Dear Members and Site visitors,

Covid 19

Face to face meetings are not allowed at present but WE ARE STILL HERE!

Our monthly Winter Meetings continue via Zoom video conferencing. Read your copy of ‘Buzz’ for details.

Our 2021 Beginners course will start on Saturday 30th January, also on Zoom.

Help and advice is still available via Committee members and Mentors. We are optimistic that the situation will improve so watch this space!

Please feel free to browse the site and contact us.

Alasdair Bruce (Chair)

Report of East Devon Beekeepers AGM 2020 & ‘What I did During Lockdown’

Held via Zoom, 5th November 2020. 36 attendees.

Our President Hilary Kirkcaldie, opened the meeting with a warm welcome to everyone. As part of the address, she reminded us of past members who had sadly passed away this year. Hilary spoke of members who we may not have all known, but who were keen and committed beekeepers in their time. Hilary led us in quiet reflection in tribute to Evelyn Pelham, David Lench and Verbena Evans.

Our AGM is a chance for members to hear what has been going on in the group over the last year and for them to vote-in Officers and Committee members. The meeting was conducted efficiently as much of the information had been issued beforehand. The new Committee are:

President Hilary Kirkcaldie
Chair Alasdair Bruce
Treasurer Keith Bone
Secretary Val Bone
Committee John Badley, Mary Boulton, Sarah Collins, Ralph Cox, Nicky Langley, Rosemary Maggs, Colin Osborne, Ann Pengelly, Richard Simpson, Peter Weller
Branch delegate to DBKA Executive Committee Peter Weller

Val Bone will also be Membership Secretary, Richard Simpson will be Education Officer and Keith Bone will be Apiary Liaison Officer.

Honiton Show Committee members will be Keith Bone, Ralph Cox, Angela Findlay, Sue Johnston, Mike Walters and Sarah Collins.

There followed two short talks by Jan Morse and Alasdair Bruce entitled ‘What I did during Lockdown’.

Jan started by telling us that for some years she had been leading two groups of walkers and along the way had been trying to educate them into the diversity of wild flowers in the vicinity of South Chard.

So when the first lockdown started she emailed her friends and said she would send them a photo each day of flowers they could look out for as they went on their walks own walks. From the beginning of lockdown to the end of Augest she sent a total of 188 different plants that she had seen in the hedgerows.

Jan then shared with us about twenty of the more interesting specimens with comments on their botanical properties. See the selection below.



‘Bramble’ in the snowdrops, on a walk up to Wayford Woods from Winsham, well worth doing in January.

Beautiful St John’s wort

Beautiful St John’s Wort, the smallest of the hypericums.


Butterbur, flowers before the leaves, which are large enough to wrap butter, before paper was used.

Butterfly orchid

Butterfly Orchid, at the Chard Junction Quarries nature reserve – always open.

Common mullein

Common Mullein, a very distinguished plant, easily identifiable.

Early purple orchid

Early Purple Orchid, very variable in colour and form.


Fleabane, repels fleas, as the name suggests.

Lady’s bedstraw

Lady’s Bedstraw – name probably derives from the custom of including it in straw mattresses, as when dried it smells of new mown hay. It is the same family as goose grass or sticky burrs. Was used as a vegetable substitute for rennet


Tansy was used to ‘kill phlegm and worms at Eastertide’.


Thorn Apple is very poisonous, if you see it in a farmer’s field, advise him to remove it.

Yellow corydalis

Yellow corydalis, grows on walls, and flowers over a long period.

Meanwhile Alasdair has been busy renovating a collection of hives that had been given to him by a farmer friend. They were obviously of an early design and had been kept in a barn for many years. There were even the remains of foundation in some of the frames!

Intrigued by the design, Alasdair started to search for their possible origins. The hives were well made which indicated commercial manufacture, and after a few enquiries he came across a reference in an old book from 1930 entitled ‘Bee-Keeping new and old described with pen and camera by W. Herrod-Hempsall. F.E.S.’

Burgess telescopic hive



Note the metal ends

So they are provisionally identified from an image in the book as Burgess telescopic hives from around 1930, this age based on when the tin spacers on the comb frames stopped being made as around 1930.

Thanks to all concerned for their contributions to the success of the meeting. Let us hope that next year the situation will have improved.


News & Events

Fungus creates fake fragrant flowers to fool bees

Fungi have been discovered making fake flowers that look and even smell like the real thing, fooling bees and other pollinating insects into visiting them.

Read the article HERE.

The February Enews from Bees for Development can be found below.

Share this link with your group.

Emergency Authorisation for limited use of neonicotinoid seed treatment.

Read the letters from BBKA concerning:

Petitions against Emergency Authorisation

Emergency Authorisation for the use of thiomethoxam.

Spiders Can Fly Hundreds of Miles Using Electricity

Scientists are finally starting to understand the centuries-old mystery of “ballooning.”

Read the secrets HERE

Making a beeline: wildflower paths across UK could save species

Conservation charity aims to help restore 150,000 hectares of bee-friendly corridors to save the insects from extinction.

Read the article HERE.

Bees force plants to flower early by cutting holes in their leaves
Hungry bumblebees can coax plants into flowering and making pollen up to a month earlier than usual by punching holes in their leaves.
Bees normally come out of hibernation in early spring to feast on the pollen of newly blooming flowers. However, they sometimes emerge too early and find that plants are still flowerless and devoid of pollen, which means the bees starve.
Read the article HERE.
Pesticide made from spider venom kills pests without harming bees
Funnel-web spiders have neurotoxins in their bite that can kill an adult human yet they might turn out to be our allies if the small hive beetle ever reaches the UK.
Scientists at the University of Durham and Fera Science think the spiders may provide the weapon we need to stop the beetles.
The spider venom contains a cocktail of ingredients and one of them – Hv1a – is toxic to most insects, including the small hive beetle, but does not seem to affect bees or humans.
Hv1a needs to be injected to be effective. Just swallowing the toxin is ineffective as it is degraded in their gut. To get round this the team have bound Hv1a to a molecule from the common snowdrop which effectively carries it through the gut barrier.
In the laboratory the team fed the “fusion protein” in a sugar solution to beetles and their larvae. Within a week, all the beetles and larvae were dead.
Next step was to put beetle eggs on bee comb with brood, and spray with the compound. The honeycomb and bees survived virtually untouched, but most of the new beetle larvae died.
The selfish case for saving bees: it’s how to save ourselves
These crucial pollinators keep our world alive. Yes, they are under threat – but all is not lost.  Click here to read the article.