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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


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2019 Honiton Show Report

News & Events

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.
What’s that Buzz? Plants hear when bees are coming
New research has shown that plants can ‘hear’ sounds around them and flowers respond to the buzz of approaching bees by producing sweeter nectar. The research biologists from Tel Aviv University played recordings of flying bee sounds to evening primrose flowers and found that after a few minutes the sugar concentration in the flower’s nectar had increased by 20% on average when compared with flowers left in silence or submitted to higher pitched sounds.
The authors of the report say that, for the first time, they have shown plants can rapidly respond to pollinator sounds in an ecologically relevant way.
Producing sweeter nectar in response to the sounds of bees can help entice the insects to visit the flowers and increase the chances of its pollen being distributed.
Thanks to Ann P. for spotting this article in the Times.
Scientists sew trackers to Asian Hornets to find and destroy nests before they kill honeybees
Britain’s beekeepers are turning to technology to prevent aggressive Asian hornets destroying their colonies. In a first successful trial, experts at the University of Exeter attached tracking devices to the backs of the voracious hornets and then followed them back to their nests.