Yes, we have an apiary! It is at Gregynog, a fairly central location for the MBKA.
It was brand new in 2010, and so like this web page there is still much work to do. Use the menu on the right side of the page (or the links below) to navigate around and find out about the apiary. Or better still, go and visit it!
First year at Gregynog 2010
It was during the Glansevern Food Festival of 2009 where Karen Armstrong, the new Warden of Gregynog Hall, asked us if we would put some bees within the grounds of the estate. The bees would be an attraction that Gregynog could offer to the public. We replied that what we needed was a centrally located apiary for Montgomeryshire where beekeepers could be trained. A good partnership followed. But getting the apiary up and running has taken longer than we expected.
The paperwork took ages. Health and Safety had to be factored in as well as access for the disabled. This meant that we have the lease of a larger plot than we originally envisaged.
Work began in May during the Bluebell season. Gregynog provided the labour and MBKA did the design and provided the materials through contributions from individual members and a generous grant from Tregynon Windfarm Trust.
We planned to have 8 hives by the end of the 2010 season. We achieved 7 hives but one remained unoccupied. We hope that in early 2011 John Beavan in his capacity as a friendly beekeeper, rather than an SBI, will manage to donate the much promised colony for the Long Frame hive. John has kindly agreed to be one of the Apiary Managers: certainly he will be the one who makes all the decisions about how to maintain the health of our bees. We will need other managers and do need someone who lives close to the apiary who can react quickly to calls from the staff at Gregynog about bee activity. John Beavan lives far from the Apiary and cannot be expected to do all the feeding and medication himself.
Our first training day was held in August 2010, specifically to look at the detection and treatment of Nosema. See this article in the October 2010 BeeHoler for a full report.
We had also planned to have a viewing hut ready by the end of the year. This hasn’t happened but the delay has proved fruitful. Welsh Oak Frame Buildings of Caersws have agreed to design and manufacture an Oak Framed viewing
The centre will be better than anything we could have put up ourselves and will be an asset to the image of MBKA, Gregynog and, of course, to Welsh Oak Frame. Dennis Edmunds, the father of one of the Directors of Welsh Oak Frame was a well known beekeeper in Caersws. He was one of those rare beekeepers who had bad arthritis and had to scale down his beekeeping before he died a few years ago. During the week of 25th October the plans will be ready and an oak tree on the Gregynog Estate will be chosen for the main structural timbers for the viewing centre.
The viewing area will be large enough for a class of school children to view the bees in perfect safety. The roof will be of small slates and we are hoping to get a slate or roofing company to sponsor these. Have you any ideas about who might be willing to provide the slates? The building will be finished by April 2010 so we will need those contact names ASAP.
Those who have already visited the Apiary will have noticed a double fence to keep the public safely away from the bees. The gap between the fences is 4’ and will be planted with David Austin Roses. Of course the roses are there for extra security but they will also make the area very attractive even for those with no interest in bees.
Gregynog is holding a number of public events during the Spring Bank Holiday. This would be an appropriate time for the official opening of the whole apiary. We hope, by then, to have in place a series of audio-visual links between the hives and the Reception area of Gregynog. Again we ask for ideas, volunteers and possible sponsors. During that spring event we will be demonstrating beekeeping in the Bee Cage that we used at the Glansevern Food Festival (see this report in the BeeHolder, October 2010) the money for this was kindly donated by the Co-operative Society.
WE STILL NEED CONTRIBUTIONS money, materials and most of all, hives and bee colonies. Some have already been promised. We’ll need them in spring because we plan to have the first part of the season dedicated to colony increase. We plan to have about 20 hives by the end of 2011.
Grand Opening June 5th 2011
The official opening of the Gregynog Apiary was on Sunday 5th June 2011 coinciding with the Gregynog Hall Garden Festival. There were many stallholders as well as demonstrations of birds of prey flying and sheep dogs herding ducks. In spite of the weather forecast, which had talked of downpours and storms, it was a pleasant day if a little cooler than of late and overcast at times.
The MBKA marquee was the biggest and most obvious one there and contained bee and honey related stalls. Bees abroad organised candle making for children and Pam Gregory gave an interesting talk about their work in Africa. See here for more information about what they do.
The Great Oak Bookshop of Llanidloes had a table in the tent with an extensive range of books about bees and beekeeping. Their shop is well worth a visit - it is like a little piece of Hay-on-Wye in the middle of Wales.
Our association president, Jim Crundwell, brought along some of the extensive collection of equipment which he has amassed over his beekeeping career. Quite a few people had to ask what some of the stranger looking items were used for.
As a special treat, Brian Goodwin (known to many of us for his beekeeping instruction classes) brought along his male voice choir who entertained the crowd with a selection of anecdotes and songs. The MBKA members who had volunteered to help out on the day also assisted the choir in demolishing a delicious tea laid on for the occasion.
Although no actual ribbon was cut, chairman Tony Shaw made a brief speech to welcome everyone to the opening of the apiary. The viewing hut was not then completely finished, but the crowd filled it up and the overflow arranged themslves along the bee-proof fencing to either side.
There were then two demonstrations of beekeeping at the apiary, ably presented by Dave Bennett and SBI John Beavan. They gave informative and yet entertaining performances which were well received, and yet still found time to go though all nine hives thoroughly.
When the festival closed at 4 pm, it just remained for the volunteers to dismantle the marquee (kindly loaned by the Bennetts) and pack everything away. Thanks again to all the members who helped make it a successful day.
Gregynog Apiary, Viewing Hut
The viewing hut was provided by Welsh Oak Frame Buildings of Caersws using oak from a tree felled on the Gregymog Estate. The tree was felled and the frame of the viewing hut built, resting on a concrete foundation laid just prior to the apiary meeting of May 15th, 2011.
As you can see, the the frame is not yet clad, but should be ready in time for the grand opening on 5th June, 2011.
The previous picture showed the inside of the roof, and as you can see from the picture above the hut is a hexagon shape in plan to mimic the shape of the cells on a honeycomb. It just needs cladding, tiling and beeproofing and then we can let the public in.
It is going to be one of the focal points of the apiary, and we are very grateful to Welsh Oak Frame for their generous help.
Hives at Gregynog
We have several types of hive at Gregynog. This is partly to evaluate the different designs, but mainly to give MBKA members the chance to get to grips with new equipment. After all, this is a training apiary!
Where possible, illustrations are of the actual hives at the apiary.
The National Hive
That old chestnut. Well, I say chestnut, but it is usually made out of deal or cedar, and often by our very own Brian Norris. This is the hive of choice for the vast majority of amateur beekeepers.
The Long Frame Hive
I don't know much about this one, so I won't be quite so smart about it. From the name I thought it would be longer than the top bar - actually it is probably longer than the top bar is wide. I think we need someone who knows about hives to write the descriptions.
The Top Bar Hive
The top bar hive is a cheap and cheerful approach much used in warm climes. It will be interesting to see if this low flat design can stand up to the sort of weather that Wales can throw at it. That is a log on top, not the chimney for a wood burner, though I suspect the bees will wish that it were come January/February.
The Warré Hive
Quite the tallest fellow at the apiary, these hives have fixed bars rather than moveable frames so the bees have quite a bit of wax making to do.
The WBC Hive
When the Welsh Broadcasting Corporation built their first hive, they couldn't think of a name for it. However, the walls have a double thickness of wood (with cavity) making it a very suitable choice for this region.
MBKA Apiary Training Calendar 2013
Our apiary manager, Dave Bennett, with the assistance of SBI John Beavan, has come up with a list of dates on which specific training will be given at the apiary. Hopefully this will give our members chance to gain hands on experience with some aspects of beekeeping with which they are not familiar. Looking at the list of topics there should be plenty to interest the novice and intermediate beekeeper, and those with more experience might want to get a different perspective on things or even help out if demand is high.
Each of the sessions is planned for 90 minutes, starting at 10:00 am unless otherwise noted, though I imagine that sticking to these times will be subject to the vaguaries of the bees, the weather and whatever social interactions break out.
If dates have to be amended after their original publication, they will be highlighted in RED.
Sunday March 17th - CANCELLED Spring Inspection
This session has been cancelled as of 7 March. This is due to the forecast for cold weather between now and the 17th which means that we should avoid dsiturbing the bees
will cover what to look for in the spring, focussing on feeding and Varroa control.
Sunday April 14th - Continued Spring inspections
The bees should be livelier by now, so there should be plenty of things to look out for.
Sunday May 12th - Swarm Control and Making Increase
This is vital information in the current situation where feral colonies are struggling to survive and replacing losses of kept bees is an ongoing battle.
Sunday August 18th Preparing to take off the Honey
Removing honey (yum). This is what a lot of bee keepers are in it for!
Sunday September 22nd - End of Season and Pre-Winter Inspection
Varroa treatment and the pre-winter inspection are covered at this meeting.
Sunday January 12th (2014) Oxalic acid treatment (11am start)
The date of the January Oxalic acid treatment cannot be fixed in advance, so if you would like to attend this one, you must give Dave your phone number and/or e-mail address so that he can let you know when it will be.
All courses are free to MBKA members, but please do let usknow if you are hoping to attend one or more of the meetings. Not only is it useful for planning that we know attendance numbers, but courses may get cancelled if there is little or no interest. Contact Dave by phone or e-mail during the fortnight before the meeting.
These pictures were taken during the Nosema training day at the Gregynog apiary on August 28th, 2010.
Here is Patrick Farmer recording sounds within the hives at Gregynog.
These are bees singing to the microphone, placed at the entrance of the hive.
Where is Gregynog
You can find Gregynog off the Tregynon road out of Newtown. Just follow it out and look for the sign on your left. Or use your SatNav. Or go to a map website like this, for example, and type Gregynog Hall into the search bar.
If you are a postman, or just prefer something more traditional, the following is probably of interest.
To Visit the Apiary.
Park in the car-park and go to Gregynog reception and show your MBKA membership card. You will be given a free car-park ticket - yet another MBKA perk and sorry to non-mambers who will have to pay and display! The Apiary is in the Dell. Signposts should be erected soon. Please give your comments to any committee member. We do need your feedback.
Towards the end of October and in the beginning of November the autumn colours of Gregynog are at their best. Do visit the apiary when you are there.