Birmingham Apiary Meeting Saturday 15th May 2010

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Drone Bee
Mar 27, 2009
Reaction score
Birmingham UK
Hive Type
Number of Hives
8 ish
I attach a report, with a picture, originally intended for the 'Warwickshire Beekeeper' magazine, in case it's of interest to any new or existing beekeepers in the Birmingham area who may be readers of this forum.

Birmingham & District Beekeeper's Association
Apiary Meeting Saturday 15th May 2010

This was the third meeting of the new season. Much preparatory work had been done during the previous weeks in clearing excess shrubbery and improving the drainage at the Apiary. The site looked good in the sunshine and a good selection of beginners and newcomers turned up to further their interest and education in beekeeping.

Committee members present were Drill Sergeant Nigel F, Secretary Sharif K. Apiary Manager John M (who seems to be developing a following amongst the new lady recruits ! ), all eager and willing to demonstrate to members and newcomers how beekeeping should be done. (where were you Norman and Stan ? )

Very sadly missed was Dr. Dennis Wardle, who died recently. He was the first BDBKA member that I met, and very kindly he and his wife Margaret showed me their very fine bees in Langstroth hives. On that occasion Dennis demonstrated with some success the process of 'Queen Finding', with an expertise I have so far failed to match, and I still can't see new eggs for toffee. I blame the lack of sunshine last season ! - should have gone to Specsavers !

We are all grateful to Margaret for continuing the post of Treasurer and Membership Secretary, as well as organising the monthly winter lectures and entertainment evenings.

So, - to the business of the day. A notable member present was Deirdre, whose bees had unfortunately died out last winter. Deirdre maintains one hive at present at the club Apiary, and was a previous winner at our annual show (a posh do !), in the 'Novices Best Honey' section. Deirdre had contacted a local supplier advertising in the 'Warwickshire Beekeeper's' journal and had a few days previously purchased a four frame nuc. This came in a plywood nuc box of sound construction, supplied at an additional cost of £15. I recognised the handiwork of the famous 'Hedgerow Pete' in the nuc box.

Deirdre was concerned to check that she had a laying queen in the new colony, and under the guidance of the club 'experts' she carefully examined the contents of the frames. She had provided her nuc with a litre of sugar syrup in a glass jar feeder to keep them going for a couple of days while they established at their new location in our apiary. She was relieved to find eggs and brood in the small colony although no-one could find the queen. It may not be related but I purchased a nuc from the same breeder about three years ago, which came from the same original hive, and I have never seen that queen in the whole of the three years, but since the colony is still going she must be present ! (more expense at Specsavers !).

Having been delighted to find the eggs and brood the nuc box was moved to one side and a National hive was placed on the same site. The frames with bees were transferred from the nuc to the hive and a full complement of frames were added with a mix of the best of last years built out frames and some new foundation. I should add that a couple of weeks ago, under the guidance of Nigel F, Deirdre had sterilised the hive and existing frames by fumigation with a cloth dosed with 80% Acetic acid. Caution must be exercised in handling this acid and help and guidance should be sought by beginners in how to handle this substance from beekeepers who are familiar with its dangerous properties. A cover board and roof were placed on the brood chamber and a further inspection was scheduled for a few days time to check that all was well.

Nigel F went through his own hive, demonstrating to newcomers that his colony were building up still, and no queen cells were being built as yet, suggesting that swarming was unlikely for the following seven days till the next routine inspection.

I had not overwintered any bees at the club apiary, so I had ordered a new queen to arrive by post on Tuesday following the Saturday meeting. Accordingly, with permission from the Apiary Manager (John M), I had, on the previous Friday, opened a hive on another site (previously inspected for disease by John M) and removed two 14x12 frames of bees and capped brood. These were placed in a nuc box, which was loaned to me by the club, together with a couple of frames of foundation, and a frame feeder containing a couple of litres of thin sugar syrup. I carefully transported the box in my car to the club apiary on Friday early evening and placed it on my hive stand on my rented spot. I opened the entrance about an inch and left them to it. I was delighted to find on Saturday that they had not absconded and although they were exhibiting the usual 'queen-less buzz', they appeared to be flying and happy in their new location. I shall introduce the new queen on Tuesday (please Mr Postman !) using the supplied cage if possible or a wire 'Butler' cage if not.
If the new queen is prolific, and the colony builds quickly, I hope it might form the basis for a queen raising exercise at the club apiary, starting from nothing, as a newcomer might have to do, although this might take next season as well to come to fruition.

Several of the Club demonstration hives were opened and checked by new members under the supervision of the 'Old Hands', so as to provide handling practice and guidance for those who did not yet have their own bees.

At this point I was disbarred from participating further in the proceedings, by a unanimous vote from the assembly. They took up the all too familiar frenzied cry of 'Oi you, - go and make the tea !', so I was left to fulfil my only useful club function, - that of 'Char-Wallah'.

Around the tea ceremony, we congregated and discussed beekeeping matters and the days events. I append a photograph of the days events. I think one of the members, Phil, was making a film of the events. - Must ask him what resulted.

Isn't that a bit risky to have a huge great sign advertising the apiary site?

Sorry to say but theres no way I would want to advertise an association site with all the hives going walkabouts at the moment as demand is so high for bees.

I know a few beeks who have some pretty foul tempered bees nearest their entrance to ward off any unwanted visitors.

I'll mention your remarks to the committee Mike,

If anyone nicks our bees we'll know it's you now :),

Come on then Fris, you're about to say something ?

I was going to say........


Hi JC.....good to have you back

AH just like the good old days.
Be gentle with him Friz..
I can vouch for that ! I still need the ointment.

........................... better keep quiet chaps or we'll get the same treatment as the tree bees got ! ...................

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