New beekeepers start practical sessions

This year’s intake of new beekeepers had completed their six weeks theory sessions via Zoom and were ready to get to grips with the practical aspects of beekeeping by meeting the bees for the first time at Shugborough.

Because of Covid-19 we could only have a maximum of 30 people gathering together at the same time.

So the new beekeepers were split into a Tuesday evening group and a Saturday morning group.

This still allowed for a support team of tutors and helpers to be in attendance on both days.

June 1st was the first time that anybody other than the small apiary work group teams had attended the Shugborough apiary since late 2019.

We set up a makeshift camp of chairs on the small car park at the entrance to the apiary so that our new beekeepers could change into their bee suits and listen to the safety information and get their first try at lighting smokers.

It was a bit chaotic at times as we adapted to the new working conditions but everybody got stuck in.

The following Saturday we met up with the other group of beginners but this time we were a bit more organised and had more chairs thanks to Phil who collected them from our Hilton Green apiary.

Thank you to all the new beekeepers for bearing with us and a big thank you to the club members who supported and continue to support our new beekeepers.

The beginner practical sessions continue on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the next few weeks.

Given that we can meet together in bigger groups, the apiary will then be open to all members on Saturday mornings until the end of the season.

Beginners Course Starts

The association last ran its popular beginners beekeeping course in 2019 but, after a one year layoff due to COVID, the course started up again on Tuesday 20th April 2021.

The thirty people who have signed up to learn about beekeeping received their course packs recently by special delivery and are are now ready to attend the theory sessions which this time will be via Zoom instead of the traditional Wolseley Bridge venue.

The course which will run for six weeks starting at 7.00pm each Tuesday evening includes presentations on the following subjects: An introduction to beekeeping,
Honey bee biology, Hives types and equipment, Swarming and Pests and Diseases.

We have some additional speakers this year, with existing speakers Geoff Hopkinson, Stuart Roberts, Trevor Smith, Alan Greenman and Barry Crossly being joined by Jo Berriman, Dayna White and Julie Hamer who are making their debut on the speaker team.

As well as the traditional topics, this year we have added some new presentations including the beekeeping year, forage and products of the hive

We hope that the beginners will enjoy the new improved course and that they will go on to enjoy keeping bees themselves in the future as much as we all do.

So, we wish them all the best with their studying and look forward to seeing them for the practical bee handling sessions in the apiary on June 1st 2021.

Special thanks must go to Stuart Roberts for all the work he has put in to producing the beginners course over the last few years. He and his team have put together an excellent beekeeping course for new members of the association.

Thank you Stuart and your team

Bee Seasons outside and in

Outside the Hive

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter

Spring – A few foragers bringing pollen in
Summer – Foragers building up
Autumn – Full foraging activity
Winter – Few foragers visible

Inside the Hive

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter

Spring – Queen lays 1600 to 2000 eggs per day
Summer – Bees hatch and numbers grow
Autumn – Bees store and cap honey in the cells
Winter – Bees rely on their stored food, forage for water and take cleansing flights

Club Educational Proposals for 2021

Following the absence of educational offerings in 2020 and taking note of the feedback in the annual survey, the following is the club proposal for the 2021 season:

The beginner course will run from Tuesday 20th April at Wolseley Bridge (7pm start time).

Week 1. 20th April
Introduction to Beekeeping – Geoff Hopkinson BEM, NDB
Frame Making – Stuart Roberts

Week 2. 27th April
Honeybee Biology –Trevor Smith
Mating Biology & Behaviour – Stuart Roberts

Week 3. 4th May
Hives, Tools & Other Hardware – Alan Greenman
Top Bar Hive – Barry Crossley

Week 4. 11th May
The Beekeeping Year – Julie Hamer
Forage – Jo Berriman

Week 5. 18th May
Swarming – Stuart Roberts
Feeding – Trevor Smith

Week 6. 25th May
Honeybee Pests & Diseases – Clive Stewart
Products of the Hive – Dayna White

Note: All lecturers are still to be confirmed

If for any reason we cannot meet at Wolseley Bridge then the lectures will take place via Zoom.

The lectures will then be followed by 6 weeks of practical sessions in the Shugborough apiary starting at 7.00pm on the following dates: Tuesday 1st June, Tuesday 8th June, Tuesday 15th June, Tuesday 22nd June, Tuesday 29th June, Tuesday 6th July.

If for any reason we cannot meet at the apiary then the class will be split into groups of a suitable size that can meet. We may have to meet on different days.

Mentors will be found for those beginners that wish to have one.

Note: The practical leaders are still to be confirmed.

Novice Beekeepers
We feel that it is important to continue to support the beginners from 2018 onwards and any other beekeepers who think that they are lacking in confidence. To this end we are planning to host beekeeping chat sessions once a month.

These will initially be Zoom meetings but targeted at beekeepers chatting to their peers. This is to encourage open and honest discussions in a safe environment.

The hope is that new beekeepers (3 years or less) will discuss their beekeeping issues among friendly like-minded people.

Novice meetings will be on every 2nd Thursday of the month.

Improver Beekeepers
We will do the same for Improver beekeepers (3 – 5 years) but on every 3rd Thursday of the month.

Experienced Beekeepers
On the 4th Thursday of the month we will have a discussion for the more experienced beekeepers. However, everybody is welcome to attend this session.

So the education offering will look as follows:
When the apiary opens in May the meetings will take place there (assuming that we are allowed to meet in person).

The Saturday apiary sessions will be general hive inspections led by one of the Apiary Working Group (AWG) members. Unsupervised hive inspections will not be allowed. However, hands-on supervised inspections are to be encouraged.

Two separate ‘Bee Safaris’ have been scheduled but are yet to be confirmed. There will also be a ‘healthy bees’ day which is still to be agreed with the Regional Bee Inspector. It will either be on a Saturday during the day or on a Thursday evening.

In addition to these sessions for the general membership there will be separate sessions for those people wishing for tuition relating to the BBKA Basic Certificate.

These will be theory sessions covering the syllabus, either in the classroom or by Zoom, and practical sessions in the apiary demonstrating how the assessment will run and how the candidate is to display their knowledge to the assessor.

There may also be study groups set up to tackle the BBKA theory modules depending upon demand from the membership.

Stuart Roberts – Educational Coordinator