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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


Latest update = Home page

Recent update = Events page (summer programme)

Recent update = Asian Hornet Meetings page

News & Events

Nosema Testing at Hunthay Apiary
Please note that on Thursday 12th April between 1000 & 1230 there will be an opportunity for you to test your bees for Nosema.
Members should bring samples (c.30 bees) from each hive.
Calling Notice for the rescheduled Devon Beekeepers’ Association Annual General Meeting
Download details: DBKA Calling Notice 2018
Please note that the Raffle Draw for the cedar wood hive donated by National Bee Supplies will take place on 7th April, so still time to buy tickets if you wish.
BBKA documents fyi
Spring Convention
Note: Now rescheduled for April 7th at Meldon Village Hall
Devon Beekeepers Day Raffle Prize!
Dear Member,
You will recall I gave details of the Devon Beekeepers Day in your February Buzz. We now have the raffle tickets available for the National hive kindly being donated by National Bee Supplies. Tickets can only be purchased by members and are priced at £2 each. See your emails for details of how to purchase raffle tickets.Proceeds from the raffle go to the Presidents Fund which in turn helps to support bee related projects throughout the county.The beekeepers day on March 3rd promises to be an interesting event (your February Beekeeping magazine has all the details) – so come along if you can. Regards, Val

Gove – UK will back total ban on bee harming pesticides Click link to see details

Asian Hornet in North Devon
The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in North Devon which was spotted by a beekeeper in their apiary on the 18th September 2017. The contingency response has been initiated and a press release has been issued by Defra.