On Sunday 8 May, Louise and Denise hosted the second of the practical sessions; the culmination our most recent introduction to beekeeping course.
There were eight new beekeepers present; Jane Dunham, Rachel Cole, David Bence, Tom Wells, David Redman, Paul and Alex Whitfield and Eileen Mansfield.
The sun shone, the bees were on their best behaviour and Denise and Louise enjoyed being back as a group post lockdown.
During the hive inspections, a queen was spotted, eggs, pearly whites, drones , young bees and bees emerging were all seen. There was also plenty of pollen coming in and dancing going on.
The differences between nectar, uncapped honey, capped brood and capped honey were demonstrated and during the inspection, some drone larvae was disturbed which provided an opportunity to observe varroa feeding on the larvae.
Wax moth trails were spotted in another hive, the frame was tapped revealing the moth’s larva which was flicked from the hive to become bird food!
Louise and Denise were delighted by the calm approach displayed by all the new beekeepers and the competence with which they handled the frames and their hive tools.
Thanks to Robin for allowing the use of his hive and as always, to John and Sarah for use of the apiary.
Denise adds that all the students did very well and that she and Louise were impressed that they had remembered how to lift and turn a frame!
We hope that everybody enjoyed the day and that it is just the start of a long and rewarding beekeeping journey.
Thank you to those who attended the briefing on the Asian Hornet. Together, with the education of members and spring queen trapping (with traps adapted to prevent the slaughter of other beneficial species) we can make a very good effort to prevent this species establishing itself here.
With concerted effort, it will be one less hazard for beekeeping and reserve public funds for better purposes.
Our thanks go to Andrew Durham for all his research and the presentation. I am much amused that his risk assessment shows that his colonies are some of the least at risk. Mine, sadly are close to the Hamble estuary!
Our thanks go to Simon Fitzjohn who has been prototyping the museliere for us to copy and adapting wasp traps we already had for members to trial. Simon has produced several variants of the trap so that we can assess what works best.
The traps were distributed to Meridian members at the Practical day on 23 April.
Remember: attractant for Asian hornet traps is pressed apple juice and/or fermented cappings or honey from the solar extractor – with a mechanism (ie: mesh) to stop other insects drowning in the liquid and an escape.
From: Andrew Durham
Subject: Asian Hornet Briefing 20th March – Notes for Website
I have decided that to save time (and help your members with the detail) to produce a pdf of the whole of the Integrated defence in the Apiary section and send it to you for posting on your website as a resource for your members.
It was a beautiful day for an apiary meeting; warm enough to keep our bees happy but cool enough to be comfortable in a bee suit. These two short videos give a flavour of the day. Denise led us through the Meridian colonies, both of which were looking good. Denise had successfully completed Bailey comb changes on both colonies just eleven days prior and the bees had responded by drawing out beautiful (surprisingly yellow) fresh comb.
They had also built up strongly since the completion of the comb changes on 13 April and there was plenty of brood at all stages in both colonies too. All the boxes had been refurbished recently and the bees were given new foundation so everything in both hives was pristine and new. The bees were joy to behold and displayed a temperament to match.
The West End apiary is developing well and will be a great asset to the Association going forward.
Sunday 3 April began with sunshine, coffee and bee chat. Chris, Denise, Phil, Louise, Richard and Bryn gathered at Richard’s home in West End to clean kit and prepare equipment for the forth-coming season.
Chris Jordan had kindly bequeathed his equipment to Meridian. Louise attended the funeral and Richard collected the kit from the family.
The team scraped and flamed supers and boxes; cut out old wax, cleaned up lots of frames in the burco boiler, rendered wax, all the time sharing bee-keeping anecdotes, plans and tales.
Thanks to Chris Jordan we have additional hives for West End and another suit for beginners.
Richard kept us well furnished with tea and coffee. Fourteen other people had said they could come and help, so unfortunately we didn’t get as many frames made up as we would have liked and our work took all day but it was enjoyable nevertheless.
Maybe next time you might join us for an hour? We’d be delighted to see you.
On Friday 11th March, Louise, Terry Lacey (former Meridian Treasurer) and I attended the funeral of Scott Peters, aged 95 years.
My association with him had begun on a Meridian course in 2005. ‘Scottie’, eight years my senior, was a character and my ‘bee buddy’ who I shared many happy, some good, some bad, hours, days and years learning about and keeping bees.
Both of us, being full of keen enthusiasm, found a common interest in making our own equipment, attending auctions, meetings and conventions.
After learning the correct way to keep bees on Alan’s introductory course, we were all told that we had passed and that I was lucky to have a mentor who lived just down the road (Louise) if I had any problems.
Sound advice I’m sure, but knowing that mentors are busy people, and call it pride but there is an embarrassment in thinking you’ve done something stupid!
Scottie and I were both retired so could visit each other to discuss daft mistakes we had made with the bonus that a morning’s discussions could be followed by a meal and a pint!
The sitting room chairs at Scottie’s house were sited next to a bay window where one could observe the entrances of a couple of hives, with tea and biscuits provided by Una, Scottie’s long suffering wife.
These observations would result in new ideas and plans to ‘improve’ our bees’ environment. Constructing new mesh floors, adapting entrances, larger brood boxes etc. The plans would be carried out in my workshop.
On one memorable occasion Scottie asked for my assistance in spinning his honey. I’d already done mine with my wife in our conservatory using a four frame manual hand spinner. Scottie had a superior model with an electric drive. He kept it in the corner of a 6’ x 8’ washroom, which also contained a sink and stack of supers with just enough room for two operators.
The outside wall had a 2’6’’ opening window. I was aware of a few insects sharing our space. As the frames were put into the extractor and spinning begun, the room got quickly darker as bees covered the window. The room was filling with bees wanting their honey back!
The little room was evacuated and the door firmly shut as we called for beesuits! It was decided to open the window to assist the bees exit. The vacuum cleaner was used. Time to retire for a cup of tea provided by Una, God bless her!
We were involved together in many other projects. Hive stands for Lainston House to site bees along the lime avenue for delicious green honey, construction of a dartington long hive, and latterly a change over to the Rose hive system.
One of Scottie’s last projects was to move his hives into a Beehouse made from a good quality shed sited in his daughter Sharon’s garden. This project ended when he got badly stung one evening and spent nine days in hospital.
Beekeeping with Scottie was always adventurous and never dull: we learnt a lot together and enjoyed every minute of it. He could be outspoken, even blunt on occasion. To me, as a close friend, he will be very badly missed and never forgotten.
Colin Bowsher, March 2022
Some more from Scott’s daughter, Sharon
Scott Peters 1927 – 2022.
Although born in Portsmouth, Dad was a country boy at heart and often talked with great fondness about living with the thatcher in Thrutxon as an evacuee.
One of the many things he remembered from his days with the thatcher was the importance of telling the bees.
I also remember Alan Jonhson demolishing this myth, telling us bees were deaf, although l do wonder if they pick up some pheromones from us standing by the hive?
upon retirement, Dad rebuilt a wooden folk boat and had some great adventures including sailing single handed to the Azores and back. This hobby came to a spectacular end, when after losing the rudder off Lulworth Cove he and I limped back to Portsmouth through the 2005 Trafalgar celebrations. We were promptly arrested by armed marines for entering the exclusion zone and then towed home.
After that, he was open to new ideas, where he could keep his feet firmly on the ground.
I had just started the Meridian introductory course, and after a couple of weeks he joined me and never looked back. He was deeply interested in the life and habits of bees, verbally sparring with Alan and enjoyed the intelligent, good humoured company of the association.
He learnt quickly and read widely. He was furious when he failed the BBKA basic exam, not through lack of knowledge, but because he had tried to cram all his answers into the spaces on the exam paper instead of in the answer booklet!
We worked out it was more than sixty years since he had last sat an exam so this was understandable but it still rankled!
Scott also hugely enjoyed the woodwork associated with bee keeping and quickly filled his shed, then mine, with hives, supers and frames, much to mum’s disgust. He was aways keen to try new ideas and for a while having three hives inside a shed, with individual plastic ducting entrances was very successful. Just watching the bees come and go, and identifying the pollen they were bring home gave him much pleasure.
As did visiting his hives at Monument Farm on Portsdown hill when the rape crop was in full bloom.
Another source of pleasure was his friendship with Colin, and their queen breeding enterprises. Many happy hours were spent planning, building and adapting equipment. Some interesting structures emerged, but as far as l know, no queens!
Scott was a very sociable, and relished the meetings, stewarding at the Royal Bath & West show and the guest lectures arranged by Meridian. Always happy to chat to everyone and share a joke.
Enjoyed too, were the trips to the New Forest for the heather season, the picnics and apiary meetings at Twyford.
When he retired from beekeeping at the age of 92, it was Meridian who helped me with the sale of his equipment. His bees and hives went next door to my generous neighbours and were put to good use. Sadly, they suffered colony collapse in 2020, and my neighbour complains the new bees do not have the gentle temperament of Scott’s bees. Coincidental? Who knows.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bee Disease Insurance Limited (BDI) provides insurance for the replacement of beekeeping equipment should it have to be destroyed due to an incidence of a notifiable disease such as European or American Foul Brood.
Public and product liability insurance is also provided through your membership via other policies. Registered, Partner, Honorary and Junior members are covered by the BBKA insurance policy which has a £10,000,000 limit of liability.
Who owns BDI?
Bee Disease Insurance Limited is run by beekeepers for beekeepers. The owners of BDI are the Participating Beekeepers’ Associations (BKAs) and their members. Each BKA holds one share which cannot be transferred. No dividends are paid. If the company is wound up, the assets would be disposed of in a manner approved by a special general meeting and calculated to benefit a majority of the general class of beekeepers in England and Wales. Bee Disease Insurance Limited uses part of its surplus to help fund research into bee health improvement. They are currently running a two year whole apiary shook swarm trail as a new method of controlling European Foul Brood.
What does BDI cover?
BDI compensates insured beekeepers for equipment losses where their bees are destroyed or treated under the Bees Act 1980, The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (England) Order 2006 and The Bee Diseases and Pests Control (Wales) Order 2006, or any similar order in force at the time, for notifiable diseases, currently European Foul Brood (EFB) and American Foul Brood (AFB) by a Bee Inspector appointed by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). There is a limited fund if Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps arrives (see below). BDI is only available to beekeepers living in England and Wales.
How does BDI work with BBKA, WBKA, and the Bee Inspection Service?
BDI is independent, but works closely with them all. The majority of beekeepers insured by BDI are members of WBKA and BBKA but not all. The NBU Bee Inspectors diagnose and destroy or treat colonies and will certify the losses.
BDI encourages all Beekeeping Associations (BKAs) in England and Wales to become BDI members so their beekeepers can have the benefit of compensation. Even though some areas are considered to be low risk for foul brood, in reality it should be seen as a threat everywhere, as it appears regularly in unexpected areas. This could be as a result of infected stock movement not known to local beekeepers.
Who pays BDI?
It is a condition of membership that all BKAs who are BDI Members pay their subscription based on the number of beekeeping members they have. How each association collects their premiums is up to them. Some BKAs include it in their subscription, others as an add on. If the latter is chosen, there is no opt-out, so the BKA will have to pay it if the beekeeper does not. Premiums for additional colonies are also paid to the BKA.
BDI is included in my Meridian subscription – what am I paying for?
The basic payment to BDI is termed subscription and includes cover for up to three colonies. If you have more than three you should pay an additional amount, or you can make additions at any time if you expect your colony numbers to increase above the basic level of cover.
When increasing your level of cover, you should be aware that under the terms of the insurance, you are subject to the 40 day rule. The 40 day rule also applies if you are late with your subscription.
What is the 40 day rule?
The rule was introduced to protect all beekeepers and to stop beekeepers seeking cover only when they discovered they had Foul Brood. All subscriptions and premiums paid before 31 March will take effect immediately.
Any subscriptions and premiums paid after 31 March will not enjoy cover until 40 days after payment has been made to the local BKA. It is therefore sensible for the beekeeper to pay on time and to allow for any expected increase in the numbers of colonies during the season, (due to swarm control, collecting swarms, queen rearing etc).
How many colonies should I cover?
All colonies owned by a beekeeper must be covered; otherwise none are, even if only one colony is destroyed. Many beekeepers underestimate the numbers of colonies they might have during the active season, so BDI introduced a banding scheme to help ensure that beekeepers who collect swarms, make artificial swarms or nuclei during the season do not find themselves with inadequate cover.
If, for example, you normally run ten colonies but have the equipment and facilities to have more, you should consider paying the premium for the next band. The important thing when considering how many to cover is to make an accurate count of the starting number of colonies and then to add the plans, hopes and expectations of increase in the coming season.
Should all bees on a communal site be covered?
All colonies on a communal site (like an association apiary) must be covered with BDI taken out by the respective owners, otherwise none are covered.
A communal site is defined as a permanent or temporary apiary site, shared by two or more beekeepers. BDI consider that apiary sites on the opposite side of the same field are separate apiaries but if in the same garden would be communal, however each case must be considered on its merits. If in doubt, it is best to ensure that each beekeeper has cover and if not, then do not use the site.
Communal BKA sites normally have robust rules, so a check with the apiary manager is all that is required. If the BKA is a BDI member, then it is obliged to collect subscriptions and premiums from all its members so by default all users of the site have the opportunity to be fully covered, but it is still your responsibility to check.
How are the compensation rates calculated?
BDI does not offer compensation on a new for old basis. The compensation rates are based on 90% of the catalogue prices of a well-known major beekeeping equipment supplier in the UK. The maximum compensation payable to an individual is £2,500 in any one year of insurance.
I have been told my compensation claim has been reduced – why is this?
Compensation claims can be reduced for the following reasons:
* The combs and equipment are old and/or are in poor condition. This will be at the discretion of the Bee Inspector.
* If a claim has been made in both the previous two years, compensation will be reduced by 25%. – If claims have been made in all the previous three years, compensation will be reduced by 50%. – If claims have been made in all the previous four years, compensation will be reduced by 75%.
Am I still covered if I make a claim?
On the payment of a claim for any reason, or if a claim for colony destruction on account of Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps is accepted, the number of colonies covered is reduced proportionately; ie, by the number of colonies destroyed.
If the number of colonies subsequently increases additional insurance must be obtained and will be subject to the 40-day rule.
Are Apideas or other mini-nucs covered?
Apideas are not included in the compensation rates and they do not have to be counted as a colony. No compensation is payable so no premiums are required to be paid in respect of mini-nucs.
Should a Nucleus Box be counted?
Yes. Any single colony containing standard frames, which are included in the compensation list, should be included. Each nucleus, whatever the size counts as one colony.
Why are top bars from TBH/Warre hives not covered?
Top bars are usually home made and the compensation rate includes the cost of foundation which isn’t normally used. This has been stated on the compensation rates section to avoid misunderstanding.
If I take swarms during the year will they be included?
If the swarm is collected with the intention of keeping and hiving it, then obviously it becomes part of your property and is counted as one colony. You must allow for this possible increase when calculating your dues. If, as often happens, you collect a swarm and before it is hived, pass it on to another member who is short of bees, it is the responsibility of the new owner to cover them.
I have just bought some bees that have foul brood – what do I do?
If they are likely to have been infected when you bought them, then you should claim from the seller. The National Bee Unit will probably inspect the seller’s apiary.
The banding means I insure for more colonies than I have – why?
Experience shows that a number of beekeepers consistently under-pay by not declaring all the colonies they actually have, or will have, or creep above due to normal increase. Sometimes this happens because they collect and keep a swarm, or have one given to them, which they did not expect to keep. It is to help beekeepers avoid this problem that banding was introduced. It seems to be working because the number of cases of underpayment has fallen significantly since banding was introduced.
Will the compensation be paid if I under-state the number of my colonies?
The scheme can only operate with members acting in good faith, so to knowingly under-pay is to breach the basis of trust on which the scheme operates. It means that other beekeepers have to pay more to make up for the premiums lost as a result of the under- payment. Consistent or intentional underpayment will result in any claim for compensation being rejected. Similar rules apply to most forms of compensation arrangements. The managers of the scheme have always dealt with cases on an individual basis, exercising discretion where appropriate.
Can I make suggestions to improve the scheme?
If a member BKA or beekeepers have ideas for improving the scheme please let BDI know. Provided they are practicable, do not contradict the registered rules of BDI Ltd and appear to be the wishes of the majority, then you can expect the Management Committee to consider the proposals. However, please remember that the Directors and Officers may be personally liable if BDI Ltd is not run on a sound financial and business-like basis. It is essential therefore, that beekeepers pay the correct dues for their colonies.
Can BDI cover for other risks?
Under their registration, BDI is unable to cover for other risks. Many risks the beekeeper may need to insure against will be covered by a household policy or by WBKA and BBKA policies.
Are the premiums I have paid secure?
BDI is regulated as an insurance company by the Prudential Regulatory Authority and supervised by the Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. As such it has to maintain sufficient solvency to be able to meets its likely claims based on policies issued. The company does not pay dividends, so all retained earnings are available to support the company’s activities.
Am I covered in respect of Small Hive Beetle and the Tropilaelaps mite?
The Directors have agreed that there should be a scheme in the event of these pests arriving in England or Wales. As with varroa, when they do arrive they may well become endemic and have to be managed as an element of routine beekeeping practice. Compensation for the destruction of honey bee colonies because of Small Hive Beetle and Tropilaelaps infestation is consistent with BDI’s founding principles, that a compensation scheme encourages beekeepers to come forward if there is any cause for concern. It was agreed in 2006 that BDI cover should be extended to compensate for the statutory destruction of colonies, hives and equipment on account of either Small Hive Beetle or Tropilaelaps infestations. A maximum amount of £50,000 per annum will be available to cover claims. Each eligible claim will be covered to a maximum of £150 per hive. This amount will be adjusted to take into account the condition of equipment (excellent – as new, good or poor, as certified by the Bee Inspector) providing the beekeeper is not otherwise insured or entitled to obtain compensation elsewhere. The amount will be calculated pro-rata between all claims in any year, so if they collectively exceed £50,000, each claim will be proportionately reduced. Settlement will be made after all claims for that year are processed. Should these pests become endemic and statutory control abandoned, then BDI compensation cover will cease.
I am a full registered member of two beekeeping groups, do I need to pay the basic BDI to both associations?
If both groups are members of BDI then you will have to pay the minimum subscription of £2 to both groups as it is a condition of being a member of each group. Both subscriptions cover you for 3 hives; therefore, if you have 6 hives, you do not need to insure for any additional colonies. I keep my bees on a communal site. Are there any special considerations? All colonies on a communal site need to be insured with BDI for any claims to be paid. As all members of a BDI member group will be insured this should not be an issue if all the users of the communal site are members of your group. You should make sure that there is no-one using the site who is not a member of your group and therefore might not have BDI cover. I know there are feral colonies nearby, will this affect any claim I might make? Provided the feral colonies are not on your apiary site (and therefore not likely to be under your control) then any claim will not be affected by their presence in the neighbourhood.
I am a Junior member of the BBKA. Do I need to pay BDI?
If you manage colonies with another full member of the BBKA (eg, your parent) who insures the colonies you jointly manage, then you do not need to pay BDI. This is the default position for your local association – not to charge you BDI as part of your subscription to the local group. If however you keep bees that are not insured by anyone else, then you should declare these hives to your local treasurer or membership secretary and pay the appropriate premium with your subscription. Your membership receipt will note the name of an adult who can act on your behalf in the event of any claim. This approach applies to both your BBKA and BDI subscription
This article is based on a Q&A produced by Bee Disease Insurance Limited. For further information including detailed reports on the research projects funded, please go to the BDI website.
Meridian and Meon Valley Beekeepers’ are pleased to invite you to our first joint venture, Bee Health Day on Saturday 2 April between 10.30 and 15.45 at Warnford Village Hall, SO32 3LB. The aim of the day is to improve our skills so we can keep our bees healthier.
There’ll be microscopes set-up with slides and advisers on hand to provide tuition on how to recognised Nosema and other common bee diseases.
You’ll be able to check a sample of your own bees for Nosema and you’ll have an opportunity to learn how to dissect bees to check for Acarine.
There will also be a flower and pollen microscope with talk and a bee anatomy and dissection demonstration by Master Beekeeper James Donaldson.
It should be a wonderfully informative and enjoyable event and of course, there’ll be refreshments throughout the day.
There’s free parking on site and transportation (from specific locations) is available for those who would find that more convenient.
Don’t panic! Most bees will show a few spores when tested.
Nosema needs controlling and here are a few simple things you can do to give your bees the best start in spring.
● Replace the brood box, floor and crown board with clean sterilised kit.
● Give your bees new foundation. You can undertake either a Bailey Comb change (for weaker colonies), shook swarm (for strong colonies) or any other method you normally use as part of your spring clean. New wax foundation usually invigorates the bees and gives them a good start in spring.
● You can add Thymol to your spring feed (1:1 sugar syrup) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Thymol acts as a fungicide and is made from oil of Thyme. Some research has shown this treatment helps to reduce microsporidian spores. Please note however, Thymol is not an approved treatment for Nosema. You should also remember that Thymol can leave a residue in honey.
● HiveAlive is a complementary feed that is claimed to promote good health and well- being in bees stating that healthy bees are more able to fight diseases such as Nosema. Active ingredients are: Thymol, Lemon Grass and Oceashield seaweed extract. Hive Alive
● Try not to squash bees when doing an inspection. An infected worker bee can carry up to 50 million spores in its gut.
● Minimise bee stress. Take care during inspections not to over-smoke, keep the hive open too long or drop frames. Always take care to handle your bees as gently as possible.