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Members – Branch Apiary

Branch Apiary
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.

Beginners 'hands on' training at the branch apiary
Beginners ‘hands on’ training at the branch apiary

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.

Honey bee queen with attendant workers. Queen marked with red dot on thorax to denote year (2013). Queen laying egg.

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.

  • Place a clean box of foundation on top of the old brood box, feed with syrup and leave for a week.
  • When at least one frame of new foundation has been drawn find the queen and place her in the new box.
  • 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.
  • 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
Bailey frame change