Phil Phelps, Forest of Dean beekeeper, 1937 – 2016

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that our dear friend and long standing Dean Forest member Phil passed away peacefully last month. He had been ill for 18 months, and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 6 months ago.

He died at home in the house where he was born 79 years ago. I’m sure you will all join with us in sending his wife Jean and his family our deepest sympathy.

Phil’s funeral was held at on Friday, 27th May at the Forest of Dean Crematorium.

Jim and Val Vivian-Griffiths

Arthur Taylor

Arthur Taylor


It  is with deep sadness that I have to inform you of the death of our former President, Arthur Taylor, on 28th March 2016. His funeral was held on Wednesday 13th April 2016 at St James Church, Staunton.

Arthur has been part of Gloucestershire Beekeepers Association life for many years and was a great beekeeper, assessor, national honey judge and president of GBKA. Together with his wife Mabel, who died earlier this year, he inspired new and experienced beekeepers with his great knowledge and sensible practical advice.  He will be remembered with great affection by many members.

Val Vivian-Griffiths

Skep Making Days

skepsFollowing Cirencester’s successful Skep making day in February, Easter Saturday saw the second, arranged for the county.

12 members representing  Cirencester & District, Stroud, Newent, Cheltenham & Glos. and South Glos.  met at Harnhill and spent six hours learning the craft from  Chris Park.  We did break for a delicious soup and roll lunch.

Chris was extremely patient with all participants, fortunately, and we each left with the beginnings of a skep, fruit bowl, hat or other container. There were ample supplies of straw and lapping cane for us to take home to complete our creations.

We are aiming to arrange a 4th date at the end of August. Contact Helen Moreton  – – for more information.

Chris can be contacted at . E-mail

GBKA AGM and Honey Show

The 2016 Annual General Meeting, hosted by Cirencester Beekeeepers,  was held on Saturday 27th February, and included a Honey Show.

Here are some photos (courtesy of John Stevens) and a list of the people who came First in each class:

Class 1:   Two jars of clear light honey, was won by Val Vivian-Griffiths

Class 2:   Two jars of medium or dark honey, was won by Mike Hunt

Class 3:   Two jars of granulated or soft set honey, was won by John Willoughby

Class 4:   One shallow comb suitable for extracting, was won by Val Vivian-Griffiths

Class 5:   One cake of beeswax, was won by Mike Hunt

Class 6:   A honey cake to the stated recipe, was won by Sue Sarna

Class 7:   A bottle of sweet mead, was won by David Richards

Class 9:   Three photos connected with bees or beekeeping, was won by Philip Tinker

There were no entries for classes 8 and 10.

The Bradley and Bart Challenge Cup for the highest aggregate of points in the Members Classes was won by Mike Hunt.

The A H Bowen Challenge Cup for the most points gained by a novice member was won by Nicky Burgess.

The Inter Branch Shield was won by Cirencester Beekeepers.


Top award for Jim Vivian-Griffiths, GBKA Master Beekeeper !

jim_vivian-griffithsJim Vivian-Griffiths, a very experienced member of the GBKA Forest of Dean Branch, Branch Treasurer, and tutor of their annual Beekeeping Course, obtained his BBKA Master Beekeeper qualification earlier this year.

Jim has now heard from the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers that he has won the Wax Chandlers’ Award for 2014. This has been awarded every year 1965 to the Master Beekeeper in the year who has scored the highest marks in the module examinations.

Jim has been invited to the Chandlers’ Court Lunch in January to receive the award from the Lord Mayor of London.

Congratulations Jim ! The award is a fitting recognition of your tireless efforts to improve not only your own knowledge but the standards of beekeeping and training in the Dean Forest branch of GBKA.


Wax_Chandlers'_Arms( The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers is an ancient livery company in the City of London. In 1371 it gained control over the trade of Wax Chandlers in the City and in 1484 it was granted a Royal Charter by King Richard III. It originated as a “fraternity” or an association of craftsmen which was formed for mutual benefit and spiritual support. It became increasingly important in the 14th and 15th centuries as religious ceremonies became more elaborate and churches were lit by candles throughout the day and night.

The Wax Chandlers have supported the BBKA and the National Honey Show financially and in other ways over many years. 

The Court Lunch is a formal occasion in honour of the Lord Mayor of London, currently the Right Honourable Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE. )


Beekeeping project creates a buzz at University of Gloucestershire

from our May 2014 Bulletin for members.  Picture: Paul Nicols

 GlosUni1A NEW building in Cheltenham will be a hive of learning – in more ways than one. The University of Gloucestershire has been given planning permission to build a beekeeping shed on its Francis Close Hall campus in St Paul’s. Their aim is to teach students, local community groups and schoolchildren about the need for a thriving bee population, and how to grow and maintain one.

The project has been led by first-year student Charlotte Powell. She said: “A specially adapted shed at Francis Close Hall campus will initially house three beehives. While most beekeepers choose to house their hives in the open, the shed will protect the hives, and the beekeepers, from the elements and will help see the bees through a tough winter.”

The scheme will set up a social enterprise which will sell hive products like honey and beeswax through the student’s union and local shops, as well as events to support the project and ensure its long-term sustainability.

Charlotte said: “Students and staff can get involved and the invitation is open to all disciplines within the university. It will give students an opportunity to learn new skills in business and beekeeping and provide an opportunity to build relationships with local businesses through marketing and bee-related events.”

A beekeeping society has been set up at the university, but it’s not only students who will be able to get a buzz from learning how to behave with a beehive. The project involves community and educational outreach. Presentations and workshops are being developed that will be used to show people all about the hobby, and how important to the food chain it is to have plenty of bees doing well.

Charlotte added: “There is always something new to learn in beekeeping and bees always seem to be one step ahead of the beekeeper, which is what makes the art so interesting. With this venture I hope to inspire a new respect for bees.”

The project has been funded by the NUS Students Green Fund, but is also attracting local sponsorship; Blood and Honey tattoo parlour in Winchcombe Street has agreed to design the artwork for merchandise to be sold to support the project.

For more information email or follow the project on social media at facebook. com/UoGBees or @UoGBees on Twitter. 

Article by Aled Thomas of Gloucestershire Echo.

Using MAQS strips

Some beekeepers have found that MAQS strips have negative effects on their bees, especially during warm weather.

Here is some useful advice from Jim Vivian-Griffiths of Dean Forest Beekeepers:

The instructions for use of MAQS strips are rather misleading, as they were written for the Canadian/US market, in which the majority of beekeepers use Langstroth hives with solid floors. The advice is to remove the entrance block to provide more ventilation.

With our colonies on mesh floors you should do the following:
1. leave your entrance block in, reduced if necessary to guard against wasps
2. put your insert board in only half way, to give plenty of ventilation
3 open the feed holes also to give ventilation
4 use only one strip of MAQS if your colony is not much stronger than a nucleus

There was also a very useful article by Wally Shaw in the Autumn 2013 issue of the WBKA Newsletter on this subject. You can read it here: Varroa_Control_by_Wally-Shaw_Autumn2013