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AGM 02/11/2023

EDBK Annual General Meeting

Held via Zoom on Thursday 2nd November 2023

The meeting was held via Zoom because of the chaos caused by storm Ciarán.


Successful candidates in the 2023 Basic examination were announced; Mary Hugill, Alex Dungar, Simon Norton, Paul Lowman and Harry Burrough. This was followed by the disclosure of the winner of the Craythorne Cup, Simon Norton, who achieved highest marks in the group. Simon was surprised and delighted at this achievement. In addition, it was noted that Harry Burrough, the youngest member of the group, also achieved his Junior Certificate in Beekeeping Husbandry. Well done to all of you. Certificates and the trophy will be presented at a future meeting.

The AGM was efficiently run as all the reports had been circulated beforehand.

Election of President, Officers and Committees for 2023/24

A big thank you to the 41 members who attended the AGM and voted in your new Committee.

PresidentHilary Kirkcaldie
ChairAlasdair Bruce
TreasurerKeith Bone
SecretaryVal Bone
Committee membersJohn Badley, Mary Boulton, Marion Coleman, Ralph Cox, Rhiannon Hodson, Rosemary Maggs, Richard Simpson, Stan Wroe
Delegate to the Devon ECNick Silver

Honorary membership for David Wiscombe

Our President, Hilary Kirkcaldie, put forward a proposal to nominate David Wiscombe for Honorary Membership of East Devon Branch.


David ‘accidentally’ became a beekeeper when the Headmaster at the school where he was teaching retired and handed over responsibility for the school hives. Not wishing to lose face with the pupils, he donned the hat and veil and got on with it!

David taught Rural Studies at Axminster school and was already serving on the Branch Committee when Hilary first heard his name. In 1986 Hilary also joined the Branch. By this time David was heavily involved with setting up and running the Branch Apiary at its first location at Summerleaze Farm, not far from our current apiary. In winter he ran carpentry sessions making mini-nucs and other equipment. In due course, David became Chairman, an office he held for several years, later becoming President.

Few members have contributed so much across such a wide spectrum – establishing an apiary site, erecting the apiary hut, making and demonstrating equipment, running apiary sessions, giving talks to the branch members and to beginners and participating at Committee level – over so many years without a break.
David Wiscombe

David Wiscombe assembling the observation hive.

David Wiscombe

David Wiscombe at the apiary. Note bare hands!

The proposal was carried unanimously.

The Branch Teaching Apiary

This has been an unusual year for the bees and has caused a lot of headaches in the Branch Apiary Team. Coming into the winter with 16 colonies we had 8 losses in the cold weather before Christmas and 1 further loss in Spring. All had good food stores but appeared to die from the cold rather than starvation.

A teaching apiary is slightly different to a hobby beekeeper’s apiary. The latter is a case of reacting to what the bees do whereas the teaching apiary has to plan ahead and manipulate the colonies to make them ready for opening on various dates in the summer programme. These come thick and fast with beginners opening hives immediately after Easter. We therefore imported 5 hives from members retiring from beekeeping, so were up to 12 colonies by Easter.

The weird weather seemed to precipitate much queen cell production and some swarming, which made hives for teaching very difficult to produce. However, by July, the bees settled down to bringing in stores and provisioning for winter.

No varroa was found at all in the autumn, probably due to so many brood breaks. Oxalic will be administered in mid-winter if needed.

East Devon Beekeepers attendance at Local Shows

The most important local Show we attend is the Honiton and District Agricultural Association Show held in August. In the past, we have also attended the two day Axe Vale Festival, but this year the costs had risen so much that it was no longer viable. Instead, East Devon were represented at Goren Farm Festival, Colyton Goose Fayre, Stockland Fayre and Dalwood Country Fayre. These smaller local shows seem to be popular with the public and allow East Devon Beekeepers to fulfil their remit of spreading the word about the importance of pollinators in the environment. They also act to recruit possible candidates for our annual Beginners Beekeeping Course.

Dalwood Country Fayre

Dalwood Country Fayre.

Stockland Fayre

Stockland Fayre Bee Marquee Team.

Stockland Fayre

Stockland Fayre Show Ground.

Let’s hope the weather is kinder for our next meeting on December 7th.