Branch Annual Reports 2015-16

Cheltenham & Gloucester

My year in office….

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I stepped into the shoes of Chair but I have really enjoyed the role and know that I will be handing the role over to a save pair of hands tonight to Richard.

The year hasn’t been without its ups and downs.  For Cheltenham and Gloucester branch it has been a sad year losing two long standing beekeepers. Mabel and Arthur Taylor   The loss of Arthur Taylor a well respected beekeeper in March was felt by many beekeepers across the county.   Arthur had been part of GBKA for many years he was an experienced beekeepers who was happy to impart his knowledge to up and coming beekeepers and even to experienced beekeepers when needed.   I would like to pay tribute to Arthur tonight as new members may not realise that over his beekeeping career he had been a honey judge and the president of the GBKA.  This year I have missed him sitting in the front row imparting advice and guidance on various topics.

During the summer months we conducted an apiary audit and we didn’t manage to lose count of the number of brood boxes, crown boards, frames or mummified mice!!!    However, when one of the sheds was empty we did discover a serious problem and realized that it may not be standing much longer and needed replacing.    A proposal was brought to members who agreed unanimously to dedicate the new shed to the memory of Arthur.    Hopefully Richard will be reporting next year that the shed has been commissioned and a fitting tribute to Arthur made.    We are still aiming to get the generator working so that there can be electric down there and most importantly lights.   For those of you who are familiar with the training apiary will know that it is very dark down there early spring and late summer.

This year we moved the container where we store the bulk buy goods from the site it had been on for a number of years due to accessibility issues.   The new site is more accessible and I think more centrally placed.    Bulk buying continues to be a strength of the branch and what we offer has increased.   This is due to the hard work of James, Mike and Debbie who ensure that we get the best deals on ambrosia, varroa treatment, jars, buckets, wax and frames and give up their evenings to look like dodgy geezers handing out goodies from the back of a container!!!.

We have had some really interesting speakers again this year.   Marin gave a very interesting talk about bee biology which was fascinating and enlightening for many.  In April we had a timely reminder about swarming and swarm control from Mike Forster, cut comb from Mike Hunt and then last month Nick provided some good information to make sure our bees are ready for winter.   Our annual brains trust team were once again asked some interesting questions by the audience.

Honey production this year seems to be a mixed with some reporting good yields others a poor harvest but I hope that next year will be a good year for everyone.  Last year according to the BBKA members achieved on average 21lbs (9.5 kgs) of honey per hive (I wish!!!).   It will be interesting to see how this year compares when the results are in.

Swarms once again a busy year but with Mike Forster reporting early in the season a reduced number of people on list to collect swarms.   This did add pressure to those on the list and meant that many were out collecting frequently.   Please remember to add your name to the list if you are prepared to collect swarms or even rehome those collected by others.   Otherwise if there is no one able to collect a swarm some may well end up being destroyed which isn’t good.    My experience has been that it is worth having a detailed conversation with the caller as often they are bumble bees and that can save you time and petrol.   Swarm collecting causes a lot of interest and it raises the profile of beekeeping & Gloucester Beekeepers so all in all it is all good PR for bees and beekeeping plus you get FREE (hopefully healthy) bees.

Recently, Bee Connected has been launched, which links beekeepers with local farmers.  The system will allow alerts from farmers to tell beekeepers when spraying is happening up to a maximum of 5km from their hives.   The information should also inform beekeepers of the crop being sprayed and the compound being used.   Using an email alert system to inform beekeepers and give them time to take action.   If you haven’t already done and you think your hives may be affected by spraying it is worth signing up for this service.    I found it easy to register and link your hives.   The website address is www.beeconnected.org.uk.

What we’ve all been talking about for the last few weeks!!!!    We knew it would get to the UK eventually but we didn’t expect Gloucestershire to be the first reported sighting of the Asian Hornet and now reported in Somerset too.    The nest in Tetbury has been reported as found and destroyed but we need to remain vigilant.   There is some good advice on the BBKA website about traps and the right mix to use in them.   One of them a mix of dark beer, strawberry syrup and orange liqueur (sounds like an interesting cocktail and possibly good enough to drink yourself) is apparently working well in France.   The French Asian Hornets clearly have quite expensive and sophisticated tastes.   The other recipe which is a diluted mix of mashed fish isn’t quite so appealing but I am sure would be much cheaper and just as effective.  You may find you attract one or two local cats with that mix though!!!

And finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to all the committee members who have kept me focused and on track.   Particular thanks goes to Debbie who does a fantastic job behind the scenes for the committee and in ensuring the beemail and information goes out to members in a timely manner.    Without the dedicated members of the committee we would not be able to offer the service that we do with the training, bulk buying, speakers etc., so before I finally hand over to the new chair, Richard Kania, please put your hands together and join me in saying thank you to all the committee members.

Thank you.

Gill Paterson

Cirencester & District

Chair’s Report from the Branch AGM

The Chair reported a continued expansion of both members and funds.  John Stevens predicting that we may well have 100 members by 2018.  This increase has meant an increased workload all round so a massive thank you to everyone who has helped out and to all the bee widows and widowers out there.   Special thanks to Liz and Chris for training sessions, Liz and Bill (and Jackie) for looking after the apiary.  Mike Nash for helping up at the apiary and for bottling up our honey for the shows.  Special mention for John Stevens for everything – the man to go to who rarely says “no”.  Helen a brilliant secretary, keeping us up to date with what’s going on.  Jon and his contributors for pulling together the newsletter, Derek and bill for working so hard on the trailer and towing it to all the events, Becky for housing the trailer whilst repairs were going on and Victoria, Alan and Phil for hosting the garden and bee safaris in the summer.

All their support has meant that not only have we been able to run our usual calendar of events but also some new ones.  We started off the year with the GBKA AGM where we were highly commended on our hospitality and in addition won the shield for overall points in the honey show.   We took part in the RAU lambing event in April, Highland Games in May, the Cotswold Show in July, Vintage Steam Fair in August and the Honey Show at our new venue of Stratton Village Hall, AONB 50th celebration in September, not to mention talks to the Inner Wheel and Soroptomist group, Shipton Oliffe WI and Naunton Park Primary school.  We also managed some socials with the noggin and natter at Christmas, the garden safari, bee safari and BBQ.

Winter training took place at the RAU and we had some film nights which were well attended, we have a good group of Hot Bees, we did some make up days and cleaning days.  The skep making was popular and should possibly be repeated.  The safari and taster days were well attended as was the honey extraction evening and Nosema evening.

Helen, Victoria, Denis and Gemma all passed their Basic Examination and were awarded from an anonymous donor a lovely book each along with last year’s candidates John Stevens Phil Georgie Derek Alan and Jack.

This year has been light on talks although we did have talks from Meg Seymour and Marin, it would have been nice to see Celia Davis again.   This is an area to work on as these talks offer a training opportunity for members who cannot attend regular apiary sessions.   It would be good to increase talks and demonstrations both in the classroom and at the apiary for both experienced and new bees.

Hopefully we will be able to achieve greater involvement with local schools promoting the welfare of the honeybee.

With increased numbers of members up at the apiary, an apiary protocol is in order and a draft will be discussed at the next committee meeting.

Thank you for your continuing support of the club as reflected in the turnout tonight.

Sue Sarna


Stroud Beekeepers

Yet again we have enjoyed another busy and very successful year thanks to the work our dedicated committee and the input of our members.

Summary – Winter 2015/16

  • We enjoyed our winter monthly meetings with attendances averaging around 30.
  • October saw our successful annual AGM and Honey Show with talks and presentations about BuzzClub and BuzzClub Ghana.
  • In November Pat and others ran a hands-on workshop dealing with wax and wax products giving experience of cleaning comb, making candles and cosmetics.  This is always a very popular event.
  • We met at The Trouble House for our annual social meal out in January.
  • In February we undertook a successful fundraising jazz evening for Buzzclub Ghana.
  • In March we joined together with the Cirencester Branch for a talk by Megan Seymour.

Summary – Summer 2016

  • The season began with our Beginners Course with Ian leading the training at the apiary, assisted by Pat, Chris, Ed and Cherry. Throughout it was well attended.
  • Swarm collection was carried out by individual members throughout the spring and early summer and various queries and requests made by the public were responded to.
  • Pat continued to support Wick Court Farm working with schools and beekeeping.
  • Peter has given many talks throughout the year to both young and old audiences.
  • Stroud Festival of Nature was very successful with additional events happening throughout the summer.  Peter visited two schools and Stroud Museum on Greening Days.
  • Both Stroud and Frampton Shows were sunny days this year and we were there with our marquee which attracted much attention and interest.


I am delighted to report that we had 25 new attendees starting this year’s Beginners course, and a large number regularly attended the Saturday morning Apiary sessions throughout the year. Some of the last year’s beginners, who are now beekeepers, also found it useful to attend sessions during the year. I would like to thank Ian, Pat, Chris, Ed and James for their dedication and enthusiasm, without which we could not offer such a positive learning environment.

Pat ran a study course for some of last year’s beginners to take the BBKA basic examination. I have been informed that the majority of those who took the exam this year did indeed pass. Well done to those who did and thanks again to Pat who again has done a brilliant job.

Ian ran a popular queen rearing course an interesting and informative session which ran over five weeks at the apiary.

This year’s Taster Day on 1st October was a great success and was attended by 17 participants. We split the day between the school hall and the Apiary where we opened two of the training hives. I have since received several emails thanking us for the day and expressing interest in attending next year’s Beginner’s Course. I would like to thank Pat, Chris, Peter and James for their help and support on the day.

We currently have 14 names on the list for the 2017 Beginner’s Course seven more than this time last year.



The apiary was put to good use this year with Beginners Training Course being well attended.  As well as covering all the bee keeping basics the beginners also learnt how to mark queens, carry out artificial swarming, monitor for varroa and check for disease.

For more experienced members training was given in different methods of swarm control and also advice for managing Top Bar hives.  In addition, the short course, mentioned above in the training section, on simple queen rearing and making up mating nuclei, was well attended.  The queen rearing course also allowed us to produce surplus queens resulting in all colonies going strongly into the winter with 2016 queens.

In terms of the bees themselves, the colony build ups were slow this season due to the cool wet spring.  This slow build up meant that the first artificial swarms did not have to be carried out until June.  To date, all the colonies have been treated for varroa with planned treatment using Api Bioxal to be carried out around Christmas / New Year.

All winter feeding has been completed and we are delighted that sufficient honey was harvested this year, to ‘pay our rent’ to the school and to allow us to be able to sell surplus to our members and be available at the Honey Show.


Membership for 2015 / 2016 stood at 70 members, three partners and one junior.  Some members from the previous year did not renew and thus did not receive the various benefits of membership such as insurance, information and access to discounted feed etc.  However, there were some new members who joined after undertaking the Taster Day and Beginners Courses.


The Buzzclub is entering its fifth year with a continuing membership of around 25 and with ages ranging from five to 13. Parents are invited to make a donation of around £25 to BuzzClub Ghana funds. Next year we will continue the Monday afternoon groups at our apiary by the Ram Inn and our Saturday morning group for the older children.   Pat has now had to retire from helping with the Buzzclub and so we are looking for other help in order to secure the future of the club.

Buzzclub Ghana

We have raised in the region of £9,000 for Buzzclub Ghana which has enabled the training of teachers and the setting up of the apiary sites in the two chosen schools. Swarm boxes are now in place and bees are beginning to be collected. A short presentation will be given at the AGM updating how Buzzclub Ghana is progressing.  Particular thanks go to Olivia Guest who, with her friends and family, has so far raised around £700.

Peter Lead – Chairman



Dean Forest Beekeepers

This year has been a mixed year for the bees, cold weather, sunshine and low rainfall. We have a large amount of honey extracted from the apiary hives. DFBK apiary has built up to 16 colonies to go into the winter.

Our membership increased from 180 to 190, as we gained 32 new members and lost 22 members this year.

‘To Educate and Inform’

I am again delighted to report that we have had a high success rate for basic assessment passes with six passed the basic assessment, Congratulations are due to all of the participating members of 2016. We must also thank all who participated in the training. The ‘Microscope an Introduction’ course has again been run.

DFBK have trained and supported many new beekeepers this year and again the driving force of this activity are Jim and Val who give more than can be reasonably asked of anyone. We must also thank all the other volunteers who have made these activities so successful. We are looking towards the next year with training courses again being offered. These are:

  • Introduction to Beekeeping (one day)
  • Basic (6 evenings of theory plus 4 Sessions at the Apiary)
  • Module 7 Informal Sessions at the Apiary (Every other Thursday Evening)
  • Microscopy – An Introduction
  • ‘Intermediate Disease training’

The bee safari was a great success year with thanks to Colin Pavey (bee inspector), and all the members who let their apiaries be inspected, also for providing such good refreshments. I look forward to having this event in 2017 as this is such an enjoyable and educational day.

The DFBK attended the events listed below with our information boards and observation hives. We attracted a great deal of interest and recruited a number of new members. My thanks go to the members who contributed so generously of their time and energies to make these events so successful.

The honey show was again held at the ‘Main Place’ in Coleford. A quiz was run while the judging took place.  Our Summer Barbeque was again held at Ladi Broadmans house and well attended.  We were fortunate that we had such a good venue and the weather was good.

We have throughout the year had a number of projects started and successfully completed these included the purchase of:

  • TV for showing training videos
  • New lawn mower
  • Cardboard shredder
  • Two extractors (one powered)
  • Four folding tables for shows

Also these projects were started and finished

  • Providing a cleaning sink with water supply at apiary hut
  • Removing the caravan bath and moving partition wall to give more space in the microscope room.


Some of the items we are looking to purchase next year:

  • Solar wax extractor
  • Hedge cutter
  • More apidea for the apiary

The forthcoming year looks very busy with all training courses we are running and our supported events. I am looking forward to a successful 2017 for all at DFBK.

Bob  Snowdon