‘My Apiary’ – Brian and Karen

Karen and I have two apiaries consisting of eight hives and a couple of nucs.
The first is a south facing apiary with early morning sunshine (when available) in an urban setting, close enough to the Chase to sometimes produce heather honey if the weather is in our favour.

At the moment it consists of 6 hives and a couple of nucs, which will be combined later in the year if required. The apiary is now up to full strength after throwing out a drone layer and replacing it with a split from the same colony.

There was a virgin queen in the original hive, but it appears she never made it back after mating during the heavy rains we had early on. Still that’s all part of beekeeping.

The second apiary consisting of 2 hives is situated in HMP Stafford. Having worked in the prison for 26 years and with Karen working INSIDE as well, we were asked by the Governor, if he purchased a couple of hive with all the basic equipment, could we supply the bees and the knowhow to set up a teaching programme for the inmates.

That was over 3 years ago, and the situation has gone from strength to strength.
Its been very popular with inmates and to date we have taught the basics of beekeeping to half a dozen lads along with a long list of others who have shown an interest.

These two hives have been excellent honey producers, and the honey is now being sold to the inmates in 8 oz squeezy plastic bottles (glass not allowed). The proceeds from the sales help towards the upkeep of the hives, for fondant, wax etc.

The programme has been quite promising, and other establishments around the country have shown an interest, and are considering the same in their prisons. The biggest hurdle with setting up an apiary in a prison is security, but having worked at Stafford for such a long time there were ways to get around the rules.

These last 8 or 9 years have been a challenge, and we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always managed to keep going. HAPPY BEEKEEPING

Garden Opening a great success

Remember ‘The Mount’, Cresswell, Stafford, which had an Open Garden week from July 12th to the 18th with all the proceeds going to The Katherine House Hospice.

Well, Chris Williams was really pleased with the turnout saying: ‘We were extremely successful at our garden opening and managed to raise £3,810.

Apparently, this is enough to run the hospice for a morning, including all therapy services. Visitors were very generous, buying plants and raffle tickets. They were also very complimentary about our garden including asking us how many
gardeners we employed! The garden was at its best and appreciated by all our visitors. A huge thank you to all those who supported us.’

Chris Williams

Space Bees…

Chris Shaw, our past President, recently had an opportunity to set up a small apiary at Collins Aerospace in Wolverhampton, a manufacturing company that makes aeroplane actuation systems.

The company, like a lot of firms these days is keen to demonstrate their commitment to protecting the local environment and raising awareness with their workforce.
As part of the project, they asked Chris to put on a lunchtime beekeeping presentation for the staff. Due to covid rules this meant talking to small socially distanced groups which made it all the more fun.

So on July 12th I duly went along to represent our association and answer questions about club membership, and training courses. Joining us was Lorraine Parker who has just successfully completed the club’s beginners course and was ideally suited to giving a new beekeeper’s perspective on keeping bees.

Those that attended asked lots of interesting questions and were able to buy some of the first honey from the on-site hives. There was also a lot of interest in SS&DBKA and I think that we shall see some of them joining our club in the not too distant future.

Fay Heywood, Environmental Health and Safety Officer for Collins Aerospace said that she had had excellent feedback from the staff who attended the presentation.

Thank you to Chris for the invite and I wish her continuing success with her project at Collins Aerospace.

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Monday 21st June.

Steve was a well respected member of our association who helped in many ways and
was very proficient at record keeping and taking minutes of meetings.

But Steve always preferred to be in his bee suit and inside a hive. He loved his bees and
cared for them and treated them with respect.

As a member of the team looking after the bees at Hilton Green, his care and attention
to detail was much valued. He had been keeping bees for about ten years and through all that time he worked alongside me and we were best mates.

Steve’s fight against liver cancer began quite well and we thought he was making progress, but it was not to be. I never heard him complain, he just carried on as best he could.

The day before Steve died we had managed to extract the oil seed rape honey from
his hive at Brinsford for him. When it was delivered and he was told that there was 60
lbs his face lit up. Steve lived life well and enjoyed a laugh and a joke, so smile and remember a wonderful man.

Chris Shaw

BBKA Website Enquiry

Dear BBKA,
Not an enquiry but a big Thank you to Brian Harvey in Stafford who we were able
to contact via the BBKA website when a swarm of honey bees arrived in our garden.
He was with us so quickly and was absolutely superb. We had a crowd of neighbours who were just as fascinated as we were and Brian kindly explained what he was doing and gave us all sorts of information about them too. Thank you again Brian we all enjoyed your skill and clear passion for bee keeping.
Name: Claire Peacock

Dear Claire,
Thank you for your email and feedback. I am pleased that Brian was able to help with
the swarm in your garden. I have copied in the secretary of the BBKA Association where Brian is a member so they can pass on your comments to Brian.
Kind Regards,
Erica Challis | BBKA Website Administrator

Dear Brian,
We are writing to you, to pass on thanks from a member of the public (Claire Peacock), for your recent Swarm Collection activity in July. This message came to us from the BBKA whom expressed pleasure that you were able to help.

Ed Bennett, Secretary SS&DBKA

Many thanks to Brian Harvey from us too, for representing our association and our community so well. The picture below shows the beautiful prime swarm in all its glory.