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Members – Branch Apiary

We hold fortnightly meetings at the Branch Apiary during spring and summer, April to September inclusive, where members are given the opportunity for hands-on instruction and have the opportunity to exchange views with experienced beekeepers.

Non-members are welcome to come and see what we do, but this is limited to one meeting to conform to our insurance. If you wish to attend please contact a committee member. Non-members may also come to one winter meeting without joining to get a taste of what we do.

Hive records

We encourage all beekeepers to keep some form of hive record sheet. The format of the sheet is very much a personal matter dependent on many factors. Download the Hive Record Sheet (PDF file) used at the Branch Apiary and use as your starting point.

You are legally obliged to keep records of any veterinary medicines used on your bees.
Download a Veterinary Medicines Record Sheet (PDF file) which gives all the details.


When a bee stings it injects venom through a fine barbed point. This is usually torn out of the abdomen when the bee flies away and is left behind in the wound. The sac will continue to pump venom, so the quicker it is removed the better. This should be done by scraping the sting out of the wound with a blade, hive tool or fingernail without compressing it.

Sample of bees for Nosema analysis

30 bees must be examined in order to complete the diagnosis. Condition of the bees is also important. Freshly killed bees are best. Avoid using plastic containers as this leads to more rapid sample degradation. A standard sized matchbox is ideal.

To collect your sample, wait until the bees are flying then block the entrance with a piece of plastic foam. Hold a plastic bag open in front of the entrance so that the returning bees go inside the bag. When you judge there are 30+ bees inside the bag, close it and put it in a freezer or freezer compartment of a fridge.

Living with Varroa

David Packham, our Seasonal Bee Inspector, has kindly allowed the notes from his ‘Living with Varroa’ presentation to be reproduced here for the benefit of all.

The PDF is a very comprehensive document containing all the information you need to know about Varroa and its treatment.

'Living with Varroa'

Comb changing

Why change the comb?

  • Reduces disease burden.
  • Reduces build up of chemicals from varroa treatment etc.
  • Repeated use of old comb reduces cell size > smaller bees.
  • Building new comb is how wild bees control disease.


  • Bees need to be 2 weeks old to ensure wax glands are well developed. Wax glands of older bees atrophy.
  • Clean boxes, floors, frames and foundation.
  • Syrup or sugar solution (1kg sugar / 600ml water) in large bucket feeder.
  • “Warmish” weather, March onwards.
  • Strong colonies with lots of bees.

Bailey Frame Change

The gentle way to change all the old comb in the brood box. Does not affect the laying of brood, colony build up or honey yield.

  1. Place a clean box of foundation on top of the old brood box, feed with syrup and leave for a week.
  2. When at least one frame of new foundation has been drawn find the queen and place her in the new box.
  3. Put a queen excluder between the two brood boxes with a new entrance above the queen excluder. You may also wish to leave a small exit hole for drones in the original entrance.
  4. After 3 weeks all brood in the old box will have emerged. Remove the old box and frames and recycle.Supers can be placed above the new brood box (with queen excluder).

Bailey frame change


News & Events

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.
World’s largest bumblebee under threat.
The Patagonian bumblebee, the worlds largest bumblebee, is under threat from the import of species native to Europe.The growth of the bumblebee trade for agricultural pollination since the 1980s has been identified as one of the top emerging environmental issues likely to affect global diversity.Follow this link to read the article.
Best plants for bees: 5 yr study results by RosyBee
Follow the link to see the results of 5 years of monitoring which bees visit a variety of ‘bee-friendly’ plants.