Reports on meetings

The BeeHolder, April 2010

The AGM, February 18th

Around 50 turned up for the AGM on 18th February. The formal part was rushed through with joyous abandon leaving the evening to our two guests. Laura Shrewing from Glasu let us know what money she had to offer us which is a possible £5.000. We hope we can put a good case so we can be awarded that money. Roy is putting his all into it.

Seasonal Bee Inspector John Beavan gave a description aided by lots of photos of what his job entails, the area he covers and how he can help us. The evening finished at 9.30 and considering that we are supposed to leave by 9:00pm we can use that as a guage of the evening’s success.

See here for the secretaries' and treasurer's reports.

Jessica Bennett

Will Messenger and the Stewarton Hive (see article in previous BeeHolder)

About 40 members came to hear Gloucester beekeeper, Will Messenger, talk about the Stewarton Hive. Will became fascinated by the claim of Robert Kerr, Stewarton’s inventor (1819) that the bees don’t swarm and give masses of honey. Will’s experience with a hive he built himself and operated over 7 years seems to bear this out. He has also had few health problems with this hive.

Will Messenger shows his Hive

The stewartson was one of several 18th and 19th century attempts at creating a hive which would be productive of honey, would reduce swarming and would so separate the honey storage areas from the brood areas that honey could be gathered without destroying the bees. We learnt about Neighbour’s Improved Cottager with chimney and thermometer to keep the hive below the supposed swarming temperature of 100⁰F; and of Mr Well’s double hive; the first WBC, Burt’s Extra Deep Easy to Work and the Burgess Perfection which concertinaed to give quadruple thick walls for extra winter warmth.

With its drawers, slides, shutters and windows the hive is a tribute to the cabinet maker’s skill. Will proposed that many of its unique features contribute to the reduction of swarming and the tidiness of the comb. The octagonal shape had no cold corners and the rigid top bars did not wobble as can happen with modern frames (perhaps the cause of brace comb). Being near circular in plan the queen’s pheromones spread evenly through the hive. In particular, the pheromone she secretes from her feet to discourage queen cell building is distributed along the bottom of the comb (because it is frameless) and so queen cell building is discouraged. An impressive pandering to the natural behaviour of the bee. However I could not help thinking that with so much monitoring and invigilation, the beekeeper might have been able to reduce swarming in any hive.

For this talk, Will also researched the history of beekeeping in mid-Wales and found that there is none ( history, that is). In fact there is little recorded history of beekeeping in all of Wales.

In the question and answer period at the end, somebody asked if the blue hive angered the bees. Will didn’t know as he had painted previous boxes red, and this has never had bees in. He does have a blue bee suit which he has never used, so he will let us know if the colour blue angers the bees when he tries that one out!

This was a very interesting talk well received and as usual the catering was superb!

Chris Leech