Branch Annual Reports 2013 -14

These reports cover the year Autumn 2013 to Autumn 2014.


Following two rather indifferent years for beekeeping we have had a much better one in 2014.  The general feeling seems that we started with a better spring which then led on to a reasonable summer.  This all resulted in a fairly good honey crop for many of us. We certainly collected a lot more swarms this year, in fact there were so many that at times it was difficult to find homes for them, everyone seemed to have run out of brood boxes.

Many people join their local Beekeepers Association because they seek the support of an organisation with a repository of knowledge.  This knowledge is not the sole domain of a small number of us but is shared around by everyone.  That is probably why there are three different answers to every question; this results in a healthy debate and constant re-evaluation.

Education is a particularly important aspect of what the Association does.  In beekeeping there is a huge amount to learn and this is constantly growing and changing.  One reason for this is the appearance of parasites and diseases not previously seen in this country.  For this reason it is critical we stay up to date with knowledge and best practice.

Katarzyna Beta



Katarzyna Beta receives an award for the best new beekeeper 2014. Well done.




Education has been a big focus during this year.  We had a successful year for winter training with a combined class of over 20 from Cirencester and Cheltenham & Gloucester branches.  Mike Hunt, and a number of others at the branch apiary, are still delivering  excellent  hands on training for year one and year two beekeepers.  This continues to  be  an important aspect in building the confidence of beginners.

This year, following an initiative from Will Messenger, we have also developed study groups working towards the BBKA modules and the Microscopy Certificate. These are progressing well and we hope to continue this next year. I believe we need to maintain this emphasis on education if we want to keep membership levels, and bees, healthy.

All of this is of course complemented by our visiting speakers.  We have had some particularly good visitors this season and we are hoping to have an equally interesting programme next year.

I would also like to say that being Chair for a year wasn’t as demanding or scary as I expected and would encourage anyone who feels they could contribute to our organisation step up and offer their support with positions as they become available.

Ray Patterson



Cirencester and District has had a busy and successful year.  We moved from Coates to Harnhill and are now at the Rural Innovations Centre which is part of the Royal Agricultural College and has wonderful facilities for talks as well as a good site for the apiary.

The membership has grown and we have a number of new members who have taken up the H.O.T. bee’s opportunity. Five of our members passed the Basic and two others are studying for Module 1. Liz Gardner, our Training Manager, has also passed her Bee Husbandry exam.

The Honey Show had more entries than the previous year, although not overwhelming but, as they say, from small acorns…  Congratulations to Richard O’Donnell, John Stevens, Liz Gardner, Bill Mead and David Best for their winning entries.

We were fortunate to have two visits from Clive de Bruyn over the winter as well as an excellent day with Dave Maslen. There was also a Disease Recognition Day which was attended by neighbouring association members as well as GBKA members and the Healthy Bees Day was equally successful.   The annual Microscopy Day was fully subscribed too and always has a waiting list.  We can’t let the year go by without thanking Mike Hunt for all his assistance and mentoring which is greatly valued by us all.

It was a busy year for swarms with our Swarm Controller, Corinne Hilditch, receiving over 60 calls, inevitably they were mostly for bumble bees but we still managed to gather over 10 for our quarantine site before distribution to members.

We had a successful day at the Cotswold Show and raised over £500 thanks to a number of members new to Shows and also their partners who also helped out.  The Three Counties went well and once again Members’ partners lent a helping hand.

Our summer barbecue went well too, Richard O’Donnell kindly hosted the event at his house for the 2nd year running, fortunately the weather was considerably better than last year.

We are well into planning next season’s events and have some interesting speakers lined up as well as workshops and Winter Training.



This has been a very busy summer for the DFBKs we have attended the following events to help educate the public, raise the profile of beekeeping and to recruit new members:
Fun Day Speech House, Lydney Yacht Club, Tintern Fete, Kymin, Sara/Air Ambulance Event, Bream Show, Parkend Carnival, Monmouth Show, Forest Showcase

We also had two other events just for members.
– DFBKs Summer Barbecue, a great way for members and their families to meet
– DFBKs Honey Show at a successful new venue at ‘The Main Place’ at Coleford

DFBK training courses were well attended this year. These were: Basic Beekeeping Course, Introductory Beekeeping Course, Microscopy Course.
We are also running ‘Module training every other Thursday evening at the Lydney apiary.

Robert Snowdon, Chairman.


Two of our branch meetings during the summer were held at the apiary of one of our members, who very generously hosted a large group of us – and let us loose on his colonies! Although, in spite of the good season it did rain at one of these meetings, our time was not wasted, as we took shelter in a large greenhouse and listened to a very informative talk on bee diseases from Seasonal Bee Inspector Colin Pavey.

Newent Honey Show


Our September meeting was devoted to our annual branch honey show.

There were a lot of entries in most classes and it was great to see so many novices among the winners!

A small group of members have formed a study group for BBKA Module exams, and have had a lot of success in the last couple of years. They are continuing to work towards another Module Exam in November.

We wish them good luck!



I think most beekeepers will attest that this has been a much better year than the couple of preceding years and if requests to borrow the extractor and displays on the show bench are anything to go by, our members bees have been doing what bees do very well.

It has been a busy year.
We kicked off with our annual skittles fixture against Cheltenham and Gloucester branch. This is always a lively event and a great opportunity to compare notes with our neighbours.
Our final lecture of 2013 was an entertaining and enlightening talk by Celia Davis – Beekeeper -v- Bee
As our numbers grow it has become difficult to impose on Claire Lees for our Christmas dinner venue so this year we gathered at Adlestrop village hall for a wonderful buffet catered for by Claire Smalley and Claire Lees . There was also a highly entertaining bee related quiz organised by Gordon & Jude Bull which included a “guess the honey” round featuring honeys from around the globe.

Our opening lecture of 2014 was a fascinating talk from Samik Datta of Warwick University. He has been studying the detailed statistics around an outbreak of EFB on Jersey and it was really interesting to see how in that isolated community the main vector for disease appeared to be the beekeepers themselves.
In February we turned the clock back several hundred years and learned all about Skeps and Skep Beekeeping from Chris Park of Acorn Education. Although I am sure none of us are planning to go back to those days for practical beekeeping the insights learned about bee behaviour and management with minimal intervention were very valuable. Natural beekeeping does require a much higher level of skill and understanding if it is to be carried out humanely.
In March Keren Green our seasonal bee inspector updated us on the latest bee disease news and management advice.
In March and April Chris Wells and Gordon Bull provided our newer members with a 5 week course of instruction leading to the basic assessment.
In April, Tim Field of Daylesford Farm gave us a detailed discussion of how their approach to low input farm management is designed with the preservation of the pollination force in mind. He also touched on their involvement with lobbying of the Government and EU for policy changes to help bees.
In May the branch set up a display of the beekeeper’s craft as part of Daylesford Summer Festival. This was a great opportunity to talk to large numbers of people about beekeeping and the issues affecting our bees.

Our summer apiary visits schedule was packed with lovely afternoons, looking and learning about bees and indulging in tea and cake. We see these get togethers as some of the best training facilities available to our members. The theory and lectures are all very good but there is nothing quite like the thrill of opening someones own hive and dealing with whatever presents itself.
Many thanks to our generous hosts:
Ian James Langley – Brian Clarke demonstrating
Cynthia Dowty & Fiona McKenzie – Withington – Brian Clarke demonstrating
Gordon & Jude Bull Chalk Hill – Dave Maslen demonstrating
Chris Wells & Tanya Hawkes – Daylesford – comparing management methods – commercial v natural

In June we took the unusual step of having a lecture on a Saturday afternoon. This was mainly governed by the speaker Clive DeBruyn’s availability and it was well worth the effort. As one of the foremost beekeeping authorities in the country his lecture about how to handle everyday problems in beekeeping was a revelation. A very worthwhile afternoon.

In September we rounded off the year with our annual honey show. This was again very kindly hosted by Daylesford and coincided with their Autumn festival so there were loads of people around looking at the display of our beekeeper’s skills and learning about the craft of beekeeping. As usual we are very grateful for the judicious eye of Michael Hunt and the hard work of our Honey show Secretary Doug Petersen and the organisational skills of our Secretary Julia Edwards who has again, put together a programme of events to be proud of.

Martin Edwards


Although this year has been one of the best for honey for some time it has not been without its challenges.

The warm spring gave the colonies in the branch apiary a good start and the number of bees in each hive increased rapidly. However in mid May one colony was looking decidedly dodgy; very nasty smelling comb and lots of unhealthy/dead brood. EFB was suspected and the Regional Bee Inspector was informed. The response was very swift and although the EFB diagnostic test kit did not indicate a problem a couple of combs were sent off to York. It turned out that we had a bad case of chalkbrood. Most of the other colonies also showed evidence of chalkbrood so we have been replacing queens and improving hygiene.

As many of our newer beekeepers had managed to get a good crop of honey, we had high hopes of allowing members the opportunity to sell their produce at the Berkeley Show. We support a number of events but this is the big one. It was a disaster, heavy rain from start to finish. At least we proved to have provided a popular stand; we had a big tent and those who had braved the weather took advantage of being able to shelter from the rain.

This year, with the assistance of grants from Magnox and Stroud Council, we have obtained protective clothing to allow us to give interested groups the opportunity to see and handle bees in a hive. We have had 5 visits this year and already have 3 bookings for next year. Everyone who has participated has been fascinated by the experience.


The year has been very successful thanks to a very active committee.

During the winter

  • November 2013 we had a joint meeting with Cirencester and District BKA where Clive de Brun spoke.
  • December 2013 Beris and Jaqui Hanks organised the Honey Show and whilst it was very enjoyable, sadly not many members attended.
  • January 2014 The Debate with the Natural Beekeepers – a very well attended debate creating much discussion and thought.
  • February 2014 Our Social at the Amberley Inn
  • February the Beginners Course started with 21 trainees signed on.
  • March 2014 Beris Hanks gave an informative talk on Flowers for Bees

During the summer

  • Duncan, Pat, Chris and Ian ran the Beginners Course each Saturday morning leading a very keen group at our training apiary.
  • Duncan and others collected swarms and hived them at our out apiary and were kept very busy particularly at the start of the season. Due to the very high number of phone calls about bumble bees, not honey bees, we have changed our website so that callers will be referred to BBKA’s information page about bumble bees.
  • Stroud beekeepers put a lot of time and effort into education particularly with young people. Between Pat and Peter we have visited 2 Primary Schools, St Roses in Stroud, Wycliffe Prep School and The Agricultural University Cirencester to give Power Point presentations. Pat continues to mentor Wick Court Farm, and Julian Cleeton Wycliffe Senior School. We also took the Buzzclub display to the Three Counties Show where some of our young members helped and met with Ken Basterfield. John Willoughby has organised several advanced courses, often with Cirencester.
  • The Buzzclub continues to grow, with this year 25 members split into 4 groups. Following a donation from the Agricultural University we have been able to offer a grant of £250 to a school to help set up a Buzzclub. To date we have one primary school keen to do this.
  • Stroud Show was a wash out but we were awarded Best Charity Stall for our efforts. We also attended Cranham Feast in August and Frampton Show in September. We also had a static presentation in the Museum in the Park in Stroud during August for 3 weeks and a one day presentation at the Cirencester Museum.
  • Marin ran a queen rearing course and then went on to become a Master Beekeeper. Well done Marin, especially as he now intends to use those skills to enhance other members knowledge through training sessions next year.
  • Duncan and Lorraine ran another successful Taster Day with 15 attendees.