Sussex Beekeepers Association Annual Convention was held on the 2nd November, at Uckfield Civic Centre. Despite terrible weather conditions and England playing in the rugby world cup final, the meeting was a great success. Giving members and speakers from across Sussex branches the opportunity to discuss and share our beekeeping stories and experiences from the past year.
The conference opened with Pam hunter, master bee keepers lecture on
What about the drone
Pam talked us through the life cycle of the drone from an unfertilised egg being laid through to their demise either from mating with the queen or ultimately being evicted from the hive in late summer. Urged us not to destroy drones or remove them from our hives. Explained how the worker bees actually liked them in the hive Even though they have to be feed and nurture them . They are vital for spreading their genetics . One queen can mate with many drones on her mating flight , so the more drones there are the better.
After a short coffee break our second talk on Candle making and wax , from David Rudland. Which replaced Showing honey and wax from Peter Bashford who was unable to attend.
David talked us through the process of cleaning our wax and explained what a valuable resource wax is and how many products we can make from it.
For example lip balm, polish and candles and also how we can trade in clean wax for new wax foundation with just a small amount of work to clean it.
When melting wax he stressed not to over heat the wax as this darkened the colour, recommended the use of solar wax melting boxes.
He brought a selection of different candles and moulds which demonstrate various ways of candle making .David and his wife also run courses at East Surry Bees.
An update on the asian hornet from SE regional Bee Inspector Kay Wireford .
Main concerns from Kay were that she had been unable to contact the principal A.H.A.T coordinators when it had been vitally important, and has suggested that each division has a deputy coordinator.
For all updates on Asian Hornet please log into Beebase . If you are not already registered with Bee base Kay stressed how important it was to do so. this is a valuable tool and keeps you updated on diseases in your area and the Asian Hornet
We then adjourned for a buffet lunch and a good chance to chat with fellow beekeepers
AmandMillar resumed the speaking after lunch with.
Use of an Apidea.
The Apidea is infact a very handy piece of equipment to have . Not only is it used for queen mating / rearing . It can also be used as a method of swarm control. and for housing a queen late in the season if your bees are intent on swarming.
They are also great for housing cast swarms that would be to small to put in a nucleus hive.
They are also good for observing bee behaviour otherwise not seen in a larger colony as smaller colonies are far less aggresive and the bees used in an apedia are usually young and far less likely to sting. Amanda has witnessed wash boarding and she has heard queens piping neither of which has she seen in larger hives.
Amanda then talks us though setting up her Apidea, full details of this can be found on line http://www.brightonlewesbeekeepers.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Starting-an-Apidea.pdf
Amanda invites us up to front bench to view her Apidea during our coffee break.
Jean and Nancy Fisher from Texas who were over from the United States of America were also invited up to say a few words They have a small holding of 22.5 acres in north eastern texas, they started keeping bees to help keep their land taxes lower. Jean and Nancy keep from 8 to 20 hives at any one time.
They do not use any chemicals what so ever and treat their bees with a mixture of essentail oils. Jean stated that a mixture of these chemicals is all he uses for the treatment of varroa and for small hive beetle and has has good results even though no control hive had been set up.
List of essentail oils ( not treatment quantities)
Winter Green, White Thyme, TeaTree, Patchouli ,Spearmint and Lemongrass.
As you can imagine this caused alot of interest and Patrica has been promised the recipe as soon as Jean and Nancy are home they will forward them.
Jean also let us sample his texan honey which was delicious.
Last coffee break before our last speaker
Chris Parks enlightens us on Mead, metheglin and Medicine.
Chris is a keen mead maker and his mead is consumed as a part of the Druidic ceremonies. Before Chris starts his talk he offers a splash of mead to bless our gathering. Wishing us good health.We are later given the opportunity to share a drink of his mead from an elaborately decorated drinking horn carved by Chris.
Then he shares a basic recipe for mead,
1Gallon water (preferably spring water)
3lbs Honey ( preferably raw honey)
Citric acid (either chemical type you purchase from chemist or lemon rind)
and yeast which could be champagne yeast or wine makers yeast. or pollen from your hives.
Boil the water add the honey and the rest of the ingredients and put in a sealed demijohn with an air lock so that the active ingredients can work , You should notice fermentation if you don’t this means you have done something wrong.
after several weeks there should be a build up of sediment which needs to be taken off, do this then top up the demi john with honey and water and let mature. chris recommended a year and a day, although longer is required with some recipes.
Chris explained ‘I like to make “complete hive mead” that contains all of the goodness from the combs that I remove from the skeps. So as well as the honey, you might get royal jelly, pollen and propolis in the mix.’ Chris believes strongly in the health-giving properties of mead, pointing out that Pliny the Elder wrote of a resident of these isles who lived to be 120 because he drank mead every day. A Bergermeister of Antwerp apparently managed to father a child each year into his nineties as a result of his fondness for the drink! ‘There’s an old saying that mead is as strengthening as meat, and you only get that if you include everything from the hive,’ Chris says.
Sampling Chris’s mead, it is immediately clear that it is very different from commercially produced mead, or that found on the show bench. It’s bitter-sweet and incredibly filling. Like drinking Guinness, it feels more like a food than a drink. As well as mead, Chris makes metheglin. ‘The Welsh “Meddyglyn” is possibly the source of our word “medicine”, says Chris. ‘It stems from the days before pills or refrigeration when the only way to preserve your medicinal plants was in alcohol.’ Chris uses plants and herbs gathered from his plot including wild hops, yarrow, mugwort and elderflower.
Patrica closes the meeting at 4.30, thanking everyone for coming and is met with a round of applause as we show our appreciation .
photos from the meeting include Neighbours Improved Cottage hive an outstanding example of victorian engineering dated from 1863 / 1865
Chris Parks mead horn showing elaborate engravings