Practical training day

Some of the participants in the practical training day

Our ‘drop in’ practical training day was held at the Botley Centre on Saturday 23 April. There were topics designed to appeal to newer beekeepers as well as other subjects for those with more experience. The idea was that members could drop in for the topics they wanted to learn about but in practice, most people stayed for the whole day.

The event started with some ‘beekeeping basics’ like using a cover cloth, feeding and pairing frames to assist with finding the queen.

Practising basic manipulations in groups

Members then broke into smaller groups led by Louise, Denise and Robin. Artificial swarm techniques were demonstrated and participants had the opportunity to practice the manipulations for themselves. What to do when the queen cannot be found was also discussed.

Denise demonstrating the ‘Pagden’ method of swarm control.

It was interesting to see how each group leader demonstrated a slightly different technique, proving there are as many different ways to undertake each manipulation as there are beekeepers!

After coffee, there was the chance to learn about and practice the Bailey Comb change. The different techniques to be used on stronger and weaker colonies were demonstrated.

After a pizza lunch which included some delicious bakery from Louise (described by Chris Parker as “scrumptious goodies!”) we looked at the Shook Swarm technique.

The shook swarm is a vital manipulation. In January this year, the National Bee unit said ‘trails have shown that shaking bees onto new foundation and then destroying the old combs can be beneficial when controlling European foulbrood. This procedure is known as Shook Swarming and it may also be beneficial in controlling Nosema, chalk brood and Varroa mite populations. Colonies treated in this way often become the strongest and most productive in an apiary. Some beekeepers are now using this system to replace all the old brood combs in a beehive within a single procedure.’

The day was rounded off with a look at the Demaree method of swarm control, checkerboarding, making up a nuculus hive and the Miller queen rearing method.

Participants were each given a set of BBKA lamented cards summarising each of the manipulations discussed as well as information to help with the identification and reporting of the Asian Hornet.

Asian hornet traps were also distributed as part of a trail to assess slightly different designs of trap. Simon Fitzjohn has done a lot of work in this and we are very grateful to him for his efforts.

Setting the Asian hornet traps in the Apiary

The event was an excellent learning opportunity and our thanks go to Louise for organising and presenting it and to Denise, Tony and Robin for their contributions.

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