Image courtesy of Sarah Rapley
We are a friendly club with over 100 members with quite a few new members who have joined over recent years. Some though are long standing members and our President Peter Hutton and our Vice Chairman John Hendrie have been keeping bees for over 50 years so we have a wide range of experiences. So if you are thinking of taking up beekeeping there is a vast pool of knowledge to draw on.
However, remember if you ask two beekeepers you are likely to get at least three different opinions and the reason is bees are wild animals and if you have several hives they will all behave slightly differently depending on the temperament of the queen.
Our Branch was started in 1917, so in May 2017 we celebrated our centenary with a visit to Chartwell’s apiary, that two members assist with looking after. Winston Churchill set up some hives at Chartwell and during the last war he was instrumental in allowing beekeepers an extra sugar supply even though it was rationed.
We have a selection of photos of our visit on this PDF document:
We have regular meetings at our two apiary sites at Barrwood just south of Ightham Mote and Hilbert Road in Tunbridge Wells and have an excellent lecture programme during the winter months.
The ‘Picture Postcard’ hives shown at the top of the page are WBC hives, but are they the most popular? If you click on this PDF you will see how our our members critically rated the various type of hives:
In compiling the ‘Information’ page we have tried to provide basic information, which we would have liked to have had available at our finger tips when we started beekeeping. There is a huge amount of bee related information available on the internet and we have attempted to refine this down to what we consider the most useful.
Go to ‘INFORMATION’ and then click on ‘WEB WATCH’.
Also there are several ‘ARTICLES’ suitable for beginners, under ‘INFORMATION’.
However, it is only basic information and for more complete detail we suggest you read some of the more recent additions to our library, again under ‘INFORMATION’.
The library is looked after by Sarah Rapley so email her to organise borrowing a book.
Beekeeping Equipment: One of the benefits of membership is that all Thornes equipment can be bought, at a discount, through our Vice Chairman John Hendrie. Contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Extractor Hire: We bought a new extractor in 2014, which is available for hire at £10.00. to members.
If you wish to hire it, please contact Peter Hutton [email@example.com].
Looking for something to do? Here are some topical tips for the next 2 months?
- In early August reduce the size of the entrance so the diminishing colony can defend itself against wasps.
- Set up wasp traps a few metres from your hives (jam jars containing water and a spoonful of jam work well).
- Honey can be harvested in early August allowing the bees to keep what more they make for themselves.
- After the honey has been harvested, remove the queen excluder, and put a crown board below any supers that you are leaving on to be cleaned out.
- Treat the brood box for varroa. MAQS strips, Apiguard gel or ApiLife Var strips are curently recommended. (Make sure your hives are well ventilated when using MAQ strips. Read Wally Shaw’s article on varroa control.) Record the varroa drop in the following two weeks so that you know how badly your colonies are infested.
- Time to feed the colony for the winter, replacing the honey taken. Feed continuously with standard strength sugar syrup (1 kg added to one pint of water). The colony will need at least 15kg of syrup (more for the bigger hives) to take it through the cold months ahead.
- Feeding needs to be completed before the end of the month to give the colony time to drive off the excess water.
- Remove varroa gel or strips when treatment is completed.
- Fit a mouse guard to the hive entrance.
Website Editors: Sarah Rapley and John Farrow.