Membership renewal 2022

Zara, Phil, Catherine, Louise, Richard, Dawn, Colin, Nicky, Simon, Robin, Tom, Ceri (front row) Tim, George, Rachel, Denise and Howard behind the camera); the attendees at Meridian’s last apiary meeting of 2021 at Swanmore on Saturday 11 September.
Existing members

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to renew your Meridian membership. You can do so by clicking on the link we recently sent you.

Check your details are up-to date, then select the number of hives you are planning to run and the membership category you require (via the drop down menus) and your subscription will be automatically calculated.

The renewal link must be used for existing members. Please do not send your subscription without completing the online form as this may result in a delay to your membership. Any applications made after we have completed our return will result in a delay to your insurance cover and to the receipt of BBKA news.

Once you have submitted the online form, you can send your payment electronically to Meridian’s bank account as usual.

Meridian Beekeepers, Lloyds Bank, Bishops Waltham, 30-90-85, 00962116. Please use your surname as a reference.

New members and those wishing to rejoin

If your membership lapsed in 2021 and you would like to rejoin in 2022, please complete the application form: Membership application form 2022. This form can also be used for new membership applications.

Does my bum look big in this?

The membership fees for 2022 remain unchanged and are as follows:

  • Full membership £38.00
  • Partner membership £17.00
  • Associate membership £16.00
  • Junior Membership £16.00

If you are considering joining Meridian for the first time or would like more information on what’s included in each membership category, please click here for a full explanation. Classes of membership and fees

Changes to British Beekeepers’ Association and Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association subscriptions

The BBKA has increased its 2022 subscription for full members from £19.00 to £21.00 and Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association (HBKA) is restoring its annual fee to £5.00 from £2.00 last year. As Meridian did not reduce your subscription in response to HBKA’s previous reductions, we’re are able to maintain your overall subscription at the levels of the past few years.

If you have any questions at all about membership, please don’t hesitate to contact Howard

Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association propositions adopted at BBKA ADM 2022

At the BBKA Annual Delegates Meeting on 13th January, 2022, HBA proposed two of the three most significant propositions discussed by over sixty associations at the meeting. Both propositions were passed by large majorities and are now therefore adopted as BBKA policy.

The first proposition reinforces BBKA’s opposition to the importation of honey bees. It was passed by 52 in favour and 12 against and is as follows:-

• In light of the great threat to the UK’s honey bees from the potential importation of non-native pests and diseases, BBKA re-affirms its complete opposition to the importation of honey bees, including individual queens, from overseas countries and the ADM mandates the EC to lobby the Government to introduce a complete ban on the import of honey bees.

The second proposition calls on the Government to prepare a comprehensive plan to counter the spread of the Asian Hornet across the UK when it arrives in large numbers within the UK. This was passed by 62 delegates with just two opposed :-

• The BBKA should continue to support the NBU in eradication of Asian Hornet incursions.  BBKA should call on the Government to prepare a comprehensive plan by the end of June 2022 for the implementation of a wide scale monitoring and control programme to counter the spread of the Asian Hornet across the UK should the National Bee Unit resources be overwhelmed by Asian Hornet incursions.

HBA represents Hampshire’s beekeepers and its fourteen local associations at the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Annual Delegate Meeting and can influence national policy on honey bees and beekeeping.

Talk: threat of the Asian hornet

Meridian Beekeepers is delighted to present a talk about the threat of the Asian Hornet by Andrew Durham of Cambridge Beekeepers.

Andrew will describe the alarming situation in France where the Asian Hornet is damaging eco-systems and affecting everybody, not just beekeepers.

Andrew will explain the lifecycle of this invasive pest and the effects of predation on honeybee populations. He’ll also cover why there are more hornets in some years and why some areas are more infested than others.

Date : Sunday 20th March 2022

Time : 2-4pm

Venue: Botley Market Hall. Botley High Street, SO30 2EA

The event is free to all but please pre-register with Louise Evans at This is so we can keep an eye on numbers in these uncertain times and advise you of any last minute changes.

There is free parking at the Market Hall. If you are coming by train, it is a 15 minute walk downhill from Botley Station (there are no taxis there). There is also a bus stop outside the Market Hall. Botley is is on routes 3, 8, 8b and 26.

Andrew Durham is a Cambridgeshire beekeeper who has spent the last six years researching the Asian hornet. He had three main objectives;

* to understand the effect of the hornet’s predation on honeybees.

* to quantify the threat and to formulate a defence strategy building on the lessons learnt by our neighbours across the Channel since the Hornet’s arrival in France in 2004.

Andrew first became aware of the threat during travels in France. In 2015, realising that the hornet was on the verge of invading the UK, he became determined that he, and the UK generally, should benefit from the lessons learnt in France. Andrew regularly reports his findings in BBKA news.

The first sighting of an Asian Hornet in the UK was in 2016. Since then, there has been twenty confirmed sightings and ten nests have been destroyed. The last confirmed sighting was in 2021 in Ascot, Berkshire where the nest was located and destroyed. UK Government

There are links to more information on the Asian Hornet here.

Bees, honey and love

Since the beginning of time, honey and bees have been associated with love. Honey, long considered the food of the gods and an aphrodisiac, is also the key ingredient of mead, the tipple of lovers; it’s not called a honeymoon for nothing! But honey’s romantic credentials go much further than that.

St Valentine

Valentine lived in the third century, when the Roman Empire was at its peak. At the time, it was thought that single men made better soldiers and marriage for them was banned. Valentine was found guilty of secretly marrying soldiers to their sweethearts.

While in jail, awaiting execution, he began to convert his jailers to Christianity. To prove his faith, the head-jailer asked Valentine to heal his blind daughter, which Valentine did by praying with his hands over her eyes. After his execution, a letter addressed to the jailer’s daughter was found in Valentine’s cell, it was signed ‘your Valentine.’

Most people know that St Valentine is the patron saint of romance, but did you know he is also the patron of beekeeping? He’s charged with ensuring the sweetness of honey and the protection of beekeepers.

Protector of Beekeepers

Bees symbolize love and beekeepers symbolize the protection of marriage and family. By managing their hives and caring for bees, beekeepers are said to ensure that bees flourish and honey continues to flow.

Keeping bees successfully is a special calling; it requires knowledge and experience, but it’s said it also requires a kind and gentle heart. To protect these protectors of bees, St. Valentine was made the patron saint of Beekeepers in 496A.D.

Then there is Cupid, the Roman god of desire and erotic love, he too had a taste for honey.

Drawing on the mythology of the Greek god of love Eros, Cupid is sometimes said to dip his arrows in honey before firing them at soon to be love-struck individuals, filling them with the sweetness of love. But beware, he could choose to dip his arrows in bile condemning his miserable victims to a lifetime of unrequited love.

The National Gallery’s collection includes the famous painting Cupid complaining to Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

The picture shows Cupid complaining to his mother Venus having been stung whilst stealing honey from a hive. The moral of the story – you can’t have the sweetness of love without the danger of getting stung. You can read more about the painting at The National Gallery

Myths from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome highlight the powerful romantic effect bees have on humans; from Cupid dipping his arrows in honey, to Ra, the sun god; his tears becoming bees to help him woo back his lost love.

Before a wedding in some cultures, the bride and groom walk through a swarm of bees. If neither are stung, their love is meant to be. Anybody getting married this year?

Petition to ban unnecessary pesticides

Professor Dave Goulding

A petition started by Professor Dave Goulding and supported by a host of conservation and health charities is calling for the UK Government to ban the use of pesticides in urban areas and to end their sale for use in gardens.

The petition, supported by RSPB, PAN UK, Friends of the Earth, Parkinson’s UK, Alliance for Cancer Prevention, Garden Organic, Soil Association, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Wildlife Gardening Forum, Real Farming Trust, Songbird Survival and many others, can be found online here.

The petition, launched on 5 August 2021 has already reached over 55,000 signatories. The launch coincided with the publication of Silent Earth, a new book outlining how the decline of wild bees and other insects is a potential catastrophe for us all.

Professor Goulding said “It’s simply crazy to spray poisons in our streets, parks and gardens for cosmetic purposes, where they harm bees and other wildlife and pose a risk to human health. We rely on insects to deliver a range of vital ‘ecosystem services’ such as pollination, and recycling of corpses & dung. They are also food for many larger animals and birds. Without them, our ecosystem will collapse.”

Professor Goulson explains in his new book that thirteen UK bee species have already gone extinct and Britain’s butterfly population has halved since the 1970s, with one in ten butterfly species becoming extinct.

As well as listing alarming evidence of the extent of insect declines in the UK, Silent Earth presents a range of solutions. It argues that one key way to help combat insect decline is to encourage wildlife in urban areas. The UK’s 22 million gardens, plus parks, road verges and other green spaces could form a network of wildlife-friendly habitats. However, this will only work if we stop spraying pesticides on these spaces.

At present, many local councils spray pesticides on pavements, paths and in parks, and even in children’s playgrounds. The most commonly used pesticide, Roundup, is harmful to bees, damages soil health, and is strongly suspected of causing non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in humans.

Similarly, many homeowners buy and use pesticides in their gardens, with no training, and often without wearing protective clothing. An extensive range of pesticides is readily available to consumers from garden centres, DIY chains, and supermarkets, including chemicals that are classified as carcinogens and neurotoxins.

According to Prof Goulson, none of this pesticide use is necessary or desirable. It makes no contribution to food production and safe and sustainable alternatives for weed control are available, where necessary. 

Some countries have already taken steps towards banning pesticides to protect insect and human health. France banned the use of all synthetic pesticides in public spaces in 2017 and then banned garden use from 2019.

In Canada, 170 cities and towns are pesticide-free, some of them having been so for 30 years. More than 70 towns and cities across the UK have already taken major steps towards going pesticide-free, including London boroughs, Manchester, Derry in Northern Ireland and North Lanarkshire in Scotland. These and other examples from around the world prove beyond doubt that these chemicals are unnecessary.

Pesticide use in urban areas is also a unpopular. Public polling commissioned by Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) and Sum of Us reveals that 68% of people think that their local schools, parks, playgrounds and other open spaces should be pesticide-free.

Josie Cohen from PAN UK said “Increasing numbers of local councils and amateur gardeners across the UK are moving away from using toxic pesticides and instead adopting the many safe and sustainable alternatives that are available. Ending pesticide use in urban areas and gardens is an achievable goal that would be a massive win for the health of both humans and wildlife.”

Stephanie Morren, senior policy officer at the RSPB said “Nature is in crisis, with 15% of UK species at risk of extinction and is getting squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces. But pesticide-free gardens and urban green spaces would provide vitally important homes for our incredible wildlife and help revive our world.”

“We hope this petition leads to public debate that will pave the way for government, local authorities and others to tackle situations where pesticides are used unnecessarily, such as in urban areas.”

The petition, supported by RSPB, PAN UK, Friends of the Earth, Parkinson’s UK, Alliance for Cancer Prevention, Garden Organic, Soil Association, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Wildlife Gardening Forum, Real Farming Trust, Songbird Survival and many others, can be found online here.

Lecture notes from HBKA convention 2021

One more thing to worry about :

Co-formulants by Ed Straw and Mark Brown

Firstly, thanks to Ed for helping Janelle out with the IT all day as our very own Richard Skinner tried gallantly to do it remotely from his COVID sick bed (He was really poorly). Many thanks to all the volunteers for a heroic effort.

What are co-formulants?

They are the product that make pesticides, fungicides and herbicides work and they aren’t tested at all. We concentrate our efforts on insecticides. So Ed Straw and Mark Brown researched co-formulants on buff tailed bumblebees (bombus terrestria) whose workers live for 28 days.

This was part of European Union funded research.

A bit about tests – what they miss and why neonicitinoides were declared ‘safe’

In the tests manufacturers conduct in accordance with legislation, the bees are subjected to a concentrated dose- if 50% survive then the manufacturer can write ‘safe for bees’ on the label. This is like us going to the GP having our pulse taken, confirming we’re alive and sending us on our way. It is not designed for longtitudinal study. Sub lethal effects are not picked up. So bees whose navigation is affected and die away from the hive over a period (neonicotinoids) are not picked up. Incidentally, to make matters worse nicotine is addictive so the bees actively seek it out.

But beekeepers knew something was wrong and kept at it. We can effect change. But we do need to broaden our tactics together.

Trying to test co-formulants

Manufacturers refuse to give detailed information about what is in their products, under commercial competition rules, so this makes testing and working out what is wrong very difficult.

Amistar came onto the market in 1999. It is a new class of chemical. It is the most widely used pesticide ever and says it is ‘safe for bees’. Co-formulants are benzisothiazol, napthalensufonic acid and alcohol ethoxylate (surfant and emulsifier) They have never been tested on bees – not at all.

It affected the bumblebees fat bodies and fat reserves and theynever recovered.  We know from varroa how important fat bodies are in fighting viruses, providing the bees with food through the winter months. Fat bodies aid the liver and kidneys of bees. 

Result of the tests

Why not testing the co-formulants is so dangerous. The co-formulant can be more toxic than the active ingredient. There are 280 ingredients in 2800 products; many untested.

Glyphosate itself, when used as the manufacturer directs is relatively OK, though we know that when Apis Cerane is present it makes the effects worse for our honeybees.

Roundup is terrible.

Its in fungicides, which are applied directly to open flowers such as strawberries 

Herbicides are used routinely.

Going forward – what to do

Talk to farmers! If they are spraying herbicide or fungicide to open flowers. Keep the bees in for the day. Have farmers sign up to and use Bee Connected ( to alert beekeepers in their area of impending spraying. Add a super for room and shade from the sun. Keep the bees in until such spraying is complete. The Bees will be unhappy but alive.

Advocate for all bees

There is 1 honeybee, 25 bumblebees and 250 solitary bees in UK. All essential for pollination. 7% pesticide effect is unsafe for solitary bee health. Let’s move the goalposts, we must unite our advocacy, education, information and lobbying. No division and rule distraction.

Meridian have for many years talked about the place of solitary bees, bumble bees and wasps in the environment on all our courses, this needs to become a standard.

European Union is moving ahead on the regulation of co-formulants. We are no longer part of European Union so will have to fight separately for legislation and fight for our bees and other insects.

Notes by Louise Evans , Meridian beekeepers

The trials and tribulations of first-time candle dipping

Steve working with his bees

A 2kg block of cleaned wax in our possession and the prospect of more energy companies collapsing – so what better way of spending a cold autumn afternoon and preparing for a cold dark winter than candle dipping –

How complicated could it be?

Having read the books and watched endless YouTube clips it seemed that all we needed was a double boiler arrangement, a melting container deep enough to produce a credible depth of candle and a length of wick ….

Not having an endless supply of wax, it was important to use something that gave us maximum depth whilst allowing us to create more than one candle at a time; we needed a deep, water container and a similarly deep melting pot.

The first attempt involved an empty five litre steel can with the top cut off and a deep, heat proof plastic container to hold the melted wax.

The plastic container seemed ok but the error of choosing something with such poor heat conduction soon became apparent, and we realised that it was going to take a long time to obtain the required quantity of melted wax – we continued, and eventually produced our first candles, but quickly realised that this method was not going to win any small business enterprise awards!

A quick search of candle making sites suggested that an aluminium “dipping tank” was what we needed, so a trip to Thornes and £11 later, we had acquired a 9” deep wax container which not only conducted heat really well but was also just over 3” in diameter which considerably reduced the amount of wax required. There are other, deeper melting pots available, but unless you are wishing to replicate the set of Phantom of the Opera, the smaller one is probably all you need.

A steel can with the top cut off acting as a reservoir for the hot water and the aluminium melting pot

The repeated boiling and cleaning of the wax demonstrated not just how far melted wax can travel across a wide range of kitchen surfaces and utensils but also how determined it is to remain there – so the candle making was moved outdoors using a portable gas stove supported with a few kettles of boiling water to kick start the process.

2mm wicks were cut to length and hex nuts attached to the ends to provide some initial tension; these were cut off as the candles grew.

After a few attempts that could only be described as slightly gruesome we established a routine of dipping, cooling and hanging that produced a candle of approx 6” long and 30g in weight (apologies for the mixed metric and imperial – but some things just don’t seem right).

Having struggled with melting larger pieces of wax on our first attempt, we grated wax off the cold block and used this to keep topping up the melting pot, again something that considerably speeded-up the process.

We reached a point where we could either grate all of the remaining wax and continue dipping candles or use the available melted wax to make tea lights – the end result being 24 “good candles”, 36 tea lights and 6 “odd” candles which will come in very handy for Halloween next year – and just over half a kilo of wax ready for the next project.

The candles, which had been dipped in pairs, cooling and hardening on a makeshift stand

Was it difficult? – not once we had understood and corrected our mistakes.

Was it costly? – the melting pot, wick, and tea light containers; probably £16 or so but most of the outlay on the melting pot.

Was it worthwhile? – ABSOLUTELY!!! A sunny autumn day with friends, bacon sandwiches and something incredibly satisfying to show for it.

There are some useful resources on wax processing (reclamation and cleaning) and candle-making in the Meridian Knowledgebase

Beautifully cleaned wax cut into manageable portions

Apiary tidy

Our end of season apiary tidy took place today and luckily, the rain (just about) held off! Thank you very much everyone who gave up their time to take part.

Chris doing a sterling job on the frames. As a team, we did pretty well today!

Louise went through the hives with Catherine and Lisa and found everything to be more or less in order. The colonies seemed strong with an impressive amount of brood sill in evidence and two or three of them are well provisioned for winter. As feared however, some of the others were light on stores, and as we’re coming to the end of the time we can feed syrup, we’ll watch and keep them supplied with fondant as necessary.

Catherine brought along Eileen, a potential new member and she greatly enjoyed the opportunity to inspect the bees. Nicky, Ritchie. Chris and Howard built enough frames to fill three brood boxes and a super and Simon did a great job on the boxes.

We all enjoyed chatting about bees and other things too! Catherine brought along some delicious cakes which was a personal highlight for me!

Simon impressed us all with his woodworking skills by building two brood chambers in no time at all. He also took away other kits to build some extra supers at home.

Apiary meeting report, Swanmore – Saturday 11 September

Zara, Phil, Catherine, Louise, Richard, Dawn, Colin, Nicky, Simon, Robin, Tom, Ceri (front row) Tim, George, Rachael, Denise (and Howard behind the camera); the attendees of Meridian’s last apiary meeting of 2021 at Swanmore on Saturday 11 September.

Here’s a short film from our last apiary meeting of the season (Saturday 11 September). Although overcast, it was a warm, dry day and the bees were very calm! Thanks to them for being on their best behaviour and thank you to Denise, Robin and Louise for leading the inspections and to Zara, Tom and Richard for taking notes. As always, our gratitude goes to the Hammond family for letting us use their meadow and putting-up with us all!

The meeting was well attended and enjoyable and we encountered a few interesting situations too. Don’t worry if you missed it, we still have the apiary tidy on Saturday 25 September when we’ll be getting the bees ready for winter as well as cleaning, repairing and building equipment. This event is always good fun and provides the perfect opportunity to get together at the end of summer to have a chat and ask questions.

The colonies inspected on Saturday were generally light on nectar and honey but seemed to be bringing-in and storing an impressive amount of pollen. We can only speculate as to the reasons, but either they’re busy raising winter bees or are confused by the late warm weather. Certainly, all that rain means that summer flowers are still going strong, providing good levels of late forage. We noticed too, that a few of the colonies were raising an impressive amount of brood and still had plenty of drones in evidence.

Louise’s group did varroa counts and found mite levels to be low. This is something many Meridian members have reported this year and Louise outlines possible explanations for this good news in the video.

Robin’s group found hive 1 has built-up strongly since it was created by splitting George’s hive (hive 5) on 2 August. Of all the colonies seen on Saturday, this had the greatest quantity of honey and nectar, with a fair amount in one of the supers. We will keep an eye on this though, as a change in weather could mean these stores are quickly depleted.

These bees, inspected by Denise’s group, are noticeably dark and small in nature, characteristics it’s said, of our native British bee. Notice the shiny lump of tree resin (collected to make propolis) on one of the bees’ legs

A couple of colonies were moved from West End recently to protect them from robbing and the video shows Denise inspecting one of these. The colony has built up strongly since it was transferred from a nuc a few weeks ago but it’s light on stores. Denise decided to move it back to West End to merge it with a queenless colony there. The queenless colony happens to have good reserves of honey and nectar and merging should create one strong colony and make feeding easier.

This is a piece of natural comb spotted in the bushes between the hives and the lane. Either swarming bees had decided to build a nest here and changed their minds (it’s very exposed) or the swarm remained in situ for a such a prolonged period that the bees started to build comb. I suspect the latter, I’ve noticed when I leave a swarm in cardboard box for a few hours, there’s often signs of wax building.

New Forest apiary meeting, 21 August 2021

The heather this year is magnificent. This photo from Richard’s drone (not that kinda drone!) gives an idea of the available forage.

“Shall we go or is it best to cancel?” The now familiar pre-apiary meeting phone call. The weather for Ocknell Pond wasn’t looking good, but as we’d cancelled or postponed most of our meetings in 2021, we decided to risk it. “We can always sit in the tent and have a chat!” Members with children decided that was not a recipe for a fun day out and politely cancelled, and whilst sitting in traffic in the pouring rain, I had to agree, they’d probably made the right choice.

Thankfully, by the time we arrived, there was a pause in the rain, Phil and Richard had set up our new gazebo and the teas and coffee were flowing. “At least we can wander down and look at the apiary!” Said Louise stoically. So we did.

Base Camp Meridian: our new pop up gazebo

And when we got there, the Sun came out. So we went back to the car park and pulled on our suits. Here is a video showing part of the hive inspections.

In the end, we had a lovely day. Denise and Louise guided us through the hives, the bees were on their best behaviour and the heather this year is magnificent; a benefit perhaps of all that rain.

Louise explained how colonies are prepared for the Forest and we all enjoyed the bees and the beautiful surroundings.

I haven’t yet taken my hives to the heather because I worried about unnecessary disruption to the bees but Louise explained the benefit to them. Their foraging season is extended by the heather and even in years where there isn’t a bumper harvest, the bees are able to add good quality stores to see them through winter.

The Meridian apiary at Ocknell Pond

Thank you to Louise and Derek, Denise and Phil and Richard for setting up (and for the drone pictures). Here’s hoping those who have bees at the Pond are able to harvest some honey. I’m looking forward to trying the Forest next year!

Taking bees to the heather

Strong colonies with a prolifically-laying queen should be selected. Any honey on the hive should be removed for processing before colonies are moved to the Forest.

That said, sufficient stores should be retained in the hive to sustain the bees (if bad weather persists) until at least your next visit.

Heather honey is thixotropic (jelly-like) and cannot be spun out, therefore it’s presented on the comb. Preparing Honey.

To ensure comb is pristine and edible, supers are fitted with frames containing only strips of foundation (which the bees draw down into fresh comb) or unwired foundation. Louise recommends strips of foundation in most frames but with every third or forth frame containing a sheet of foundation. This is to prevent the bees building wavy comb which would be difficult to process.

Bee Gym

Louise fitted ‘bee gyms’ to her hives while we were there and is trying an adaptation to the original design. The device was developed on the principle that bees can be encouraged to groom themselves. For further information on the product, visit the company’s website.

Winter bees

Winter bees feeding on fondant

Winter bees get the colony from autumn through to spring. They are sometimes termed diutinus bees from the Latin for “long lived”. Winter bees are responsible for keeping the queen warm through winter and rearing a small amount of brood to keep the colony ticking over. Here’s an interesting article from the which explains them. Winter bees


Sacbrood is a viral infection of the brood and occurs when a diseased larva fails to pupate after being sealed in its cell. Fluid then accumulates between the body of the larva and the unshed skin, forming a sac. It is a relatively common disease and can often go unnoticed, affecting only a small percentage of the brood. It does not usually cause severe colony loss.

Infected larva turns from its usual pearly white to a pale yellow colour. The larva dies and begin to dry out, turning a dark brown to black colour, giving rise to the characteristic ‘Chinese slippers’ scales. The workers uncap and expose them, creating an uneven brood pattern with discoloured, sunken or perforated cappings scattered through the brood area.

The skin of the dead larva also changes into a tough plastic-like sac, which is filled with fluid giving the virus its name. The sac can be carefully removed by using a pair of tweezers.

Varroa vectors Sacbrood virus and will spread it when feeding off honey bee larvae.

Re-queening the colony can help to alleviate the symptoms of sacbrood and controlling Varroa mite populations will help to control the spread of the virus. Beebase