obtaining a nucleus

A nucleus colony, or nuc for short, is a small honey bee colony created from a larger one. It’s so named because it’s smaller than a full-sized colony and is centred on a queen bee and a nucleus of worker bees. The value of nuclei.

A good quality nucleus is like gold dust and can be raised for a beginner by a local beekeeper or beekeeping association.

A good quality nucleus will 

  • have a young, good quality, laying queen. She may be marked and/or clipped
  • have all stages of brood present
  • be free of signs of disease
  • have at least three frames with brood
  • have four frames or more fully covered with honey bees
  • have at least one full comb of honey (or equivalent) and half a frame of pollen
  • contain comb which is in a good, clean condition, preferably being less than one season old

Meridian will be happy to raise a nucleus colony for new members provided they have attended the Introduction to beekeeping course. The value of nuclei


Our temperate climate

In Britain, we have a maritime temperate climate which is one of the most varied weather systems in the world. British bees are best adapted to cope with our climate and the resultant vegetation. Local bees are better still.

Maritime temperate regions are found in areas near coasts where the sea and onshore winds provide more rain. This helps to keep the temperatures level throughout the year.

Typical characteristics of temperate regions include:

  • having four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.
  • unpredictability – whilst having recognised characteristics, most of the seasons will also have very varied weather within them. Rain, fog and lower temperatures may not be uncommon even in summer. Don’t we know it!
  • believe it or not, temperate regions are the most popular climate to live in because we don’t experience the wide variations of some of the more extreme climates.
  • the ability to grow a large variety of crops and fruit meaning agriculture is a major income earner in these regions. Grain crops such as wheat, barley and oats are extensively grown. Pears, apples, strawberries and other soft fruit are grown to sell either as fresh produce or for manufacturing into products such as jam.
  • deciduous trees in most areas giving way to coniferous trees where the temperatures are lower for example in hilly or mountainous regions.

Britain’s summer temperatures are generally cooler than further into Europe. This is because the sea has a moderating effect keeping the land cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Our changeable weather makes accurate weather forecasting difficult to achieve. Rain often comes in the form of storms which develop in the North Atlantic and blow across Britain from west to east at all times of the year.

Even on our small island, the weather, and to some extent the climate, differs from north to south and east to west. Mountainous areas get a lot more rain than the lowlands and this has a large effect on what can be grown. Lowland areas tend to be warmer and more suitable for large-scale agriculture. British bees are adapted to make the best of the weather in their particular area and the crops and plants that grow there.


BeeBase is offered free to beekeepers by the National Bee Unit. It is funded by DEFRA, the Welsh Government and Scotland’s Bee Health Programme.

The website provides a wide range of apicultural information to help beekeepers maintain healthy and productive colonies. It provides a wide range of beekeeping information including honey bee related legislation, information about pests and diseases and how to recognise, control and treat them. There are also downloadable publications and advisory leaflets. National Bee Unit

Meridian highly recommends that new and experienced beekeepers make use of this extremely useful resource and sign up. Doing so puts you on the radar of the regional bee inspector who is there to help and guide you. Should you suspect your bees have been affected by a notifiable disease or pest, a visit from an inspector can be arranged. This is not something to be feared, the inspectors are extremely knowledgeable and are there to help. Registering with Beebase also means you’ll receive email notifications of threats and problems when they occur in your locality. Register Beebase

Registering also helps Beebase understand the distribution of beekeepers and their apiaries across the country. This helps them to effectively monitor and control the spread of serious honey bee pests and diseases, as well as providing up-to-date information on keeping bees healthy and productive.

By registering with Beebase you will play a very important part in helping to maintain and sustain honey bees for the future.

Bee Inspectors contact details

Kevin Pope
Mobile : 07775 119466

Mark Lynch
mark.lynch@apha.gov.uk Mobile : 07824 530180

John Geden (Regional bee inspector)
John.Geden@apha.gov.uk Mobile: 07501 275259

Getting your bees

You’re excited to get started, you’ve searched the internet. You’ve found some bees you can immediately send off for or go and collect. We understand, we’ve all been there, but before you rush off, there’s a few things you may wish to consider.

Not all honey bees are the same. There are different strains; they don’t even look the same. Many in Britain are small and dark, almost black or dark brown, others are larger and more noticeably orange. Some bees are easy to control and some are virtually uncontrollable especially in the hands of a beginner. If you end up with defensive bees, you may become discouraged and give-up beekeeping before you’ve really started. Also, you can’t keep highly defensive bees in a garden close to neighbours but you can keep a gentle colony which has been properly sited. siting your apiary

Some beginners are attracted to Mediterranean strains because they’re said to be gentle and productive but they don’t necessarily have the frugality of local bees and may not make their stores last the winter.our temperate climate

When buying bees:

  • Avoid buying bees from outside your area. It risks accelerating the spread of pests and diseases. Since Brexit, it’s illegal to buy packages or colonies of bees from abroad because it risks importing the devastating pests that we have so far managed to avoid in the UK. Most beekeepers agree, local strains are better adapted to the flora and weather conditions of that locality.
  • Use a reputable supplier. References will help you choose. Ask the supplier where the queen has come from. It is not always clear what strain of honey bee you are obtaining and whether the queen has been bred by the supplier, bought in or imported. If you join a beekeeping association, they will usually raise a nucleus of local bees for you and they will follow established quality guidelines obtaining a nucleus
  • It’s important to examine the bees before you purchase them to ensure they meet the required standard and are disease free. If you are not competent to do this, ask a beekeeper who can check for you. If the vendor is not prepared to show you the bees or allow examination, consider why.


Meridian Beekeepers’ Association

Meridian was set up over twenty five years ago by a group of enthusiasts with the aim of encouraging new and existing beekeepers to look after their bees by means of good husbandry and increased knowledge.

A great deal of effort has been put in by many members to increase public awareness and to help educate school children about bees, beekeeping, pollination and the environment. 

Our mentoring scheme, apiary meetings and training have proved very popular and the cooperation between members means that difficulties and challenges can usually be resolved quickly and effectively. If the association’s members don’t know the answer, we usually know someone who does!

Meridian Beekeepers’ Association is a member of Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association and the British Beekeepers’ Association. Our members are protected by insurance provided by Bee Disease Insurance Limited.

We have two Association apiaries at Swanmore and West End, Southampton.

We support beekeepers and beekeeping in the South Hampshire area of Southern England. Our area ranges from Romsey in the West, Winchester in the North, Meon Valley and Fareham to the East and South.

Equipment loan

The association has some essential equipment for loan but it is important that members return the equipment in a clean and fully working state. A deposit may be required for each piece of equipment borrowed which is returnable on completion of the loan.


  • Extractor (3 units)
  • Settling tank
  • Lightweight plastic uncapping tray                   
  • Warming Cabinet   
  • Heather Press          
  • Display Boards      
  • Display Hive            
  • Burco boiler (for cleaning frames and equipment)
  • Dissecting Microscope  (£25 deposit)
  • Dissecting Microscope (£50 deposit)       
  • Hp Microscope (2 units) (£50 deposit)                 

Before borrowing a microscope, members should have a good working knowledge of their use. There is a BBKA course and microscopy certificate.

USB Computer Mini Microscope Cameras are also available with software to record microscope images.

Pestle and Mortars can be provided free when borrowed with the high power microscope.

Slides and coverslips can be provided.

Your committee

Chris Parker
chris.parker939@gmail.com07917 264269
Richard Skinner
secretarymeridianbees@gmail.com 07812 642970
Philip Smith
Louise Evans
Education and training
louisewithbees@gmail.com07434 952900
Denise Smith
Social secretary
denise.smith@meridianbeekeepers.com07525 753025
Howard Towl
howard.towl@meridianbeekeepers.com 07832 185913
Richard Skinner
HBKA representative
secretarymeridianbees@gmail.com 07812 642970
John Hammondjohn@discoverysa.co.uk07886 086922
Nicky Kakkarnicolakakkar@hotmail.com07983 549551


Old Dairy House, Mayhill Lane, Swanmore, Hampshire, SO32 2QW

West End allotments, Moorgreen Road, West End, Southampton, Hampshire, SO30 2HG



The Association shall be called the Meridian Beekeepers’ Association hereinafter referred to as the MBA or the Association.

2. Objective

a. The Objectives of the MBA are to promote and encourage the craft of beekeeping in the community by means of education, information and co-operation.

b. To encourage and foster the highest standards of beekeeping, the best standards of honey, healthy bees and with disease and swarm control.

c. To encourage the young to take up the craft and offer assistance to all new beekeepers.

d. To encourage members to increase their knowledge by studying and taking BBKA Examinations.

3. Relationships

The Association is affiliated to the http://hampshirebeekeepers.org.uk (Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association) and the https://www.bbka.org.uk (British Beekeepers’ Association). All rules of the HBA and the BBKA shall be observed by members of Meridian.

4. Membership

Membership of the MBA is open to any person willing to accept the rules of the association and whose membership is approved by the Management Committee.

The classes of membership shall be:

4.1 Full Members (registered)

4.2 Partner Members

4.2 Associate

4.3 Honorary Member

4.4 Junior Member

4.5 Corporate Member

Full members have the right to speak and vote at any meeting and to attend any general meetings. They can only attend a committee meeting at the invitation of the committee. A member need not be a current beekeeper.

Partner members are those who live in the same house as the ordinary member and who might look after the bees in the absence of the full member or have bees of their own.

Associates – Beekeepers who are full members of another association can be registered as Associates of MBA. Members of the family of an MBA ordinary Member are entitled to become associates of MBA (Family). Non-beekeepers who wish to become associates may do so, on the understanding that if and when they acquire a stock of bees they apply for Ordinary membership. Associates may speak at any formal meetings but cannot vote. Corporate members are individual members or Businesses/Other Associations who are keen to support the association and research.

Honorary Membership – This may be awarded for conspicuous service to the association. The recipient has free membership together with all the rights and privileges of Ordinary Membership. The Association will be responsible for paying their capitation to BBKA.

Junior Members are any person who is still in full-time education and/or is under 18 on 31st December preceding the year of membership, has no more than two hives and pays the required capitation to the Association for sending on to BBKA through the Treasurer of MBA.

5. Subscriptions

The annual subscription for the following year will be fixed at the AGM which takes place in February. Every member will be insured through Bee Disease Insurance within the limits of that insurance.

6. Management

The Management of the Association will be vested in the following Officers:

6.1 The Chairman

6.2 up to 6 elected committee from the membership

6.3 The Secretary

6.4 The Treasurer

6.5 The Membership Secretary

All the Officers of the Association will be elected at the Annual General Meeting. No person whilst an undischarged bankrupt may serve on the committee or hold any other office or appointment within the association.

The Committee has the power to co-opt additional members for special purposes.

The membership is able to pass a vote of no confidence in the Committee by calling a Special General Meeting with at least 65% of the membership present.

A simple majority is sufficient. The Secretary and Treasurer would remain until the new committee had been elected.

Your committee

7. Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting will be convened in February or March each year. Business will consist of the following:

7.1 Reports from the Chairman, Secretary and the audited accounts from the Treasurer

7.2 Report from the HBA Delegate

7.3 Election of Officers and committee members for the following year.

7.4 Changes to Rules of Association notified to members 6 weeks in advance.

7.5 Appointment of Auditor

7.6 Any items agreed by the Chairman and notified to the membership on the Agenda at least one week in advance of the meeting. All members are entitled to address the meeting through the chair.

8. Alteration to the rules of the Association

A proposal by any member to alter the rules of the Association must be with the Secretary at least 8 weeks before the AGM so that the Management Committee can be informed. The proposed amendment will then go on the MBA website or be posted as required at least 6 weeks before the AGM. Discussion will take place at the AGM and a decision decided by a vote.

9. Quorum

A quorum will be a minimum of 4 (four) of the elected members of the committee, A quorum for the AGM will be no less than two fifths of the current Ordinary Members.

10. Monthly meetings

The Secretary in conjunction with the management committee will arrange regular meetings to be held indoors from October until April and in members’ apiaries throughout the rest of the year. Lectures will be presented on aspects of beekeeping.

11. Website

The webmaster shall at the request of the secretary and management committee keep an up-to-date MBA website.  This shall be the main source of information for all members and non-members to include, but not limited to, items for sale, regular meeting times and venues, information from other associations, articles of interest local, national and international and announcements and information for members.

12. Extra-ordinary general meetings – The association shall hold an extra-ordinary general meeting at the request of five ordinary members of the Association or at the request of the Management Committee. The nature of the business to be discussed must accompany any such request. No other business will be discussed. Two week notice of the meeting must be given to members.

13. Enrolment

Applications for enrolment in the MBA are to be made to the Membership Secretary on the appropriate form and be accompanied by the appropriate membership fee.

14. Termination of membership

Any member giving notice of resignation or being in arrears on 28 February in any year will be deemed to have resigned and the Membership Secretary will remove his/her name from the register of members.

15.Voting rights

Only current ordinary members may vote. Voting at all meetings will be by a show of hands. Tellers will be nominated by the Chairman should the need arise. The Chairman will have a casting vote if a tie is declared.

16. Notice of meetings

Not less than seven days notice in writing shall be given for the Annual General Meeting and not less than seven days notice for any Extra-ordinary General meeting. Committee members shall be given a calling notice for a committee meeting at least seven days in advance.

All details of regular meetings and the AGM are published in the MBA Handbook and on the website.

17. Finance

The Treasurer is responsible for all the financial transactions of the Association. There are to be two signatories on all cheques, one must always be the Treasurer and the other can be an elected member of the management committee. The financial year will run from 1st January to 31st December. The Treasurer is responsible for presenting the audited accounts at the Annual General Meeting.

18. Bee Disease Insurance

All members who hold a stock of bees must pay annually the BDI premiums. The premiums will be collected by the Treasurer with the payment of the subscription for the minimum number of hives. Additional premiums can be paid up to a maximum of 40 hives. The cost of additional premiums will appear on the enrolment form.

19. Winding-up

A proposal for the winding up of the MBA must be put to an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting of the membership. To be effective such a proposal must be carried by a minimum of 75% of Ordinary members present and written proxy votes. If upon winding up of the MBA there remains after the satisfaction of all debts and liabilities any property or funds these are to be transferred to HBA for use by the Executive in any way they see to benefit beekeeping in the County.


Meridian’s shop has British wax foundation purchased by the association from Kemble Bees. Buying this high quality foundation in bulk means we are able to offer it for sale to members at a reduced cost.

Wired British Standard National brood foundation is £1.33 per sheet and unwired National foundation (which can be used for super frames; one sheet will fill two frames) is £1.20 per sheet.

To buy wax, please contact Denise Smith at denise.smith200@gmail.com tel: 07525 753025

To purchase the discounted stock items below, please contact Richard. Appointments to try on suits can also be made by contacting Richard. Mobile number 078 1264 2970.


BS DN4 Hoffman (self-spacing) Brood Frames & Pins £17.50, (comparable item at Thornes £21.50)

BS SN4 Hoffman (self spacing) Super Frames & Pins (11 frames) £17.50 (Thornes £21.50)

SN4 Hoffman Super Frames & Pins (bulk pack, 55 frames) £70 (Thorne’s price £230)


National Premium Wooden Hive with 2 Supers, nails and pins. Flat pack £200 (Thorne’s price £475)

Poly Mating Hive Complete with Inserts. £10

BS National flat roof £46. (Thorne’s price £60)

BS National premium hive roof £30 (Thorne’s price £37)

Tools and equipment

Contact Bucket Feeder 4.5L £3.50 (Thorne’s price £7.50

Honey Settling Tank with valve. (25L) £15.99

Stainless Steel Smoker with Fire Guard & Cartridge. £16 (Thorne’s price £42.95)

Stainless Steel Smoker with Fire Guard and Cartridge. £16 (Thorne’s price £42.95)

Stainless Steel Smoker and Cartridge. £12 (Thorne’s price £24.95)

Metal handle honey storage bucket, 25 litres £10 (Thorne’s price £21)

Honey gate/valve £2. (Thorne’s price £8.50)

Queen marker pen, yellow £1.50. (Thorne’s price (£3.50)

Steel National frame runners (pair) £2.50 (Thorne’s £2.50)


Buzz Defender Jacket, 2XL Grey £55

Buzz Defender Jacket, 2XL Grey £55

Buzz Defender Jacket, fencing, 3XL Grey £55

Buzz Professional Khaki Suit – Size : 3XL- Fencing £30

Buzz Professional Khaki Suit – Size : 4XL – Fencing £30

Buzz Professional Khaki Suit – Size : 5XL – Fencing £30

Buzz Defender Grey Suit – Suit Size : 3XL – Round £55

Buzz Work Wear White Leather Soft Hide Gloves – Size : 2XL £10

Size guide for Buzz clothing

To purchase items, please contact Richard. Appointments to try on suits can also be arranged with Richard. His mobile number is 078 1264 2970.

Items can be collected from the Meridian Store in West End or at Association Meetings.

Most members purchase other supplies personally online, however, if you are unable to do this yourself, Meridian will be happy to order on your behalf and could look into discounts where appropriate.

Preparing Honey for Sale and Show

Moisture content in honey

Ideally, honey should contain less than 17.8% water. If the moisture content is higher than 20%, it may ferment due to the presence of yeasts in the honey.

Honey is hygroscopic and if it is not carefully stored in a sealed container it will absorb moisture from the air.

The internationally recognised standard is that honey should have a moisture content of less than 20%. (23% for Heather honey in the UK). With a high degree of accuracy, Beekeepers must ensure moisture levels in their honey is within the legal limits.

The best way to ensure your honey is ready to harvest is by only spinning out capped honey. Some beekeepers use a refractometer to check the moisture content in their honey is within legal tolerances. Here is a link to UK honey legislation. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/1348/made


  • Always maintain clean comb in your supers – use starter strips and about three full sheets per super.
  • Try to extract honey as soon as possible after it’s capped to avoid it setting.
  • Always use clean utensils and equipment.
  • Make sure the extractor is spotlessly clean.
  • Keep honey or comb covered to protect it from dust.

Clear Honey

  • After extraction, you may need to warm the honey to about 40c for about 4 hours before fine filtering. Then allow it to stand in a settling tank for about 48 hours to allow all air to bubble to the top. You may speed-up this process with a small heat source under the settling tank (about 60 watts – no more)
  • To keep honey clear, warm it for 10 hours in a cabinet at 40c. It will remain clear for about six weeks. Do not overheat as the honey will be spoilt and can only be used for cooking. Another way is to place your jars in a water bath on a piece of wood (to save the jars from breaking), bring up to 70c, turn off the heat, cover with a lid or newspaper and leave for 25 minutes.
  • When all the air has reached the top, you can use a plastic scraper to smooth the bubbles off the surface. If bubbles remain on the top of the honey in the settling tank, air will converge just above the tap and the last few jars will have all the froth in them. Another solution is to skim off the froth and use at home!
  • When bottling, hold the jar as close to the tap as you can so that as little air as possible is added as the honey falls into the jar.
  • Before labelling for sale, make sure the jar isn’t sticky.
  • Clean the outside of the jars with some form of glass cleaner or meths and polish with a soft cloth. Handle carefully so as not to put smears on the jar or lid.

Soft set honey

Soft set honey is also known as creamed honey. The benefit of honey prepared in this way is that it will always remain pliable. It is prepared by warming and then ‘creaming’ the honey with a blender as seen in Louise’s video.

Soft set is a good way of blending different types of honey. The creamer should never break the surface of the honey to avoid excess air getting into it.

Place your warmed honey (40c) in a settling tank, add any other honey you want to blend and mix together using the creamer until an even consistency is achieved. Allow the honey to settle for 12 hours. Then bottle the honey and label as soft set.

The remainder in the tank should be creamed again and allowed to settle for another 12 hours before bottling. This method keeps the air to a minimum and will minimise any frosting. This can then be sold as creamed honey and should be good for a considerable time.

Cut comb honey

When selecting comb for cut comb honey for show, make sure that the cappings are even and as white as possible. Of course, this also applies to comb for sale but in this case you don’t need a matching pair.

Avoid having honey on the surface of the wax and around the container. It looks unsightly and detracts from the appearance of a first-class product.

For combs with clear honey for show put the comb on a wire grid, wiping the cutter between each piece cut. For show, always cut in the same direction. You can be disqualified for failing to do that. 

Allow the comb to stand on the wire grid to let the surplus honey drain out. Then carefully place into the container. You do not need to take these precautions with heather honey as it is thixotropic.

Cut comb honey draining on a grid
  • Most shows require a matching pair of jars. This means jars of identical shape, mould numbers on the bottom and lids
  • Follow the show labelling instructions; if it says half an inch from the bottom of the jar; put them there!