Chairman's Chat

The BeeHolder, Spring 2014

This edition of the BeeHolder is has come out later than planned; we’ve been struggling with factors outside our control. But perhaps the lateness is just as well because the programme of events has had to be drastically changed in the last few weeks to take account of unexpected difficulties that some of our generous apiary hosts have endured. This year we have a full programme of events that takes into account the early rape season, School holidays and a more even spread of locations around our county. I am especially pleased that in November Brian Goodwin will give the Welsh launch of his forthcoming book “Bee Collectibles”. Most of our meetings this year will have activities geared towards the family. We are making a special effort to have kids entertained, the idea being that some of the magic of beekeeping will rub off on them between the playing on swings and dressing up in bee suits*. Please do bring kids and grandkids along to meetings - we have a good selection of childrens’ bee suits*.

Despite the wettest winter for many years most of us have seen our colonies survive to spring. However there are still many tales of beekeepers throughout Wales losing all their stock.

But your committee has recognised that the MBKA needs to give every assistance to local bee breeding and that one of the remits of the Gregynog Apiary should be the preparation of nucs that can be supplied (at a price) to members. This will take time to implement. Please don’t expect us to have any quantity of Nucs available this year.

There has change in management of the apiary. We have two teams of beekeepers managing a set of hives each and with total control over how they are managed. However, for at least this year there will be coordination about how disease control is managed throughout the apiary. At the oxalic acid day it was stated that any training apiary should abide by the current advice about Varroa control as issued by the National Bee Unit and their inspectorate. We as individual beekeepers might treat our own bees differently but beginners should start with the approved orthodox treatments before adopting other methods of varroa control. MBKA committee are agreed that doing nothing is not an option. If you disagree please put your views forward and open the debate. It is your apiary not the committee’s.

So folks, as usual in the spring BeeHolder I am saying don’t beat yourself up if you have suffered losses through the winter but do do consider that you might not have acquired the optimum bees for your area and do be aware that a colony that supersedes by mating with exotic your drones your neighbours exotic drones may well be at risk in the following winters.

Tony Shaw, April 2014

* I think he means suits to wear whilst looking at bees, not stripy shirts and plastic wings. Ed