winter bees to minimise losses.

Peter distributed notes that included detailed diary dates for bee treatments to be carried out during the year.  He stressed the importance of beekeepers being able to recognise disease in the hive.  In particular, drawing attention to the appearance of healthy larvae compared with starving larvae.

Peter gave a detailed explanation of the importance of winter “ fat” bees and the difference between those bees and “thin”  bees.  He also covered the stimulative feeding required to ensure a hive has an abundance of field bees, rather than house bees. Discussion of when to add supers was also covered.

Tips on winter feeding, detailing what and when to feed, together with information on the product Candipolline was also given.  Various methods to control mite populations, including what to use and when, and ideas on inspection boards, was also included.

Winter protection against predators, using plastic and metal guards and reduced entrances was demonstrated and the importance of avoiding syrup spills and feeding all hives together to prevent robbing was also discussed.

The meeting culminated in tea and biscuits for all. The raffle was completed and Peter was heartily thanked for a most informative and enjoyable presentation. We hope to welcome him back again soon.

May 8th 2017

Monthly meeting last night with a talk from Paul Metcalf on Queen Rearing. A very information talk from a very knowledgeable beekeeper.

April 11th 2017

Regular monthly meeting last night which was a very interesting talk on swarming given by John Everett. Good to see a number of new faces as well.

March 14th 2017

Went to our monthly meeting last night at which various subjects were discussed. Part of the discussion was about early spring feeding of our bees, to feed or not to feed. General consensus is if you need to feed then you need to be aware of the weather. With it currently being warm then syrup at 1:1 is what should be fed. However, if the weather turns cold then it should be fondant.

So how do you know whether to feed or not. The best way is to see what stores the bees have. If you know how heavy the hives should be then hefting them is a great way to judge the amount of stores left. If you can’t heft then a quick look inside to see what stores they have is recommended but it needs to be done on a warm(ish) day and done quickly. This should not be a full hive inspection at this stage.